It’s not always easy being a student at Warwick: you’re expected to deliver on all fronts – academic, social and career. The great and the good at all levels (including us!) are exercised by ‘graduate outcomes’ and this inevitably translates into pressure to apply for high status, graduate training schemes. That’s not to say this pressure is always externally driven – it isn’t. Warwick students are ambitious, competitive and career driven BUT, this doesn’t mean all of you will want – or necessarily find – a graduate-track job straight after graduation. Rod Renno, Warwick grad, former job search adviser and now online editor at TargetJobs, shares his insights about the current realities of graduate job seeking and why you shouldn’t panic…
Don’t worry (too much) about the stories
In the desperate search for a job post-graduation, I’ve detected a trend toward mass hysteria. Reports come out every day bemoaning the lack of graduate jobs and scaring readers with frighteningly high applicant to job ratios. There is an alternative view, and you don’t need to look too hard to find it. A quick online search generated the following ‘good news’ stories about the UK economy and graduate recruitment:
- Graduate jobs market ‘better than feared’
- 9 signs the UK job market is in recovery
- Network Rail doubles management graduate scheme intake
- Graduate employment holds up despite tough times
- Growing British business
- Upturn in graduate employment in 2011/12
It’s also worth noting that over half of the UK graduate recruiters operate a rolling recruitment process. All is not lost if you haven’t signed on the dotted line by the time you graduate.
Experience is never wasted
Getting an internship or work experience directly related to your future career goals can only help you, but don’t assume career failure is imminent if you take a more circuitous route. This is not uncommon.I found myself deviating from the ‘norm’ (well, the Warwick norm at least) and have arrived in an interesting place. You could too.
I wasn’t ready for the big, wide world at the end of university, and continued on to do a master’s. But I needed to fund it – cue a number of part time jobs. Every single one was valuable in developing me as a person, and an employee. As a conference assistant on the Warwick campus I dealt directly with conference organisers and delegates, from charity events to Labour Party conference. The first conference that I had to manage myself was spread across the whole campus; I had sixteen members of staff to co-ordinate over the week and only a radio and my legs to help me! I was taken completely out of my comfort zone – but that’s the point.
One of my most challenging roles was acting as part-time carer for a student with cerebral palsy. Not only was this a personal privilege but it has proved pretty powerful as a response to that favourite question: ‘Tell me about something that you have found challenging’. At least I wasn’t the 50th person to say ‘balancing my university studies and other commitments’.
Don’t discredit these roles simply because they’re not directly related to your career of choice, or seem like a ‘stop gap’. These roles may well provide stepping stones to the next stage of your career.
Take your time
My route into full-time work was atypical to say the least. At one point I went to Singapore – it didn’t work out, but I learned an awful lot about myself and what I wanted from my career.
It was May 2011 when I joined my current company, GTI Media. We’re the ones behind the TargetJobs publications. I’m 27 years old and it’s only now, some six years after my initial graduation, that I have a full-time job that suits me.
I’m an online editor for Employer Insights and occupy a fairly unique position between students and graduate recruiters. I find out more than there is on graduate recruitment websites, research the company and interview the recruiters. I then have to put that in a useable format for the reader (hopefully you). I get to utilise the research skills from my master’s and I also get to advise students – I was good at that before, and I still get a buzz from it now.
I’ve got what I want here – a decent wage, nothing spectacular but nothing to turn your nose up at (most people aren’t earning 100K by the time they’re 30!) and I’m still in the careers advice field, which is something I really enjoy. I actually like going to work and not everyone can say that.