Studying is hard but trying to find that first job out of college is even harder. So we decided to list a few skills that studying should have taught you which will help you get that sought after initial position. In college students will go through many different learning curves, each one of them equipping undergraduates with competences that can help in your first professional job. Here are some examples of college experiences and what they teach us. Lectures/Seminars Lectures and seminars are classes where specialists in an area teach scholars in that field the key facts. These classes are places where students can ask questions and talk in groups about the practical application of knowledge that they are learning. Skills that you learn in lectures and seminars include: Time Management – To get to class (relatively) on-time Self- motivation – To do prior research and attend classes Listening – Taking the lecturers points into consideration Record Taking – Taking notes for further study/assignments later on Organisation – Planning ahead so that research and work is done before attending classes Thinking on your Feet – Seminars tend to be more rigorous, where lecturers will look to students to answer questions Assignments/Exams Every course has a marking system that includes assignments and/or exams. These test a student’s knowledge to devise whether a person has a good enough understanding of a subject to progress to another more complex module. To pass assignments/exams with grades high enough to pass comfortably student should possess skills like: Computer Skills – To present an assignment in an acceptable manner Research – Using previous notes and primary and secondary research to argue the points in an assignment/exam Communication – Using clear and concise findings to portray your argument in a manner that others can understand quickly and fully Deadline Management – To finish an assignment or exam on time is a hard to do but by achieving this the ability to manage deadlines is clearly a skill that you have mastered Rationalising a Point – Drawing on research and communication this skill shows the ability to stick to a perspective on a subject and explain your understanding of it to influence an audience to accept it Presentations These are necessary evils in most courses in college. Getting up in front of dozens of people can be daunting but the act itself teaches students a lot more than confidence. Teamwork – Most presentations are done in teams where the grade is divided out equally among members so everyone must pull their weight Negotiation – Influencing people to take your point of view is not an easy thing to do but when you work in teams a common goal must be achieved and negotiation is key to this Delegation – Someone needs to be willing to share out the work load so that the presentation is ready to go on the day. Practice beforehand is imperative and every member contributing to the work load is essential so delegation is an important part of team work Planning – It is important to ensure that everything will go as scheduled and everyone knows their part so a timetable needs to be devised and followed by everyone Conflict Resolution – Within groups there may be conflicts of character or a problem personality. The ability to resolve issues like this shows the skills of conflict resolution and problem solving Leadership – Every team needs a leader and depending on the person you are you could have been that leader. Did you motivate people to do their work? Did you manage the schedule and keep people focused? Did people look to you for guidance and standards? College teaches life lessons from independence to networking, to problem solving and beyond. When looking for that first job outside of college keep in mind that these skills are transferable, all you need is the confidence to know that your college experience was a learning curve. “You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Summer is coming to an end. You have spent the last three/four years in education in the hopes it gives you more opportunity to acquire the job of your dreams and now that you’ve finished college you’re finding it harder than imagined to get your ideal career started. You’re scouring the job boards, but every time you come across a job you’d like the dreaded line of “1 years experience” appears. Your blood boils and you scream “how I am I expected to get experience when I’m just out of college”.Most young people face this dilemma. Although education is a great foundation for any professional, experience is often the key to standing out among candidates who have the exact same degree as you. Employers when hiring are looking for someone who can get the job done and whilst they understand that it takes time for someone to learn the job, often having some experience in a related field means that the candidate is much more likely to pick up the ropes at a faster pace than someone else. However you shouldn’t let the work “experience” deter you, experience is not just working in a paid, full-time job it can also mean experience gained from an internship or volunteering. InternshipsAn internship or work placement is a great way for you to not only gain experience in your career of choice but also to expose yourself to a prospective employer. And yes, whilst you may have to work for free the pros of an internship in that you are gaining hands on experience in a real life working environment far outweigh the alternative of spending further months of job hunting. Consider an internship as a prolonged interview, if you are willing to work hard and show enthusiasm for the company chances are you may get a job in return. VolunteeringAnother way to gain experience is by volunteering your professional skills for charity. For instance, if you’re looking for a position in public relations or marketing, volunteer to help an organization in those areas. Volunteering anywhere improves your resume, but if you can work with a nonprofit that has connections with a company you want to work for, that’s even better. It shows you’ve researched the firm, and it’s a way to network your way to employees already there. Side ProjectsIf you’re really struggling to find something, then you could always consider starting something yourself as a side project. Being able to do something related to your chosen career will look fantastic to a new employer, especially if you’ve had the initiative to try and do something yourself. For example, if you’re looking to get into web design then having your own website from which you can explain your process, and how you’ve grown the traffic will really help you to stand out.
For graduates finishing up in college or university in order to get a job with little or no experience you will have to demonstrate good attitude, enthusiasm and determination to a would be employer. The world of business and college will be different but with the right attitude you can bring the best of both worlds together. Here are some tips to aid you in your job search. Be prepared to tell your story to a prospective employer. For would be graduates, make the most of your college experience – academics are important for sure, but so are all the extra curricular activities which develop skills such as presentation, leadership and teaming, all of which are very valuable to employers. What sets you apart from the others, what makes you a compelling employee over the competition? Do you have experience in business, think about participating in an internship programme or an initiative such as Accenture’s Leaders of Tomorrow Award. Graduate recruitment is demand driven, don’t wait for the demand – develop a compelling business case utilizing such initiatives as Work placement programme etc. Show your eagerness by approaching companies directly. Find out who is responsible for hiring, email them to enquire about potential opportunities within their organisation and follow up with a phone call. Even though the company may not be recruiting at the moment, it will put you in mind for future roles or they may be able to direct you towards a company that is hiring. Check out our current graduate jobs at Sigmar or email your cv to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our team on (01) 4744600
Some students go to college knowing exactly what they want to do, picking courses like medicine, nursing, or law which set them on a career path from the start. Others figure it out half way through and start looking for the experience or extra skills that will help them get their chosen position. And then there are those who haven’t a clue, get through their final exams and go….what now? I was one of those undecided students, I did my degree (European Studies) knowing that I wanted to do languages and also get a grounding in some other areas like politics and history, for me it was the perfect mixture of subjects. However when I started thinking about what I wanted to do when I finished the course I realised that the course was so broad it really didn’t help me in narrowing down what I wanted to do. This can be a problem for a lot of arts and humanities students, they go through college studying a wide range of subjects and then come out with relatively little practical experience compared to some other courses like law or business which will normally involve some sort of work placement. A lot of my friends who did arts related courses found themselves in the same situation, asking themselves what do I do next? Some decided to use their expertise in languages or history or geography etc. to go on and do a HDip and go into teaching. Some went on to do a Masters and gain more qualifications. Others started applying for jobs but had to ask themselves what jobs am I suitable for? And what ‘relevant experience’ do I have? Scouring job advertisements hoping the hated requirements for specific business or science related degrees wouldn’t appear! It is for these reasons that I have to praise graduate programmes! Previously arts degrees had a lot of stigma attached to them, they used to be seen as ‘airy fairy’ degrees, now a lot of companies will look to balance out their graduate programmes with arts students. They realise that they have a different way of looking at things than more technically schooled students. For all recently graduated students ‘transferable skills’ are key. Your knowledge of French Medieval history may not be relevant to a position you are applying to but your ability to research and present on a variety of topics most definitely is! Graduates need to think about ‘how’ they learnt, not just what they learnt in college. Most popular transferable skills: Team work – those awful group projects you did? They’ll come in useful in interview situations! Communication – gossiping may not count but debating in lectures will. Presentation – we all dreaded them but they had to be done and the experience will pay off now! Leadership – always nominated the speaker in your group work? Use it now! Interpersonal – Matched up with people you didn’t know too well? How did that work out? Organisation – planning a night out for a class of 40-50… Not easy! Organising yourself to get to class after that night out… also not the easiest! Problem solving – no readings done, class in 20 minutes…. quick google/wiki search – resourceful or what? Motivation – deadline approaching…no work done rewarding yourself with a big night out once the project was handed in, also can be seen as ‘setting yourself a goal’. *Disclaimer: These examples are not recommended for interview situations, they are aimed to get you thinking!*
It is a tough market for graduates. Demonstrate good attitude, enthusiasm and determination. The world of business and college will be different but with the right attitude you can bring the best of both worlds together. Here are some tips to aid you in your jobsearch; For would be graduates, make the most of your college experience – academics are important for sure, but so are all the extra curricular activities which develop skills such as presentation, leadership and teaming, all of which are very valuable to employers. What sets you apart from the others, what makes you a compelling employee over the competition? Do you have experience in business, think about participating in an internship programme or an initiative such as Accenture’s Leaders of Tomorrow Award. Graduate recruitment is demand driven, don’t wait for the demand – develop a compelling business case utilizing such initiatives as Work placement programme etc. Show your eagerness by approaching companies directly. Find out who is responsible for hiring, email them to enquire about potential opportunities within their organisation and follow up with a phone call. Even though the company may not be recruiting at the moment, it will put you in mind for future roles or they may be able to direct you towards a company that is hiring. A great way for getting your foot in the door is through an internship. Whether it be through Job Bridge or an unpaid internship, you are gaining relevant experience and it may lead to a position in the end. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=105&v=00RYsbs9U1I
People are always looking to better themselves through education in the hope that it will lead to job security or better job opportunities. Further education can be personally and professionally very demanding. It is imperative that perspective students understand their own needs, interests and what time they can give to a part time college course in order to maximise the chance of course completion and doing well in exams. To choose the wrong course is to throw away money and waste time. Colleges have varying options to accommodate the demands of perspective students. Distance learning, Online Courses or Attending Classes are the most viable solutions to completing a course while maintaining a work / life balance. Each option offers advantages and disadvantages: Distance Learning has the advantage of not having regular classes. Courses run by institutions such as Open University (UK based) or Oscail (Irish based) run weekend classes once a month while sending out the necessary relevant learning material and asking the student to submit assignments by pre-set timelines. Unfortunately if student hasn’t the ability to self motivate, or has constant distractions, it is very difficult to successfully complete a course this way. Online Courses do not have any classes at all therefore offering no demand on time for attendance. Online courses offer flexibility on when assignments are done to fit in with a busy schedule. The disadvantages are similar to Distance Learning with the added difficulty of not having the tutors to meet, making it onerous to get feedback on queries or guidance on subject matter. Attending part-time college offers all the advantages of full time college students. There is regular access to lecturers through phone, meetings and e-mail. The opportunity to interact with other students gives the opportunity to learn from others and easy access to libraries enhances the ability to read course material without the cost of downloading or needing to buy literature. In saying that, attending college is very demanding on time. College can consume anything from one to three evenings a week for the duration of the course. Colleges do offer the chance to take a course over a longer period in an attempt to lessen the time pressure on students. Weekend courses are also an option but again do consume a lot of time for attendance. On deciding which form of further education to follow, getting the work / college / life balance right is critical. In order to achieve the end goal, of a qualification and retaining a job, time should be taken to prepare for a new course. Some tips to assist in the succeeding of all aspects of college are: Organisation: Write down the agenda of what needs to be done weeks and months in advance. The start of a course can creep up quickly so creating a diary around attendance, studying and exams will help create a constructive pattern to help in progressing. Don’t forget to make time for food…….”A healthy body equals a healthy mind” Time Management: Institutions give a timetable (for classes, exams, assignment submissions etc.) in advance of the college year. Ensure to know the timetable to avoid the stress of “last minute cramming”. Prioritise: Once the course has started it is important to understand subjects that cause more “work” than others. Ensure to allocate appropriate resources to each subject allowing for the maximum chance of passing the course. Hard Work: Working a nine-to-five job is tough, add the pressure of college, and time will come where sleep feels like the only option available. Focus, take each day and each study session as it comes. When in class or studying, commit to the task at hand. Take as many notes as possible as writing helps solidify what has been taught. Further education coupled with work is tough. Remain focused on the goal, it is worth it. Make friends: Getting to know others studying the same course will help, it is a great way to see alternative ways of thinking about subjects. Other students are in the same boat so will be willing to help each other and empathise with the situation and challenges at hand. On the times you can’t make class, friends will take notes for you so nothing is missed. Persistence: Attend college. The longer the year goes on the harder it can be to attend. Winter nights, the rain, snow and darkness make everything tough. Persistence in getting to class and doing assignments will stand you in good stead come exam time.
Many PhD and Post Doctoral students go through their academic days with the assumption that they will continue their career in this profession once they’ve finished. However, academic posts are limited and there are only a few national research organisations. So when it comes to looking for jobs outside academia, where do you start and how do you convey your educational experience as an advantage? Recently members of Sigmar’s Science & Engineering Division were involved with a career clinic for PhD and Post Doctoral students and the following is our advice. CV Advice For a non-academic role, the emphasis is on the skills and experiences you have that are relevant. Many PHD students fall into the trap of preparing their CV for a non-academic role in the same way they do for a research position. Their CV reads as a typical research track record and there has been no attempt to tailor it for the specific position they are applying for. The key for a non-academic selection is to be selective in what you include and to tailor your CV to each role’s job requirements. For example only provide details of your research/publications if relevant to the position you are applying for. Employers are not just recruiting for your research skills, they also want to see problem solving, report writing, communication, time management, leadership, teamwork and project management skills. In completing your PHD, you already have these skills but you need to articulate them through your CV. Again from experience of writing academic CVs, PHD students tend to write passively and provide dense detail. For an industry position, you should have more “active language” (i.e. in the first person) and avoid technical or specialist terms unless relevant to the position you are applying for. If you have commercial experience, show it! Whether you have industry experience from a 3 month internship or a full time job, make sure to include this in your CV. Employers want to see you have industry experience. To Gain Experience There are a number of ways that graduates can be proactive in obtaining employment. Firstly show your eagerness by approaching companies directly. Find out who is responsible for hiring, email them to enquire about potential opportunities within their organisation and follow up with a phone call. Even though the company may not be recruiting at the moment, it will put you in mind for future roles or they may be able to direct you towards a company that is hiring. Secondly don’t be afraid of an internship! Many PHD students just have aspirations for academic careers, so when it comes to applying for non-academic roles they find they lack work experience. A great way for getting your foot in the door is through an internship. Whether it be through Job Bridge or an unpaid internship, you are gaining relevant experience and it may lead to a position in the end. Finally, with the job climate being as it is, having a PhD unfortunately doesn’t mean you will gain a senior role immediately. Be flexible about available opportunities, start at entry level and progressg quickly up the ladder because of your educational experience.