Final-year students: here’s what you should do before you leave

April 28, 2016
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My parents never thought they’d live to see the day when I’d be graduating from university with an actual degree. But now in my third year, with the weeks passing by though my fingers like melting butter and finding myself drowning in assessments, my ol’ folks’ dream could soon become a reality. Let’s just say that piece of paper is going straight to the pool room, albeit followed by many tears, champagne and swear words. And I’m sure mum will be happy, too.

University really just feels like a buffer zone for us school-leavers; a pillow-like cloud to lie on and relax within the three or so years you’re studying. It’s a time where it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you are going to do, because you’re learning and studying. And other then the dreaded exam time, this uni stitch-up is pretty sweet. Jokes on them, really.

Until, of course, we have to graduate. We’re thrusted into this big, wide world of ours, with no student services guiding us or lecturers holding our hands.

To all my fellow third-years and soon-to-be graduates: we need to pull up our socks and start preparing. Here’s what we should be doing before we leave.

Start networking

And not through your Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts. The age-old saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” couldn’t be more appropriate when it comes to jobs. Many industries will hire from inside recommendations. Use every opportunity as a platform to discuss your future goals and plans, to meet new people, and open doors. Even your next Uber driver could know someone.

Fix up your resume

I recently sat through hours of resume talk, which discussed how imperative it is that your CV should always be something you’re attending to and fixing up. It’s an ongoing process. It should be well laid out with a clear format, and professional. It should also present you in the best possible way, and must include your personal contact information, education, credentials, past work experience, achievements and so on. What is neither relevant nor necessary is what you did in high school. Also stay away from personal attributes – save that for the cover letter. And, finally, proofread. If you say “your” instead of “you’re”, I doubt you’ll get the callback.

Start thinking about what you want to do when you leave

The dreaded thoughts about your future! How scary they can be. But they’re also exciting, as we really don’t know what could be around the corner from us. As graduation inches closer, there’s no escaping the fact that one day we may need to get a real job. You only get one life, one shot, one opportunity (sorry), so you need to give it all you can – and thus stop watching Suits and figure out if you want to be a teacher (or not).

Internships

By now, hopefully you’ve been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale. Behind the mundane jobs and being treated like krill, I’m sure you can agree that you learned a lot, met some likeminded people, and added fuel to your fire. Internships look good on your resume, and can be a stepping-stone in your career path. If you haven’t got to it already, I’d hurry up if I were you.

Save money

This is, of course, after the mid-year European holiday. While we’ve been used to having a disposable income for quite a while now, units and cars and bills will not pay for themselves. It’s a sign of independence to be able to support yourself. Perhaps that may mean a few less cocktails, but hey, no pain no gain?

Apply for jobs or just start emailing

This is so companies know you’re interested and passionate (perhaps annoying). At least subconsciously, they will keep you in mind for when you are actively job-seeking – which isn’t too far away.

My mantra is, “What have you got to lose?” If the answer is just a slight amount of self-dignity, then I say, go for it. No one else is going to go out and chase our dreams for us. We have to be the ones to push down the doors, grab the lollie jars, and run. We have to run as fast as our little legs will take us into the big, wide world of ours and not look back. I wish you (and I) luck.

Avril Treasure

Avril studies Journalism at Notre Dame in Sydney. In her spare time she enjoys playing cards with her grandfather, drinking one too many margaritas and pondering hypothetical questions.

Image: Francisco OsorioFlickr Creative Commons license

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