So you’ve finally graduated, congratulations! Maybe you want to go straight into work, or you’re finishing a break and are now thinking about your next steps – either way this can be a scary time for any graduate, and this is maybe even more true for this year’s graduates. We’ve gathered some advice for graduates to try and help alleviate some of the concerns and prepare for your transition. See what three successful alumni from very difficult industries have to say about navigating a stressful – but rewarding – period.
Advice for graduating students from alumni
Tsz Yan Kong, MD and Founder of Ma Petite Jewelry, who studied at the University of Leeds and Katherine Roberts, an award-winning author, who studied at Bath University, have both shared their thoughts with us on post-graduation transitions:
What field/industry are you currently working in?
Joey: Jewellery manufacturing (Ma Petite J Bespoke Jewellery) and Medical equipment supplies (World Label Medical Supplies Co Ltd)
Katherine: Creative… I am now self-employed as a children’s author.
Is this directly related to your studies?
Katherine: No. I studied Mathematics and Computing at University but only worked with computers for the first five years after graduating. In that time, I experienced two very different types of job: the first working as part of a small team of mathematicians attached to an engineering factory in the Midlands; the other as technical support for an American software company with an office base in Bristol.
However, my computer experience helped recently with self-publishing digital versions of my books after they went out of print at their publishers, and mathematical skills help with keeping accounts and doing tax returns. I also regularly use my horse experience in my fiction, so nothing is ever wasted.
What are some important skills to have when looking for your first job?
Joey: Analytical thinking, Market trend/background/updates.
Katherine: Knowing where to look for suitable adverts
What general advice would you give to graduates this year, particularly regarding current context?
Joey: Make sure what you are getting into is what you are passionate for and believe in. Not purely money-oriented. Nothing starts easy, be patient.
Katherine: Quality of life is just as important as how much you earn, so don’t be tempted to snatch the highest salary you’re offered without question. Consider where you will be living and how much it might cost, whether you’ll need to relocate, also how much time (and money) you are going to spend commuting, the environment you’ll be working in every day, whether you think you’ll get on with your new work colleagues, and if you can do some work at home if need be.
What other advice can you give graduates that are looking for a job, related to job-hunting or otherwise?
Joey: Networking and learning extra skill sets while preparing for either setting up a business or applying for a job are key
Katherine: There’s bound to be some kind of learning curve in every job, so don’t be put off applying for a position you think you might enjoy just because you didn’t get all the qualifications stated in the advert… that’s the candidate they would like to employ in a perfect world, and (as we have discovered this past year) we are not living in a perfect world. Life’s short… go for it!
How do students feel about graduating this year?
We spoke with Cially, a Graphic Design student from the Norwich University of Arts, about how she feels about graduation right now. Here’s what she had to say.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation, I’m hoping to get more internships or start a full-time job as a junior Graphic Designer.
Have you made any compromises on where you are looking for work due to the pandemic?
I’ve considered working remotely for agencies that are a bit further away since a lot of people are working from home now. However, I chose not to in the end, since I feel like the office environment is really important, especially since I’m still starting out.
Do you feel that graduating this year is much different compared to other years?
Definitely! Since last year’s graduates had it worse than my year, I feel like there are two sets of graduates this year that are competing in the same job market. I also feel like the lack of face to face studio time may have an impact on some students once they have to go into their new offices, compared to the other years who have spent a lot more time mingling and networking, and even having a physical grad show which we missed out on this year (and last year.)
Is there any particular advice you’ve been given about post-graduate life that you would like to share?
Start connecting with people from agencies/career paths that you want to get into as early as you can – try to get to know them and see if they have any advice that you can learn from. Everyone kept telling us towards the end of my last year to set up a LinkedIn account, and that definitely helped me find and connect with other creatives.
Graduation can be tough, and this year will probably be no exception. But with some perseverance, creativity, and maybe with the help of some of the advice found in this article, we are sure you’ll be able to land the role that you’re looking for!