This feature was written by freelance writer Natasha Preskey…
When 11-year-old you was reading your orange squash stained copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, your future career was probably the last thing on your mind. Fast forward ten years and we could all use a little wisdom from J.K Rowling (and, ideally, a magic wand).
1. Your exam results don’t need to define you
Harry and Ron never bothered to head back to Hogwarts to take their N.E.W.T exams, but that didn’t stop them from becoming successful aurors. You don’t get much more ‘university of life’ than socking it to the dark lord, after all.
Sure, you may not have fame or, err, magic on your side but three As at A-level and a 2:1 aren’t the only route to success. Check out our opportunities page to see just some of the work experience placements and apprenticeships you can apply for to help launch your career.
2. Don’t let your parents choose your career path for you
Fred and George chose to ignore their mother’s advice to stay in school under the rule of Dolores Umbridge and instead opened successful joke shop: Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
This isn’t the wizarding world and, by law, you do have to stay in education and training until you’re 16 (or 18 in England!) but that doesn’t mean your parents should choose what direction you take career-wise. They may have some good advice for you, but you’re the one who’s going to spend the next sixty years on your chosen career path. What’s worse, a bit of disapproval over your mum’s lasagna or a lifetime of boredom and resentment?
3. Check out your predecessors
You’re probably not going to end up with a wiped memory or with Voldemort’s face growing out of the back of your head like Hogwarts’ unfortunate defence against the dark arts teachers, but it’s still important to check out the history of a new position.
A job or internship might sound like perfect CV fodder but it can be helpful to have a LinkedIn stalk to see what previous interns or junior staff at a company are doing now. Did interns get kept on after their stint was over? How long did the last three people to the do this job stay in the company?
Asking about what those who’ve done a job before you went on to do afterwards or what opportunities there are for development within a company is also a good move at a job interview.
4. Don’t take on too much
Remember Hermione’s time-turner? You might well daydream about how much richer you could be if you had one, but overloading yourself doesn’t help you build a good reputation. If you’re doing a week of work experience, for example, don’t pack out your evenings, especially if you’re not used to working a 9-5.
Much more important than whacking a token bit of experience on your CV or quick piece of work in your portfolio is being remembered by people for the right reasons and producing work that reflects your ability.
5. Be nice to EVERYONE
If anyone knows what it’s like to have a raw deal employment-wise, it’s Dobby the house elf. If there’s one thing we learnt from Dobby’s difficult (and, sadly, short-lived) career, it’s that you should treat absolutely everyone with respect and compassion.
The Malfoys treated Dobby crappily and the elf later betrayed them by telling Harry about the Chamber of Secrets and then foiled them by saving Harry from their clutches in the Deathly Hallows. Be nice because you’re a decent human being but, failing that, be nice because if you treat someone badly on your way up, you genuinely could end up meeting them on the way down.
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Images: Warner Bros