Five pieces of career advice I wish I could give my younger self
Most students who’ve graduated will tell you it’s hard to land a job straight out of uni. Few students breeze through uni and score their dream job as soon as they leave. Sometimes it can take months of further internships before you finally land a full-time gig.
Taking a few months off after uni is definitely not a bad thing – in fact, I'd probably recommend it. But if you’re worried about being unemployed and relying on Centrelink forevs, here’s some ways you can get ahead now.
Don’t put off that internship to your final year
Your first year of uni can be pretty daunting. There’s a lot of change and you might not be ready to tackle work experience yet. But honestly, you should start as early as possible. There’s probably never going to be a time where you feel ready – taking on that first internship will always be scary, no matter when you start.
But your first year might actually be the best time to start. A lot of your subjects will be introductory and you'll probably have a lot more spare time than you will in your final years. It also gives you time to sample a few internships and get a better idea of what you want to do.
Don’t diss working for free
It’s annoying, but it’s necessary when you’re just starting out and getting your foot in the door. This means you will probably work a few unpaid internships before you gain enough experience and skills for a paid gig.
Saying this, if you’re working for free you have to be careful not to be taken advantage of. If you feel like your employers have demanded you work way too many hours for free and you’re not gaining anything, it might be time to move on to the next internship.
Trial different workplaces
It’s not just important to suss out what industry you want to work in. It’s also important to get a feel for different types of workplaces to see what you prefer. This means trying an internship at that tiny start-up with less than 10 people, as well as having a go at a workplace with hundreds of employees. You might find you prefer one over the other. It’s important to know what workplace culture you like and feel comfortable in when you’re searching for your first full-time job.
Always ask for more
Whether it’s your first internship or your hundredth (exaggeration guys, hopefully no one has to do 100 internships), you should always be challenging yourself to do more. If you feel like you’ve aced something, ask for more work. This is how you’ll be able to gain even more valuable skills that will be worthy of your resume. Even if it’s not part of your job description, ask colleagues questions about what they’re doing and take the initiative to learn something new.
Differentiate between a bad day and a bad job
Nobody loves their job every single day. While the dream is to land a job you love 95 per cent of the time, there’s always going to be those bad days. But there’s a difference between having a few bad days and being miserable every day you go in to work. You shouldn’t feel like you have to continue with a job or an internship you hate. It could just be that you don’t like that particular workplace, or it could be that the industry you’ve chosen is just not right for you. Better to find out and leave sooner rather than later if that also means a potential degree switch.