By Sophie Fry
‘The world is your oyster’ is a familiar phrase for recent or future graduates. True enough, for those like myself undertaking a degree without a clear career trajectory in front of them, the possibilities can appear endless. Narrowing down your ambitions, matching them with your experience and skills and aligning them to the world of work can be a daunting task. As a final year student at the University of Durham, I would like to provide an insight into the reality of the career search for someone from my generation preparing to leave their status as a student behind.
One of my biggest concerns about entering the job market, like many, is how highly competitive and saturated it is today. The high volume of graduates means that having a degree does not secure you a career, or even that first job interview. However, I have come to realise from my internship at Elliott Scott HR that career paths are rarely linear. Ultimately, I believe that focussing on enriching your experiences and skills, and seeing set-backs as learning curves, will pay off in the long run.
My passion for languages led me to study Japanese for my undergraduate degree. Yet I am considering a post-graduate law conversion as the challenging, fast-paced and global nature of a large law firm appeals to me. Finding a career that is rewarding is important to me as well, and working in law can provide the opportunity to protect people’s rights and do pro bono work. However, during my time interning at Elliott Scott HR, recruitment and the HR function are aspects of business which I have become drawn to as well, as I find the versatility of the job and the employment law aspects appealing.
Although just starting out myself, my advice to other students or graduates commencing their career is to start early, especially if looking to secure a place on graduate schemes. Utilise the wealth of resources and opportunities available to you at university, and aim to enrich yourself by getting involved in societies that interest you.
Apply to winter, spring or summer internships, look for work experience through friends and family, or simply get a part time job in order to show your commitment to the world of work and to gain transferable skills. Work experience is invaluable in order to understand what you want from your career, not only which sector you wish to enter, but also the environment and culture which suits you.
Research is also a fundamental aspect of the graduate job search. There is plenty of information and advice on offer online, which will make the application process and interviewing easier. A particular site that I have found incredibly helpful is Bright Network, with advice and events aimed at helping students network and figure out which career path they wish to pursue.
As a generation naturalised to technology, Millennials have a different outlook on their career. Flexibility, workplace culture, and purpose are some of the important aspects when pursuing a career for many millennials and this can sometimes be misunderstood. I think it is our job to be aware of negative perceptions and work to prove them wrong.