Managing your graduate career

When you're in the first few years

For many students, moving into the workplace following graduation can mean having a job for the first time, or working in a new type of role following studying for a career change.

Either way, the first few years tends to involve a steep learning curve which may be vastly different from sitting in lectures and writing assignments. Learning at this stage involves getting used to company procedures, working with people you don’t know, and even getting to grips with the work itself.

Here are some useful tips and advice about how to make the transition into the graduate workplace, how to manage your own career in those early years:

A day at university is different to a day in the workplace. Employment tends to be more structured; hours of work, meetings with team members and clients, lunchbreaks etc. Most learning in the workplace happens ‘on-the-job’, and there will be aspects of a role that will require not just learning the job itself. This could involve learning professional email and telephone etiquette

You can’t choose the people you work with, so you will have to get used to learning to work with a range of people.

Depending on the job or career sector, many roles will usually have training opportunities as part of starting the job e.g. systems, processes, transferable skills training e.g. presentation, communication. Many opportunities may offer graduates the chance to gain a postgraduate or professional qualifications aligned with a professional body associated with certain career areas e.g. marketing, HR, accountancy.

If an employer provides training opportunities, as a graduate you are encouraged to make the most of these opportunities as they offer the chance for you to develop new skills which can only enhance your employability. They can also open you up to new opportunities to discover where your future direction may lie.

Unless you have studied a vocational subject at university e.g. teacher training, nursing or paramedic training etc., you may find that much of the theoretical subject knowledge from your degree may not be applied directly to your job. Gaining a degree demonstrates learning agility and the ability to utilise a range of skills to achieve a qualification. This capability and level of thinking and range of skills developed whilst studying for a degree, can be transferred to numerous career sectors.

The learning process doesn’t stop when you graduate. Leaving university and starting work can feel exciting but also daunting at the same time. As with anything in life, it can take some time to adapt to a new environment and get to grips with the working world.


When you don't like your graduate career or job choice

In the early stages of your graduate career it’s not unusual to question whether the role or career you have entered after university, is right for you. If you find yourself in this situation, you may wonder about what your next step could be.

It is really important to remember that any experience is beneficial to you, even if you don’t enjoy the job, or you are not so sure any more about your career choice. The experience may have given you the chance to meet new people and develop your professional network, become competent in skills which could be used in a future role e.g. you have become very good at managing your time or increased your confidence in communicating with a range of people at different levels within a company. These are useful skills in any job role!

Woman writing in a planner with the word 'planning' visible

Seeking careers advice

You may find it useful to discuss your possible career options and future direction with a careers adviser. As a Worcester graduate, you can access the services of the Careers & Employability team for three years and beyond. You can book a careers appointment to talk through your ideas or options. There may also be further careers advice support for people already in the workplace available through the National Careers Service.

Searching for a new job

You may be keen on remaining in the same or similar sector but not be keen on your current role. Our graduate jobs page includes resources to help you find a job as well as links to the some popular online job sites. We also have guidance on the application process, including writing a great CVs, completing a successful application form and excelling at interviews


When you're ready for career advancement

When you have been in the workplace for a few years after university, you will have gained much experience. This may mean you ‘outgrow’ your role and you are ready and keen to progress into a more senior role. For example this could be with the same employer or another organisation in the same career field.

When you get to the stage when you are ready to advance, there are a number of ways you can try to find relevant opportunities:

There may be progression opportunities in different departments or teams within the company. Employers tend to advertise these opportunities internally to members of staff only.

These tend to be development opportunities made available to high performing staff in a company, which offers them the chance to work in a different role within the organisation for a fixed amount of time. This offers employees the chance to develop their skills and knowledge. These opportunities may be advertised internally to staff, or may come about through “expressions of interest.”

Many career sectors have job vacancy websites which tend to only advertise job vacancies within specialist areas e.g. marketing, charities etc. If there is a professional body linked to a career area, their websites can be a good place to start as they usual have a jobs section e.g Chartered Institute of Marketing etc.

They act on behalf of companies to advertise and find suitable candidates for a specific job. The main benefit for a job seeker is that once they register with an agency, they may potentially have contact with a number of companies. This may offer you more exposure to a range of possible job opportunities rather than just applying to one company.

Recruitment agencies may also specialise according to industry sector e.g. finance, charity, healthcare. It is worth having a look at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation website, where you can access a list of recruitment agencies. 

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