Get the company right and your career will follow

If you’re unsure about which graduate role might best suit you – don’t panic. Very few people land the job of their dreams at the very beginning of their career. As you are likely to change jobs several times over the course of your professional lifetime, is it really a big deal if your first position isn’t The One? Rather than obsessing over specific roles, a much more useful strategy would be to make sure that the company to which you’re applying is the sort of place you can develop a career, and that you would be happy working there.

‘It doesn’t necessarily matter which role you start out in’, a young business analyst at a financial services company in Dublin told me recently. ‘I got my foot in the door at my company because I recognised the opportunities they offered.’

Delighted with his current position, he began his professional life in quite a different role. After graduating he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do, but he knew precisely which organisation he wanted to work for: ‘I actually started out as an HR intern. This was quite different to my educational background and leanings but I felt that it would be a good strategic move.’ And it paid off: ‘Spending time in HR gave me invaluable insights into the company from the inside. After three months as an intern I interviewed for my current – permanent – role, and got the job.’

Ask yourself: Does the culture and values of any prospective employer chime with yours? Do they offer clear room for career progression? What training do they provide? Talk to recent graduates who currently work at the companies you are interested in to gauge the inside track.

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