first job

Land your First Job – Tips & Tricks for Graduate Work Experience

Let’s chat about how to land your first graduate job… Picture this: You’ve just graduated and hold proudly in your hands your hard-earned degree or diploma that took you years of dedicated focus, periods of extreme exam stress, late nights of study and all-round hard work to achieve.

Now the job search begins and to your dismay, every job listing you encounter in your field requires experience with little to no opportunities for recent graduates. A catch-22 scenario ensues; how is it possible to get a job with no experience when a job is what you need to get experience in the first place. The challenges of a graduate looking for a job.

The good news is that there are ways around this and if you’re prepared to sacrifice a portion of your free time, you’ll emerge more ready than ever to take on your first job with gusto and that much needed experience. Here are 6 ways to consider getting work experience as a student or graduate:

1. A Part-time Job

A part-time job will not only demonstrate to potential employers your sound work ethic and willingness to do what you must to prove yourself. The extra money you’ll earn will cover your study expenses and, in some cases, provide you with some pocket money too. Some jobs may offer flexibility, allowing you to make your own schedule that fits in with your studies.

Consider part-time work in your field of study to best prepare yourself, but don’t discount the less obvious alternatives that can provide important learning experiences and the development of a wide array of skills. Whether it’s waiting tables, working in a call-centre or working on campus, to being an assistant in a big firm; all these positions will at the very least, impart valuable character traits such as self-discipline and responsibility that will serve you well once you graduate.

2. Vacation Work

There are opportunities that exist for students looking to work full-time during the holidays and the best part is there is no risk of work interfering with your studies. This will allow you to entirely focus on the job at hand without the distraction of those pesky assignments and looming exams. Should you decide to go this path, you will emerge from your degree with at least 3 months’ worth of experience, which will give you a competitive edge. There are sites that are dedicated to assisting students in find vacation work, such as

3. Internships

Many companies offer internships which offer you the perfect way to launch a successful career that is connected to your study interests. In some cases, internships are paid and offer the opportunity of getting hired upon completion. Even if you are not hired after your internship, it will still provide a good reference for future job opportunities, and the connections you make could help you immensely. As they say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

Here are some helpful links to find internships:

4. Volunteering

Although volunteering is normally unpaid, the experience you’ll gain and industry connections you’ll make will be priceless. The people you meet can become credible contact people for future job recommendations, and the skills you’ll acquire such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning and task management will hold you in good stead in your professional career.

5. Work shadowing

Spending time and observing a professional will give you a greater understanding and insight into the type of work involved in your field and is an excellent way to prepare you for your career. Although work shadowing rarely pays, the opportunity for you to gain the experience and know-how of how to do a particular job will shine through during the interview process, putting you in a favourable light and increase your chances of landing a position through your demonstrated knowledge.

6. Freelancing

Freelancing is a flexible way to earn an income and gain experience while you study. In some cases, the work can be done remotely therefore it is not only convenient, but you have the added advantage of taking on jobs that are based abroad. There are numerous freelance websites at your disposal such as :

Although the prospect of giving up your free time to gain work experience during your studies can seem daunting, see it as an investment for your future. This doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your well-being, developing a good work-life balance is essential. But gaining that competitive edge will pay off handsomely and you’ll be in a far better place than your peers who choose not to make that effort.

The fact that you’ll be making connections along the way cannot be overstated as building good relationships is essential to one’s career. Keep in mind, once you emerge from your studies, your CV will be in a far better place and will increase your chances dramatically of landing those much sought after interviews. Good luck to our fellow graduates in landing your first job.

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