It’s somewhat hard to believe, but I am finally reaching the end of my university studies. For the first few years, I didn’t even think about the fact that once I finish my degree, I would have to actually find a job. That’s the whole point of university, right? So I spent three years going to classes, hanging out with friends, working a casual job and enjoying the university lifestyle. Then reality hit. A full-time job wasn’t going to fall from the sky on graduation day. I realised I’d have to go out and actively do whatever I could to make sure I landed a job in my field of study. In retrospect, I wish I knew exactly what I needed to do to make 4 years of study and thousands of dollars of student debt worth it. As semester 2 comes to an end and graduation creeps up, the pressure of finding a job rises and you often find yourself deflecting the dreaded “have you got a job lined up?” from everyone you know.
In 2014, there were over 1.3 million people enrolled in University or Higher Education courses across Australia. The number has undoubtedly risen since then. With all this fierce competition, the job hunt is becoming even more difficult. Just last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics release the latest Labour Force statistics which showed that the number of part-time workers was on the rise, while full-time employment was declining. This isn’t a great sign for graduates. Having said this, unemployment in Australia is steadily dropping. So there is still some hope for new graduates! If you’re making your way through university not knowing how to go about finding a job at the end of your studies, here are 4 tips that just might help:
- Create a professional online presence
As much as social media used for personal expression, it can also be useful for creating an easily accessible resume or portfolio. Of course, I’m talking about Linkedin. While you may already have a profile, it’s important to keep it up-to-date, a potential employer could be on the lookout for people like you. Research found that 40% of employers visit the Linkedin profiles of their candidates. Linkedin can also give you job alerts and connect you with professionals in your field. But you can go so much further online than just Linkedin. Blogging is also a great way to build an online portfolio of work. The possibilities are endless, so get creative!
- Use university resources
You may not know it, but most universities have excellent programs, resources and connections that can help you start your career. You’ve just got to know where to look. For QUT students, CareerHub is an excellent online resource where you can find:
– The Real World Placement Program: a QUT only directory where you can find and apply for paid work, unpaid work experience, internships and volunteer work, in order to begin your career in your chosen field.
– The Career Mentor Scheme: students are matched with an industry professional who mentors them for a year. This allows you to gain advice, information and knowledge directly from your chosen industry. It also sets you up with connections in your field.
– Resume workshops: if you’ve sent a job application to a potential employer online, their first impression of you is based on your resume. This means it’s so important to have a resume that is appropriate for your industry. While you can find plenty of resume writing tips on employment websites, they’re often very generalised. Attending a resume-writing workshop can help you tailor your resume to ensure you make a great first impression.
– Career fairs: like most universities, QUT holds several careers fairs each year. Here, you can meet and gain information from potential employers. Even if you don’t find your dream employer at the fair, it’s a great way to practice interacting in a professional setting.
Make the most of these services; after all, you are paying for them. If you’re not a QUT student, have a quick search on your university’s website and you should find similar resources.
- Do an Internship
We’ve all got to start somewhere. Most of the time, that means working for free until you have some ‘real world’ experience that it useful to employers. Unfortunately, not many employers are willing to give that experience. The trick is to start as soon as possible, so by the time you finish uni, you have enough industry experience and connections to land yourself a job. One study suggests that doing an internship before graduating uni can lead to better employment opportunities, increase self-concept of work values and can also minimise the reality shock when you make it into the workforce. Don’t just limit yourself to one internship; do as many as you can in a variety of different job positions. This will give you a better understanding of your industry and will broaden your skills.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. We’ve all heard it before, but I’m not convinced this statement is 100% true. You still need to know some things. However, having industry contacts can be highly beneficial and can potentially lead to job opportunities. Developing networking skills as early as possible can also help you be a better leader down the track. At first, networking events can be a little daunting, especially if you don’t know many people there. But that’s the whole point of these events, to meet new people in your industry!
There isn’t an exact recipe to landing a job in your chosen industry. Everyone has a different experience and process. But, there are definitely steps you can take prior to finishing your degree to maximise your chances of employment. Having said that, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t find a job straight away. But if you want something badly enough, go out into the world and work hard for it. Perseverance is key. Your success is not determined by how smart you are or what marks you get. Make the most of every opportunity you’re given whilst at university and use the resources available to you in order to maximise your chances of landing your dream job. If you need some motivation to get you started, check out the video below.
Also published on Medium.