When people ask me about how I got my dream job, and how it happened within 24 hours of graduating from university, I often don’t have an answer for them beyond, “I just got lucky, I suppose.” I realise this isn’t a helpful answer for anyone who actually looked to me for advice. It took time to realise that it was actually my own persistence that helped shape the life I have now.
So here are some of my tips.
1. Thinking (really) critically
I was often quite disillusioned with what lecturers would be talking about or making me work on during my degree (like, I think maybe the world has moved on from the phenomenon of Snapchat in the past 5 years?), but I challenged myself to think critically about what I was being taught and how these theories could apply to present-day topics and technologies. Engaging critically is a skill that you will actually carry with you throughout your life (unlike Pythagoras’ Theorem), particularly in the workplace. Obviously, making sure you finish your work on time and having a good work ethic is also critical. You often don’t get extensions or word limits in the real world. So get the most out of your university experience beyond the nitty gritty!
2. Extra-curricular experience
I’ll put it this way: employers will spend more time looking at your practical experience than they will at the ‘Education’ section of your resume. If you’re lucky enough to know what career path you’d like to take (or have a few ideas), it’s never too early to start finding ways to learn more and practice your craft. For me, this involved finding internships and part-time work related to social media management. I got stuck into the Media Department and MaCSS’ inner workings to find opportunities for myself to learn more, such as taking on ownership of Farrago’s social media platforms and helping out with all things social for MaCSS. Most importantly, remember that not every bit of experience will be a good experience. For me, some of my experiences made me hate what I wanted to pursue as a career and it forced me to start looking for other paths within the media industry.
3. Think about careers and interviews early
I started applying for jobs obsessively online during my final semester of University (and by during, I mean literally during my lectures, oops). For the few interviews I even got close to, there were at least 20 applications that were rejected, and another 20 applications that didn’t even get a reply. Just know that this is a part of the process, and the earlier you get started, the sooner you could find your golden ticket. The same goes for interviews - use each one as a learning experience to see how nervous you get and what sort of questions are asked, and you’ll get increasingly comfortable with the idea of selling yourself to strangers.
4. Wing it
Like I said, I still don’t have a full explanation for how I landed the job I have so soon after graduating. There’s always a certain amount of improvisation and pretending you’re good at something when you have no idea what you’re doing. However, by embracing the fact that you’re not perfect and you will have to wing it, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable in your surroundings a lot sooner, and it will make you a more productive and confident human being.
When I look back on my time at uni, I think of how I managed to balance my academics and other opportunities, and I also think of how hard I worked. You’ll never stop working hard in your life, so when you’re bogged down in assignments, take a minute to stop fretting about the finer details, and remember that your persistence during university will pay off, and you’ll never regret it.