Top graduate job-hunting tips of 2011: a review

Merry Christmas from gradireland!

We’ve spoken to hundreds of Irish students and graduates at various stages of the graduate job hunt over the past 12 months about their career aspirations, ambitions and experiences. As the year draws to a close, we take a look at the issues and observations that have mattered the most in 2011.

Overwhelmingly, the significance of relevant work placements/internships was of paramount concern to graduate jobseekers across virtually all sectors:

  • ‘An internship can be a great way to differentiate yourself from your peers while also allowing you to sample a job you are interested in’. (Corporate Finance Trainee, Financial Services)
  • ‘Take every opportunity to do a placement year – it’s the perfect chance to try out a company and find out what suits you.’ (Graduate Engineer)
  • ‘Don’t just stick to law firm internships – demonstrate commercial awareness by taking placements in banks and businesses too.’ (Trainee Solicitor).

But it wasn’t all about work experience. Graduates had plenty to say in relation to job applications, the dreaded job interview, and how to get ahead at work:

  • ‘Don’t rush into half-hearted job applications; spending time developing an effective CV and covering letter will improve your chances no end.’ (R&D Food Scientist)
  • ‘Interview early and often. I don’t know if I would have been as successful in the interview process here had I not had prior experience elsewhere’. (Software Development Engineer in Test)
  • ‘Get yourself a mentor. Being able to learn from experience and through others is vital.’ (Quality Assurance Lead).

At a time when funding for fourth-level study is being squeezed, deciding whether or not to pursue postgraduate education has become tougher than ever. Postgraduates of 2011 offer valuable advice:

  • ‘Put a lot of thought into further study and make a mature decision; you have to enjoy your research topic because you’re in it for the long run.’ (MEng, Waterford Institute of Technology)
  • ‘It’s important to have a strong, supportive network of people around you – other researchers and staff – as no one can achieve a PhD by themselves. Your research community and support network is vital and enriching.’ (Structured PhD, Tyndall National Institute, UCC)
  • ‘Check the credentials of the staff and departments you are interested in. What journals are they published in? What kind of research do they conduct? What reputation do they have?’ (MSc, Bangor University).

Whichever direction 2011 has taken you, all of us at gradireland wish you a very happy Christmas. We’ll be back in the New Year to help you make the most of 2012.

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