Ten years into the workforce, I look upon that final year of university as one of the most exciting times in ones life. The world literally is your oyster (unless you have failed your final year exams. In which case it wasn’t your fault, life is basically playing a sick joke on you).
With perspective, the success recipe looks quite simple for graduates. Add some intelligence, one or two rock solid qualifications and a splattering of enthusiasm, and opportunity will rise. From a graduates perspective however the recipes available are innumerable, decisions taken equating to a series of scenes from the movie ‘Sliding Doors’.
From birth we are cocooned by our parents choices, chauffeured from one place to another, and never really held accountable for the little naughty things we did or said thanks to the international hall pass known as the ‘naivety of youth’. But once you leave school, and university, and are suddenly thrust into the ‘real world’ I believe its easy to get lost and wonder if you really are making the right decisions. As you navigate through the seemingly unchartered seas of life, you may even feel like you should answer job ads like this:
If I could go back and tell my younger self anything, I’m sure I would have ended up in the same place, or maybe better. Either way I would have saved myself a whole lot of angst and hangovers after stress relieving nights out with friends by hearing this from my older self:
1. Believe in yourself: If you haven’t learnt this one from your parents, then you need to learn to believe it now, because if you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will.
2. Get involved: Get involved in clubs, groups and events that interest you. If you don’t know where to start then join book club, bridge club, even ping pong – whatever it is, get involved and start meeting people outside of your high school. Ultimately who knows you is just as important as who you know. Meetup.com has some excellent groups to help you get started: http://www.meetup.com
3. Volunteer: This goes hand in hand with ‘getting involved’ but will also add another dimension to you as a person. Not only do employers see someone with philanthropic volunteering experience as a desirable, it will also help you realize that opportunities and life extend well beyond your 4 digit post code.
4. Take initiative: Being that person with initiative means you are that ‘value adder’ in the team. At home, at work or even when looking for a new job, initiative means you will stand out. So if you haven’t secured your ultimate grad role then get your foot in the door by reaching out to a ‘target employer’ and volunteer your time and skills.
5. Do what you love: Its cliché but its true. Countless number of friends have changed careers late in life because they ignored that little voice inside them that told them to do medicine because it ‘takes too long’. Trust me, it takes twice as long if its your second career.
6. Acknowledge your abilities: Own what you do know, and acknowledge what you don’t. Enthusiasm and attitude counts for so much more at work than what I realized when I started my career.
7. And lastly, enjoy the ride – its time to get serious about life, but don’t get so serious you forget to enjoy the experience!