The news is full of scary stories about tough job markets, student debt, public sector layoffs, increases to loan repayments and possible restrictions on allowances. While job prospects in some sectors such as IT, engineering, building, telecommunications and commerce appear to be growing, for freshly minted graduates with majors in humanities and social sciences the forecast can seem very bleak indeed. Without a specialist career path in a growth industry, what can you do when it comes to finding a job?
Firstly, own your degree. My heart sinks every time I hear a student say, “I’m just doing a BA”. There is no just about it! It is your degree, you have worked hard for it and you deserve to be proud of it. You chose your major subject for a reason – communicate your enthusiasm for it and the skills you have gained. Take time to reflect on your studies and figure out how to apply what you have learned to your job search. Vic Careers has just introduced a new workshop called Inside Out Learning which will help you do just this. Keep an eye on CareerHub for this workshop.
Embrace your freedom of choice. Because an arts degree doesn’t necessarily lead down a defined career path, students have more career options to explore without the pressure to excel in only one area. Many companies look for well-rounded graduates with solid skills and a desire to work hard and learn new things. It is a good idea to incorporate extra-curricular activities or volunteer work into your student life as these will give you more professional skills to draw on.
Use your initiative and those creative thinking and communication skills that you have gained during your studies to get your foot in the door. Attend speaker events, seminars and public lectures (especially those with the opportunity to meet the guest speakers), Careers Expos, employer presentations and arrange to meet with professional people you know. Volunteering will also introduce you to a range of people. If you need help, attend one of our networking workshops at Vic Careers and gain some great tips. Build a strong network with lots of contacts and you’re more likely to hear about opportunities. I have gained several new jobs through word of mouth and referrals from short-term contracts – you just need to let people know what you are looking for.
Create a vision for yourself. Try to express your personal ambition or a goal that you want to work towards. This will help set you apart from other graduates and shows you are focussed. Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly want you want to do – it doesn’t need to be a grand life plan. A specific and achievable goal is fine ie ‘I am seeking an entry level position where I can be part of a team and contribute my academic knowledge and practical skills relevant to (this industry). I am particularly interested in consumer and social research.’
Finally, don’t wait for a job to find you – put in the work and go and get one! Think positive and good luck!