The class of 2020 are undoubtably facing challenges as they graduate into a world affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In order to support our graduates we decided to reach out to the class of 2008, who faced similar challenges in graduating at the time of the financial crash, when many graduate recruiters withdrew their vacancies. In adapting our graduate success template to include more pertinent questions, we received some fantastic adice from the alumni who had first-hand experience of graduating into an uncertain job market.
Combining our alumni’s experience and suggestions with resources of our own, we hope that these blogs may offer you practical advice and support from the alumni who had first-hand experience of graduating into an uncertain job market. You can view the responses from the Class of 2008 in full on our website.
The next question we asked was, Taking into consideration the challenges facing new graduates entering into an uncertain job market, what advice would you give to students thinking about employment in your field?
After citing work experience as a beneficial factor in their career journey, it is unsurprising that many of our alumni surveyed recommended that students gain solid work experience in order to develop key skills. As Sarah Paget (MA Hons History and International Relations), an Events and Hospitality Officer at Leicester Diocese Conference Centre put it: ‘Employment of any kind makes you more interesting to potential employers. Don't turn down a job just because it's not what you want to do. The life experiences and opportunities will still build your CV.’ She then went on the suggest how students could gain work experience:
‘Recruitment agencies and temp positions are a great way to prove and build office skills. You also get the opportunity to "sample" job roles and industries through temp positions which could open up more opportunities or let you see a potential career path you hadn't considered.’
LinkedIn is becoming ever more important as a platform for advertising jobs, and is an excellent place to start when it comes to looking for work. If you are unsure how to use LinkedIn to aid your job search, we have created a Mini Career Course to take you through everything you need to know. You can find it here. We also have a Mini Career Course which will take you through finding vacancies, covering the types of opportunities available to you and how to access the ‘hidden job market’. You can find it here.
In the current climate, when recruitment opportunities are somewhat diminished, Edward Statton (MA Hons International Relations and Economics), Head of International Shipping and Counter-Piracy at the Department for Transport in London, advises: ‘Don't entirely focus on graduate schemes at the expense of other advertised positions. As with any large organisation, you may find that getting a foot in the door opens up plenty of opportunities.’ Elaine Packer (BSc Hons Zoology), who is a stay at home parent but has previous experience in the publishing sector, echoes this sentiment:
‘I had trouble finding a job at a graduate level. I took a data entry job before relocating and finding employment with a scientific publisher. I took jobs at a lower grade than I was qualified for and had to work up… Employment is more valuable than pride.’
Honore Dairou (MSc Integrated Petroleum Geoscience), who works as a Country Manager for Tower Resources Cameroon, echoes the value of seeking out opportunities during these difficult times:
‘The recession is a temporary moment and it is not going to last forever. There will be a need for new graduates who have shown initiative during the difficult time to keep themselves busy and up to date… Even during a recession, there is always an opportunity.’
It is very important to remain productive during this time, and to show initiative in working to develop your skills and attributes, either through work experience or other means. Brian Muguto (MA Hons Management Studies), who now works as the head of Strategy for MediaCom suggests that graduates should
‘Find ways to immerse yourself in the industry - events, conferences, webinars, etc. - especially where you can meet and connect with people on the inside - treat each interaction as an interview. Learn from any and every opportunity... be patient, don't give up.’
With the internet at our finger tips it has never been easier to find opportunities and network online. But you can go one step further. Mhairi Gowans (MA Hons History and Art History), who is Online Engagement Officer for the Alumni and Fundraising team at the London School of Economics, recommends graduates learn how to use the basic tools that will be useful in their field of interest, such as Adobe Creative Suite if, for example, you are considering a career in digital marketing. There are thousands of courses available online that have been created to teach you technical skills, and many of them are free to access. Check out our Wakelet for more information about how you can develop your skills from home.
With everything that is going on it can be hard to visualise the future, but our alumni provided reassurance in emphasising the temporary nature of the situation we currently find ourselves in. Ijeoma Okoye (Masters in International Commercial Law), who is manager of Contact Standards and Risk Management at Citgo Petroleum Corporation, reassures graduates that
‘The employment market may seem scary and impossible to get into at the moment… but be steadfast, never doubt your potentials… Never give up, keep pushing and believe in who you want to be and the race ahead. You'll surely make it.’
Resilience was a key theme for many of our alumni, and remains a pertinent topic for those graduating into an uncertain job market. Daniel Molyneux (MChem Chemistry), a Technical Advisor for Quest Integrity, suggests: ‘Think about how you can differentiate yourself, emphasising what you have achieved.’ This sentiment was echoed by another of our alumni, who commented:
‘Be ok with the idea that it might take a while to find a job, and that does NOT mean anything about you. You might need help to remember that, so talk to your family and friends about other things you're good at and why they love you - try not to pin all your self-esteem on having or not having a job.’
You can also talk to one of our Careers Advisers, who can provide guidance, advice and information regarding your employment situation and hopes for your future career. To book an appointment head to Career Connect.
Damilola Onalaja-Aliu (MBA (Human Resources Management)), who is Head of Organisational Development at Social Services Scotland, highlighted the need to
‘Focus on what you want, do not lose sight of it and remember that every lesson and every job is an opportunity to learn. Do not despise the small jobs or lose heart. You will be amazed how well the lessons learned serve you in the future.’
To help you understand the nature of resilience and why it is important, we have created a Mini Career Course which you can access here.