2018: Get your graduation year off to a positive start

While the early weeks of 2018 can be filled with resolve and renewed endeavour, it’s important to remember that 75% of new year ‘resolutions’ will frequently fall by the wayside by the second week in February. Resolutions can be noble in intent but if they don’t succeed, then they can dent your confidence and willingness to try again. Instead, why not focus on being better in 2018 then you were in 2017 and giving yourself the best chance over these next few months to prepare for the career you want. So let’s get started.

Visualise

Yes, that may sound vague. but it is very important to take some time to think about what you want and what you would actually see yourself doing if you attain it. Of course, taking time to do this shouldn’t just be confined to January, but that’s where we are so let’s start here. Think about what it is that you really want from your career. Is it a high salary, or an employer that offers you room for personal development and matches your values? Of course there are companies that offer both these things, but you need to prepare your mind for making choices as you decide where your priorities lie in life. If you’re thinking about these choices, then you’ve likely made some decisions already. If you still feel that you haven’t chosen any clear direction, take some time to take stock of where you are, talk to your friends, family and book a session with your careers advisor, there is help all around you. Hopefully you have gained some experience of the working world at this stage through a placement or internship, so think about how this has impacted on your skills and your view of your studies and how you can best apply them. Again, taking time to visualise is very important, but make sure that you do it while having some tangible results in mind. It could be brushing up on some skills that you know will be important for assessment centres, or identifying companies that you plan to apply to and, if you’ve missed any Autumn 2017 closing dates, ensuring that you keep a close eye on any upcoming application deadlines. Focus on taking small tangible steps, booking a careers services appointment, taking some free online psychometric tests, making contact with someone working in a company or area where you want to work. The more progress you make, the further you will want to go.

Develop a personal network

Building on what I mentioned in the above paragraph about making contact, networking is really so important, but not solely in the social media context of course. Following companies and business leaders on LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms will provide you with useful insights, but personal connections and interactions are where the real opportunities lie. An article in Business Insider last year said that over 80% of jobs were being filled through networking and personal connections. While that figure would likely be lower for graduate jobs, due to the lower levels of experience, the principle remains sound. If you’re building your network online, remember that the quality of your connections is a lot more powerful than the amount of them. If you’re looking to meet up with people to ask for advice, most people are helpful where possible but also remember that their time is valuable so make sure you respect that. If you’re based in a city there are also likely to be a large number of organised networking and information events that you can attend, which can be a great way of initiating contact with relevant people.

Add some skills and take care of the important stuff

While taking stock and looking to the future are both vitally important, it is equally important that you remain realistic about that challenges that lie ahead. And they can indeed by daunting. Preparing for exams, while in tandem laying the groundwork for what you will do post-graduation, is a lot for anyone to take on. When you can, try and arm yourself with new skills and tools that can help you succeed. It could be a short online  course, or some volunteering or networking or a collaborative project, something that would add a tangible extra to your CV and shows that you consistently went the extra mile when you could in order to add to your skill-sets. That’s what recruiters and employers are so keen to see. But like anything else, try and do it when you have time to do it properly. It’s important that you take time for yourself during this incredibly stressful time of your life. If you’re seeking to develop skills or learn something new, try and do it with somebody, which can provide a great level of support and mutual motivation.

Our last message would be to ensure that you take care of what you have, take time for your health and your own mental well-being. There are more supports out there then ever before, but more and more young people are also feeling the strain like never before, so designate some time every week for relaxing and focusing on yourself. Stay active and stay social. When you’re in a good place physically, mentally and socially you will be so much better prepared for facing into the challenges that 2018 holds.

Visit the dedicated advice section on gradireland.com for more resources and information. For some unique, experiential based advice on what various careers and jobs involve, why not visit gradireland Live on February 15th at the RDS. Admission is free when you register here

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