Leaving Uni – The Job Search
We had a chat with Nottingham graduate Adam when he had recently left uni. He tells us how he approached his job search, including his tips for social networking.
How did you feel when you first left uni?
I think people fall into one of two camps when they leave uni: one is very much in denial – a lot of my friends are like that. At university, your life revolves around sport, going out, seeing friends. So it’s hard to let go of that student mentality. The other type is keen to move on from uni, and put everything into developing a career. I think I’m a bit of a mixture – I really enjoy reunions, but equally I relish that I’ve moved away and have started my career. It makes you value going back to visit your uni! Finding a job, and losing your friendship circle – those are the 2 toughest challenges.
How did you start your career?
It was quite a fast paced change for me. I started working in social media12 days after my exams finished in early June! I had worked for the company remotely during my final year, but I hadn’t got a full-time contract yet, so it was quite stressful initially. I felt a bit in limbo. I had turned down two job offers, and I wasn’t sure whether the one on the table would turn into a permanent role, so I was questioning whether I was right to take the risk. But I felt it was worth doing, especially as it was early summer and my part-time work was set to continue at reasonable pay rate, which allowed me to cover my rent and outgoings and still have a small cushion to lead a life – albeit a bit of a budget one!
So I set myself a deadline; if the full-time job hadn’t come through by September, I would start looking elsewhere. Luckily the gamble paid off for me, but some friends definitely jumped into things because it was the easy option.
How do you decide on career direction?
I do feel you’re at an age where you can afford to take a risk. I think it’s important to make decisions based on what you want to do, rather than worrying that you just need a job, which is how many of us feel when we leave uni. And make choices that reflect what you believe in, not what other people want to see – that’s definitely a key driver.
Even if you’re not lucky enough to have a parental safety net, I think it’s best to stick it out until you find something that really motivates you. Maybe take on temporary or part-time work to earn some cash and bridge the gap until you get a permanent position.
How do you start?
Preparation is key – as the saying goes ‘failure to prepare is preparing to fail’. Try to have a vision about what you’d like to do, before you waste time doing applications – that’s fundamental. I was very fortunate and went straight into a job, but where friends came unstuck was they left it too late, or perhaps looked at stuff and thought it was what they wanted, but hadn’t researched enough.
Don’t just rely on the typical method of Google. Anyone can Google a company, but go beyond that: look at Facebook, Twitter, business news, anything you can find to build an overall picture of the company before you apply – that will stand you in good stead. Try to have personal conversations to find out what the employees and company culture are actually like; not only will that knowledge help you stand out, but it’s important to know that you will fit in – the culture is what makes my job amazing, why I love coming to work. So look up relevant people on LinkedIn. I researched people who were actually working at the companies I wanted to apply to, and sent them a LinkedIn request.
How would you approach people?
Ask what it’s like working at the company and tell them you want to apply for a job there. Ask if you could have a chat with them about their role and the organisation. They will either think you’re switched on enough that you might get the job, or that you could at least have a helpful conversation with them about the company. They might even tell you you’re not best suited to the role – which is fine. That just saves you time and you don’t lose anything.
What is your top tip?
Don’t limit your dreams. If you think ‘I can’t do that’, then you won’t do it. But if you think ‘that’s what I want… how do I get there?’ that’s when you have a chance to excel.
I had a tough time at school, but graduating was a real turning point. I put the work in, but also learned a lot – not just education, but about myself and the outside world. In my final year I raised my grades, did part time work, was captain of the hockey team and had a brilliant social life! I never thought I could achieve all that, because I had coasted before. Now at work, I am challenged every day; we’re trying to grow the business and we push each other, develop together.
So, I would say don’t let negative thoughts restrict you. Remove those self-imposed limits and it’s amazing what you can achieve. Take a step back, look at the bigger picture and think I can do this. I will do this.
Thank you Adam ☺
Better to fail and learn from it, than never test yourself.
Don’t be scared of potential failure, or of leaving the uni bubble.
Go out there, take that risk and be everything you can.
Adam Bewley is now a Senior Global Account Manager at Spark 44, a creative agency in London. His role focuses on global premium luxury automotive clients.
Adam has experience in delivering a variety of projects – including a Facebook Messenger Chat Bot, an online youth engagement platform, new brand identity development and influencer marketing campaigns.
Check out his LinkedIn here.