This is the second in our series of blog posts written by recent graduates from the University of Salford summarising their experiences in the labour market upon graduating. In this post, recent Music graduate Alexa Lee shares her story. We hope you enjoy it:
It is that time of the year which every undergraduate has looked forward to since embarking on their university education: graduation. I love graduation ceremonies. Everyone is happy and enthusiastic, shopping for that perfect graduation outfit and making celebratory plans with friends and family. It is an amazing and fitting conclusion to the three to four years of sleepless nights cramming for exams and writing that last 5000 words for a dissertation. And to those who are about to attend your graduation – enjoy it, relish in it. Because what happens next isn’t great and it can be downright soul-crushing.
If you’re one of the minority that have nailed your career planning right from the start and got a job, well done. If not, you’re in for a long emotional ride and I wish you the very best. I don’t mean to make it sound all doom and gloom post-graduation but you should brace yourself. The emotional impact of not immediately finding a job is probably the hardest thing to get over and I’m speaking from personal experience. But trust me when I tell you that, you are not alone. Several other graduates I’ve met have experienced lengthy periods of unemployment and rejection after university. Personally, I spent half a year unemployed and during this time, my confidence was badly shaken.
I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Music but wanted the stability and security that a graduate role can offer. I sought out looking for graduate jobs but was intimidated by the numerous job profiles and challenging application processes. Moreover, I already spent three months applying and failing to get an entry level job, why would a graduate employer even consider me? I let self-doubt and self-pity overwhelm me for quite some time until I decided to get myself a career advice appointment with the university. That was the best decision I’ve made since graduating.
I spoke to a Careers Advisor, Paul, all about my career hopes and doubts and he was very reassuring. He got me to do the Prospects career planner quiz which matches up a set of ideal careers to my interests and personality traits. He also shared valuable insight and tips about writing CVs and cover letters. I took all his advice into consideration and made changes accordingly, that’s when I started receiving invitations to job interviews.
I was a complete nervous wreck at my first few interviews, so as expected, I still didn’t get a job. So I had to pester Paul a couple more times about my job insecurities. He constantly offered constructive advice and feedback, and was very encouraging even when I doubted myself. He even organised a mock interview session for me which proved to be immensely beneficial as shortly after, I got accepted into the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. I’m currently undergoing the Teach First Summer Institute and it’s extremely intensive but I’m loving every minute of it. I am very excited to start a career in teaching and provide the kind of guidance I’ve been receiving throughout my education.
Picking the right career and landing that first graduate job isn’t easy, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a wealth of resources that the university has to offer and I highly recommend every fresh graduate to go for it. It may not always be a straightforward or quick journey, but you’ll get there eventually.