I often find myself going back to my years as a fresh-faced graduate, a couple of weeks after laying down roots in a new city, and ready to take the working world by storm. The only problem was that I hadn’t quite figured out what it was that I wanted to do, let alone how to find my first job.
If I only I knew then, what I know now.
Taking risks, asking questions, taking counsel from your courage, building relationships, and seeking input from others, may sound like simple hurdles to overcome. But it’s easier said than done when you’re just starting.
I think most of us could benefit from the following pieces of advice. Maybe some connect with you more today than others depending on your role, the stage of your career, and your goals. But I am confident that whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional you will find them as helpful as I did and still do.
Weigh the career growth opportunity carefully
When looking at career options for a first job in the industry you’re interested in, it’s important to ask yourself some questions. Is it a growing industry? Does the job I’m applying for have a clear career path? Will this career path take me to where I want to go? Is this job going to help me build a skill set in something I’m interested in? If the answer to those questions is yes then you will most probably be on the right route towards a fulfilling career.
Take the time to get as much work experience as possible
While summer holidays are great for relaxing, they’re also long enough to fit in some invaluable work experience. Take on an internship – the main reason for doing one or more internships is the hands-on experience. You may discover that your dream job doesn’t live up to your expectations and now you have time figure something else out. You may also develop other skills that might be of use in a future job hunt. It also shows your enthusiasm and commitment to potential employers. This is the time to start building your professional relationships – the sooner the better.
Build your network and relationships
As a young professional the thought of networking may seem daunting – however, it can open so many doors for you. Attend as many networking events as possible and talk to as many industry people as you can. You will meet like-minded people that can turn out to be invaluable resources along the way. It’s also worth approaching key speakers at the end of an event and following up with specific questions and feedback on e-mail. Be consistent -being flaky doesn’t help any kind of relationship and it also impacts your self-esteem and anxiety levels. When you say you’re going to do something or be somewhere, follow through. This also ensures you think twice before committing to something that doesn’t actually inspire you.
Stand out from the crowd
This is especially true for the creative industries -know how important it is to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs. Recruiters get hundreds of applications from candidates with similar qualifications and experience. It’s important to produce something a bit different to get noticed. Think – how can you demonstrate what you can do? Sending in a short film about yourself or engaging with potential employers on social media are good ways of standing out.
Written by Joana Goncalves