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I came to Brisbane, Australia from Nepal to pursue my master’s degree from CQUniversity. After the completion, I started looking for jobs as most students usually do. That is what we are normally preparing for in most cases unless you were studying to support your already existing business or start your own entrepreneurship. I am writing this as a reflective journal for the first time to express my opinions and findings to help new graduates or who are about to become a graduate find a path to move forward in their desired career.
The first fear I faced once I completed my studies was to match myself to the job descriptions and specifications, I found in various sources like seek, indeed, or the company’s websites. You look at the job description, you compare yourself with it, you tick through the requirements that you fulfil and then the dreadful part, Experience. Usually most jobs require some years of experience as a selection criterion. That is where I usually stop myself from moving forward and look for the next job post. If you have gone through this, then I believe you will agree with me that it will continue as a cycle. You are just a graduate with good academic background with some or almost no experience in the area.
It’s been a year since my graduation and one of my biggest regret is not knowing about graduate programs before my graduation. This is probably my weakness as we can’t always wait for someone to spoon feed us. I should have done proper research. Honestly, I had heard about graduate programs but never really cared about them. Like they say, better late than never. Eventually, I realized the importance of graduate programs for a student and started preparing myself for that. I will try to list out some activities I think will help students to increase their chance of getting a job after they graduate:
Deciding the career path: You probably chose your field of study that matches the career you want to progress on. The hard part is done. You know your destination, now it’s time to pave the path towards it.
Keep yourself up to date: Everything is changing around you. New technologies, new concepts, new innovations are taking the market before you realize it. It is important to complete the academic courses to get some good grades, but I believe it is more important to understand the changes happening as well.
Search and analyse the job descriptions for your dream job: I believe it is important to start looking at the job description related to the fields you want to work in the future. You are not looking at the job descriptions to apply for the job. You are looking at it to understand what is expected of you. Look at the skills and requirements. Match yourself. If it is in your course structure, you have an advantage of discussing with your lecturer about the areas you should focus.
Online tutorials and videos: This have become one of the most powerful platforms to learn anything for FREE. You don’t have to pay huge sums to learn those complicated theories or concepts. Do your research. There are multiple sites including but not limited to Youtube, Udemy, Coursera where you can not only listen and learn from videos but you will also have the power to interact with other people through comments or Q&A sections to get your answers.
Resume building and Career Counselling: Both aspects are very important during a student’s journey. Most universities provide these services to their students and they follow the quote by Dumbledore, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” So, all you need to do is find your Dumbledore and ask for help. I reached out to my professor few months after my graduation and he was surprised that I didn’t went to him sooner. Nevertheless, I could see the transformation in my resume before and after I passed it through him.
Start applying for graduate programs: Understand what graduate programs are. There are different companies that provides this opportunity to the deserving students to take another step in their desired career. You can find out the different companies that provides graduate programs earlier (Internet is your friend). Normally, some big organizations offer graduate programs every year. Find where you want to go, prepare yourself and start applying from the last semester of your university. Yes, you don’t have to wait for your results to apply for this position. You can start as soon as you complete your courses if it matches with the time you are graduating.
Look for internship programs: Unlike graduate programs, internship programs are different. These are usually unpaid jobs but a good way to get the experience you desire to start your journey.
Lookout for events and workshops: There are lots of workshops and events going around you. Either it be related to your academics in your university or your place. Google for events that you might be interested. A good place to learn from leaders in their profession as well as to grow a network. Recently, I stumbled upon one such platform, Meetup and I am happy to have found it. Look into the world through other’s perspectives. Learn from them.
These are some important things that I think every student looking for a successful career should know. I made the above list completely from my experience and tried to make it as general as possible as I am from an IT background. It is more like the things I felt I should have done. Being a student, it is indeed a hard life as most students must deal with different assignments, deadlines, lectures while managing their part-time jobs to support themselves financially. But don’t try to make an excuse of being too busy or too tired to prepare for your future. Remember, hard work pays. Grades are important, focus on them during your academic journey, however, try to gain skills in what you want to be. Me myself am still looking for a job that I would enjoy doing. I go through lots of job advertisement every day, try to fit my profile according to the descriptions and apply if it matches. We can never be choosy for the first job, but I still ensure that the job will return you some good benefits as well. Personally, I think, taking stress to find the right job is better than taking stress to finish the job you are doing.
To complete this journal, I will use a very old joke (more than a decade) that I heard from a school friend of mine:
A guy went to an English grammar competition and came back. His friends asked him how did it go?
His answer: They asked me the past tense of think? I thought, thought and thought then finally passed the question to the next person.
My catch from this joke is understand what you know and get prepared to learn what you don’t.