The Graduate Story: Preparing for Life after University

Final year is often the most daunting for students, and not just because of the workload and pressure to succeed, but because of the big bad world that lays waiting to gobble up fresh graduates after. Life would be much easier just living in the bubble of university, right? However, continuing like does not open you up to the many exciting opportunities that you could miss by choosing to stay within this comfort zone. Rather than regarding final year as simply an ending, it’s better to see it as an entrance into new and exciting opportunities. So even if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your final year thesis and projects, here are 3 steps to help you prepare for life (and success) after university:

  1. Plan ahead

The first step before you embark on anything is to narrow down your possibilities. Trying to consider doing everything at once is only going to make you feel even more overwhelmed and you will end up achieving nothing. Decide on what it is that most inspires you or feels like the most exciting to do after your university experience. Teaching your native language in a foreign country? Travelling? Volunteering? Getting an internship? Scribble down your ideas and then use all the resources around you that will help you find out more about these different options.

If you are currently at University and there is a career centre, ask about any events, seminars or fairs that might help you learn more about the path you have chosen. Job hunting should not be treated as anything less than a full-time job, and whilst this might be difficult to manage whilst studying, the more time and effort you put in, the more you’re likely to get out of it. This not only includes searching for jobs, but writing a good CV, filling out applications and writing cover letters where necessary. As it has been said, “Fail to plan, and plan to fail!”

  1. Search, find and connect

Make sure to utilize all the possible online resources at your disposal to help you achieve what you set out to do. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all regularly used by jobhunters and headhunters alike, so it’s important to not only use all three, but maintain a clean and professional profile on each. Join groups, follow pages and do whatever else you can to expand your possibilities.

LinkedIn is probably the best of these to use for networking and to follow companies and opportunities you are interested in. Let people know that you are seeking a specific role or opportunity by updating your status and adding connections. Often it’s more about who you know than what you know!

Use this research time to understand the type of job market that you are going to, and what roles most fit with your skills and experience. If you have little of either, an internship is probably going to be the best option for you, so don’t waste time searching for positions that may look cool and flashy but ultimately prove that you are too under qualified to get it.

Last but not least, if you are searching for jobs in another country, it is essential to use social media networks and job sites that are frequently used by people in the country. You’ve done the networking, now it’s time to start acting like a local by using the tools that specifically correspond to your choice destination. There will often be much less competition in these places too, so they are worth checking out.

  1. Close the deal!

Now that you’ve secured an interview, you’re one step closer to making your dreams a reality. The final stages, if anything, are just as important as the first, so it’s key to make sure you give the right impression. Whether you’re going to an interview for an internship, job or volunteering placement, it’s important to make sure you dress the part. The employer will want to know you can fit in with their culture and team, which will not only be read in the way you dress but also body language and attitude.

Interview

First and foremost, the dress code for an interview (unless otherwise stated) should always be smart, so make sure you dress in a formal suit and the employer will see that you have at least made an effort to look the part. Secondly, be enthusiastic! There’s nothing like a genuine smile combined with some warmth and enthusiasm in your voice to show them you are confident and really want the position.

Thirdly, make sure your body language is open: don’t hunch over, maintain eye contact and feel free to make hand gestures if you think it will help you express yourself. Don’t forget to always open and close the interview with a handshake. This is not only common practice but demonstrates good manners in general.

Last of all; never go to an interview unprepared! This will only reflect on you poorly, and the employer is much more likely to select the candidate who knows something about their company because they have done their homework. Try to think of all the questions that you might be asked. This could include anything about your strengths, weaknesses, experience, skills, what you know about their company and why they should hire you.

Come up with a list and make sure you have some answers prepared for each. Finally, since an interview should be more of a conversation, make sure you have a couple of questions ready to ask them at the end. This will show genuine interest in working there and that you have gone the extra mile to stand out.

Does this help? We wish you all the best with your final year studies and the next stage that is waiting for you! And of course, don’t forget to check our jobs page www.europelanguagejobs.com/jobs for all the latest openings!

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