University will be one of the best times of your life, and the three years or so that you spend there will be looked back on with great fondness. However, there will come a time when your degree course comes to an end and the real work starts – you’ll need to step out into the real world, stand on your own two feet and start earning money for yourself.
Whilst it’s great to increase your academic knowledge, there are some things that university can’t really teach you about: the street-wise knowledge of how you are going to go about finding the job that will keep a roof over your head!
1. It’s harder than you think
First things first – finding a job is much harder than you ever believe it will be! With so many people graduating from universities all over the country at the same time, and only limited jobs available, competition is immensely fierce. Recent statistics show that 8.5% of university leavers are still hunting for a job six months after they graduate.
2. You won’t be on a mega salary
You may think that just because you have a degree you’ll be entitled to a decent salary as soon as you set foot into the world of work. Sadly, this isn’t true at all. In fact, the average salary for a recent graduate across the UK is just over £20,000. Of course, the amount you earn will depend on the industry you work in; professions such as law and medicine pay higher, whilst and marketing and creative graduate jobs are often much lower. Location counts, too, with inflated salaries in London due to higher living costs.
3. You may not be doing what you wanted to do straight away
Everyone has a dream during the early stages of university, but your career ambitions may change when you realise what is required to get into the job you want. Being a high-flying PR specialist immediately after you graduate may not be possible, but may be something you can work towards by building up your experience in an alternative role or industry.
4. You don’t just have to apply for ‘graduate’ jobs
Careers advisors at universities are always trying to promote the specialist graduate jobs, which are often with big supermarket chains or high street stores. Whilst these can offer high salaries and lots of benefits, the competition is incredibly fierce. With these big corporate giants using complex e-recruitment HR systems to filter out those with experience and personality characteristics, you may be up against it. It’s often better to look for alternative avenues such as proactively approaching companies in the sector you want to work in, in the area you want to be based, to see whether they have any entry-level openings.
5. You should be getting experience early
Being academic can only get you so far in the real world. What company bosses are looking for more than anything is that you have relevant experience in a workplace environment. You will quickly learn this when you start applying for jobs, and many businesses will not even consider applications from those who have no experience. So try to do as much as you can in your holidays, or even work for free part time during term time to gain the experience you need.
Article written by Victoria Moretti