Just graduated from uni or received your GCSE or A-Level results? Then it’s time to celebrate! But wait, that means it’s also time to enter the ‘real world’. No more sleeping in late, dragging yourself to lectures and partying all night. Instead you have to be an acceptable grown up and work out things like how to not run out of money before the end of the month and what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. No big deal, right? Fortunately, we’ve had a chat with some of the people currently on O2’s grad scheme to get their advice on preparing for the real world.
Realise you’re not alone
One of the best things to do when you’re finishing uni is to look around and realise that everyone is pretty much in the same boat. Almost everyone has no idea what happens after graduation, you’re definitely not the only one who doesn’t know what they’re going to do with their lives.
You might think that everyone has a job to go straight into, but we can assure that is not the case. “I didn’t have anything lined up. It would have been nice but I didn’t have anything and I felt a bit depressed,” says Laura – who now works in social media insights for O2. “You’re expecting to come out of university and be straight into a job but that doesn’t always happen.”
So, before you go into full-blown panic mode, just sit back and realise that you’re not the only one.
Develop a better sleeping pattern
University is great because you have a lot of freedom – which often translates, for students, into ‘a lot of naps’. But when you enter the post-university world people will expect you to be places before noon. Before ten in some cases. And while that might seem like an infringement of your human rights, let us assure you that it is not.
“Something I used to do that I found worked was to get up at 9, job hunt and try to find something in the morning, and then the afternoon is your free time to do what you want to do,” says Luke, who works in customer innovations propositions at O2. “That way you’ve got three or four hours blocked out for applications. It’s good to structure it like a working day so you’re in the right mindset when you do get a job.”
Get to grips with LinkedIn
Yes, we know that it’s terrifying but if you know your way around LinkedIn and how it works it could significantly improve your job hunt. “You have to get over that initial fear and realise that it’s a really useful tool for your job hunt,” Laura says. “I contacted people I knew on LinkedIn who worked for companies that I wanted to work for to get more information about them. I also got help with the application process [from my contacts].”
Get some experience in the real world
While your degree may have been brilliant – or it may have been terrible – academic achievement alone won’t cut it with potential employers. “They don’t want to know what you did in projects at uni,” Luke says. “They’re interested in what you’ve done in the real world.”
So get those work experience placements and internships lined up. Even get some part time or temp work – those transferable skills can really help flesh out your applications. Check out our opportunities pages for work experience placements and paid internships – and loads of events to help you land a job.
Work out a plan of attack for your job hunt
Job hunting is dull and a pain and a chore. But it’s a necessary evil. And it’ll be much easier (and more effective) if you have a plan of attack. “I took the scattergun approach,” admits Charlie who is the manager of the CEO’s office at O2. “But I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.”
It’s a good idea to research companies that you’d be interested in working for and finding out more about them. “It’s important to find the company that’s the right fit for you,” Charlie adds.
For more on life after university, have a look at…