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Five steps to take before you graduate

Five steps to take before you graduate

Getting to the end of your degree and heading out into the workforce can be daunting. Need some help? Skip the meltdown and work your way through our five steps.

Step 1: Start researching

Visit job search sites to see what’s out there, including the types of positions, required credentials and typical salaries. And don’t forget to check out graduate portals (like this one on Seek and those on your institution’s website) and subscribe to job alerts if available. Graduate programs are another option, with opportunities everywhere from Telstra and Coles to Big Four firms such as Deloitte and PwC — with the latter also offering a Summer Vacation Program for students in their second last year of uni.

Step 2: Chat to a career adviser

Speaking to a career adviser is really helpful, particularly if you’re unsure where your degree can take you. Opportunities are crystal clear in some fields, but graduates of generalist degrees (arts, business or science) are faced with so many options that it can get overwhelming. Also look out for services such as résumé writing workshops and industry networking nights (read more on both of these below).

Step 3: Start networking!

Whether you’re in your first year of uni or gearing up to graduate, networking is really important. This includes:

  • keeping up relationships with lecturers, tutors and classmates
  • establishing an online presence, including setting up a LinkedIn profile and getting involved in discussions
  • attending networking events, either on campus or through external organisations
  • joining industry associations, such as Engineers Australia or the Public Relations Institute of Australia
  • looking for opportunities to extend your learning, such as an internship or Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

Step 4: Update your CV

Start by adding all the experience you’ve gained since starting uni, including internships, volunteering stints, academic awards and any other achievements. Your next step is to sharpen up your descriptions of previous roles — and don’t assume that a casual retail or hospitality job won’t cut it. Employers look for skills such as communication, teamwork and accountability, which you’ve probably picked up in these roles. Next up is updating your references, so get in touch with lecturers and old employers to let them know you’re seeking work.

You should also start gathering samples of your work (think essays and articles, campaigns or major projects that you’ve worked on) and considering how you can demonstrate to employers that you have the skills they are seeking (practical experience gained both in and outside of the classroom, for example).

Step 5: Brush up on your interview skills

Being prepared can put you miles ahead of other applicants. Arriving on time and dressing appropriately are no-brainers, but what about researching the company? Impress the interviewer by illustrating that you know how they operate and where your role would fit. Check out the company website and social media channels, and read up on your interviewers’ backgrounds. Also think about typical interview questions and practise with your parents, friends or housemates. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Can you describe a situation where you’ve effectively worked in a team? It’s also worth seeing if your institution offers interview preparation workshops.

Useful links:

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