The title says it all. I thought I’d have a go at writing about the language student experience of getting a job once we graduate only equipped with a printed sheet of paper that represents our whole education in a fancy font and about 100 words. I hope this somewhat helps anyone who finds themselves in a similar position, or have this to think about in the next coming few years.
Due to going on a Year Abroad, I have quite a few friends who have graduated in the past year. Some have jobs because their degree sets them up for specific roles such as Nursing or Architecture whereas others have jobs to earn some cash, have something they can call their own or to use it as a stepping stone for whatever they decide next.
I feel like I have Mount Everest to climb. (Warning: I think I’m going to end up overusing the sheer height and enormity of this mountain in the next year.) On top of getting back in to the swing of life, we’re suddenly being asked “So what’s next for you?”, “What do you want to do as a job?” etc. My unrealistic answer is: “I want to win the lottery, move to China then travel the world as I please.”
My more down-to-earth answer: I’d love to move to China to either do a master course in International Business or Relations, or possibly do a graduate scheme out there to get me started. That seems simple right?
Sadly, it’s not. Even though at the end of the degree, I could just book a flight to China and start again with the hope of finding something, I am not that spontaneous. And anyone who is amazes me beyond belief. They always have been and continue to be my inspiration. So what to do?
In the realistic cold-hearted world, we’ve got to somehow juggle keeping our heads above water with university work, applications for jobs and making sure we actually talk to other human beings face to face rather than possibly via a quick whatsapp. And I feel like I only know how to doggy paddle right now. I just sent a whatsapp message to my mother saying exactly this: I know it’s silly but I feel like I’m on a dodgy rollercoaster clinging for dear life when in fact, if I’d just open my eyes, I’d realise I’m on a horse on a Merry-Go Round.
And I’ve just read this back and said out loud to myself: Seriously Georgie? This is completely the time where you just need to take you own flipping advice!
We never learn… do we?
A fellow course-mate is another example of the pressure all final year students go through having recently posted a facebook status: “Just applied for my first ‘proper job’. If only that could be it and my future was now sorted..”
Anyway, I’ve been searching on Google for various tips and helpful advice on what the heck to do when applying for the Graduate schemes. I found that sites like that Guardian, Milkround, TARGETJobs, etc.
Milkround is the one of the best sites around that provides a hassle free way to apply for graduate programs (or internships) if you know the job roles you want to apply for. The website includes information about the companies – including the Times Top 100 – which gives us an idea of the requirements of the job and help us choose the industries we want to go into. But if you’re a language student… without knowing what you want to do… how will this inspire us?
Yesterday we had a ‘Shape Your Future’ talk at the University of Nottingham and on the whole, I was inspired. So Tip #1 for working out what you could possibly do.. Go to as many career events held by your university (and outside it too) as possible, even those that only are slightly relevant, one speaker may say just one sentence that grips you. It is worthwhile booking an appointment with the Careers service even though you are going to sit across from the person and hope they are about tell you exactly how to make your millions for the rest of your life… you never know how they could help!
Tip #2 is, if you are, stop panicking about it. The majority of speakers (who are language graduates) agreed that they had no idea what they wanted to do but emphasised that as long as you give something a go, it’ll bring you to what you actually want. Brogan Driscoll (twitter), who now works at the Huffington Post UK, was a fantastic speaker who hit home that we are not alone in this struggle and we are going to succeed no matter our lack of business or mathematics experience and skills.
It may sound weird but there is now a major truth about the modern job world that we are going into: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Tip #3: ask around to friends, family, family friends.. your second-cousins uncle on the other side..! The world is so global these days that there are more opportunities around us than we realise!
I didn’t realise that we should “big-up” our experiences abroad in our job applications. To us, it is normal that we’ve just spent a year away in foreign countries because it’s our rite of passage. But to everyone else, we have been more brave, pro-active and responsible compared to the majority of other graduates worldwide. All of my course mates admit that we didn’t realise the difficulties and challenges we’ve faced and conquered through adapting to new cultures, languages and completely different societies. So my Tip #4 is show off what you’ve achieved like a peacock flashes his dazzling feathers. The skills we’ve gained are valued in all job sectors. Can many people you know say that they’ve dealt with dropping their flat keys down an elevator shaft and had to deal with the situation in a completely different language having only moved in a week before? If you’ve said yes, we have the same friend! But pretty much all of you wouldn’t have… So basically, you should know that you are fantastic.
My last tip is rather basic but I always forget the resources on the internet, tip #5 is a newly launched website globalgraduates.com. It has been made by the same person who created ThirdYearAbroad.com and it is an eye-opener to what is out there. Just spend a hour happily googling random possibilities and see what appears!
So there we go. If you’re someone in the same position, let me know if you have any advice you’d like to share. But for now, the world is literally our oyster.
Continue being brave guys!