The year has barely begun to turn yellow an autumnal and already so much has happened. This is no longer a new year blog! In the wake of recent tragic events in Aotearoa, it is hard to focus. However in a way, planning for another year of career seminars and events, is a good opportunity to reflect. What did we learn last year from our graduates’ stories? What were our graduates telling us about the paths taken, mistakes made, lessons learned, opportunities, setbacks and sweet successes?
Our Careers in Focus events are a particularly rich source of graduate stories – these are evenings where a panel of graduates who studied your subject area and are now working in pretty fascinating jobs talk in a fairly no holds barred way about how they got there. After the panel session, there is the opportunity to ask questions and practice your all-important networking skills with panel speakers or employer representatives.
So for example, there are such events for all the different possibilities with a Law degree; working in the public sector, in smaller commercial or boutique firms, in criminal law or litigation. What to do I do with my Maths or Statistics degree? I’ve majored in Finance at undergraduate or postgraduate level: now what? How employable am I with a humanities or social science degree? Should I do postgraduate study? What are all the job possibilities with a Building Science degree?
There are so many good reasons to hear the stories of people who have trod the path before you (or hooned it on a Lime scooter). It doesn’t matter if you are in your first year of study, mid-study and considering applying for internships or in your final year. There are takeaways from every age and stage and for every possible discipline.
Here were the top four takeaways for me from Careers in Focus in 2018 (that will be helping me shape up events for this year):
- One size doesn’t fit all. Everyone has their own unique skill set, regardless of what they studied. Also there are different measures of success, based on ones culture and context. The path to getting to success is seldom linear.
- Some things are universal, though. All our graduate panelists took risks to get the jobs they are in now, however they were almost all (with rare exceptions) thorough in researching the organisations they wanted to work for, persistent in making contacts and networking and meticulous with job applications or communications with employers.
- There will be something for you regardless of whether a person who studied your major is on the graduate panel at that event. It’s great to meet phenomenally successful alumni that studied our subject, but there is more to learn from people about how they overcame challenges to find the life/work that is right for them
- No matter how awkward you feel, networking can be fun. People are very generous with their time, and in fact enjoy talking about their career journey, even phenomenally successful alumni. Last year I met CEOs, High Court judges, entrepreneurs, conference keynote speakers…and they were human! Approach that “unapproachable” person during the networking session and you may find yourself engrossed in a fascinating conversation with a (very Wellington) coffee meeting in the offing. Here’s what networking with employers looks like for reals. Give it a try!