Our team recently attended a presentation comprised of a panel of four recent graduates, who shared with us some reflections on what it’s like out there in the real world, post-uni.
Not only were their stories honest, frank and humbling, they were also extremely valuable. So, if you’re about to begin forging your own career path, allow me to share some of their collective insights.
- ‘You’re the captain of your career ship’. This was a direct quote from one of the panellists, and pretty accurately sums up how you’ll need to develop effective career management skills. This includes developing your personal brand and understanding the power of networking. As one graduate pointed out ‘Your network is 60% of what’s going to make you successful’.
- Communication is key. Along with building your brand and nurturing your network, communication was also mentioned several times. Key to enabling you to having your voice heard and articulating your ideas, this also includes practicing your elevator pitch. How are you going to effectively communicate who you are and what you’ve got to offer?
- Practice video interviews. All four panellists had to undertake at least one video interview before they secured their graduate role, and communicating effectively online is very different than in person. It’s important to consider how you’re going to present your best self in a virtual environment where the opportunity to positively express yourself through your body language, gestures and posture will be more challenging.
- Continue to develop your self-awareness. While you might roll your eyes every time you’re asked to complete a self-reflection task as part of an assessment, this is part of developing your capacity for self-learning and self-discovery. Both of these skills are vital if you find yourself working remotely, where instead of being in the office you’re working from home, which all four panellists have experienced in varying extremes as a result of COVID-19.
- Look after your mental health. This point was expressed several times in different ways. One panellist described the importance of building resilience and drawing on your support resources when things become especially challenging. Another panellist expressed the need to establish clear boundaries between your work life and personal life, especially if you work where you live. In this digital age, where we can all be contacted 24/7, setting clear boundaries on your availability was also stressed as vital in order to maintain well-being. The need for down-time was also emphasised, so however that looks for you, be sure to schedule it into your week!
- Start thinking more internationally. Developing a global perspective means developing the capacity to take into account multiple social and cultural perspectives. On a broader level, individuals with international exposure can better build relationships, solve problems, and think creatively. With international exchanges on hold for the moment, we have had to become creative with how we do this. There are many great virtual graduate experiences out there, so take up every opportunity to expand your horizons!
On behalf of four young graduates, who provided so many valuable insights in order to give you the tools to be the captain of your career ship, you’re welcome.