You will have heard the saying ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ that gets you a foot in the door. This was certainly true when I started out after completing my BA at Victoria. Having a flatmate with a job in a recruitment agency, who told me about their need for a temporary receptionist, was both fortuitous and expedient. It may not have been my dream first job but it was an opportunity; in pre-Seek days, a recruitment agency was a good place to be when looking for a graduate job!
I recently read an article which contained a piece of advice worth adhering to: ‘always leave a position or department better than you found it.’ By going above and beyond what is expected of you in the role, not only will you benefit by learning and trying new things, but your efforts will be appreciated by your employer. By being proactive in my temp role at the agency (they simply appreciated having someone who could spell!), the consultants were willing to recommended me for positions that they were advertising. And that lead to full-time work in an industry I hadn’t even considered before.
My top piece of career advice is to use your networks. Tell everyone who will listen that you are looking for a job but first ensure your CV is up-to-date and you are clear on what you can offer potential employers. Unsure where to start?
Use your university Careers Service – At Victoria Careers and Employment we can help you with career advice, your job search, CV checks, interview skills, networking workshops and much more. A graduate who has just started in an exciting role with the Ministry of Social Development, recently told us how much she appreciated the help, right from her initial application through to the final interview.
Use your time to volunteer – As part of the team managing the University’s service and leadership programme, Victoria Plus, I have to include this one. There are so many benefits to volunteering and here is a special acknowledgement from one of our Award recipients on the value of her extracurricular experiences.
“I have been accepted into the Teach First NZ 2017 cohort which is an incredible opportunity that the skills I gained through Vic Plus have essentially given me. Throughout the application process, I found myself constantly referring back to my Vic Plus ePortfolio, and during the assessment centre (rigorous!), one of my characteristics that stood out to the assessors was ‘strong self-reflection’ and Vic Plus really fostered that in me! I am so grateful that I have all these volunteering and service experiences to draw on when giving examples of knowledge, skills and personal characteristics in interviews and applications.”