The Big Day You made it! After years of study and last minute cramming, nervous preparations for class presentations and endless fall outs during group work – at long last, graduation has arrived. Graduation day is not like any other day you will experience throughout your college experience. There is no fretfulness or tension like the morning of an exam or that dreaded click of the mouse to receive your results. All the hard work is done at this point and your graduation is finally a chance to celebrate your efforts. As humans, it’s great for the self-esteem to celebrate and acknowledge your hard grind. Spend the day with friends and family, its likely they are the ones who supported you and saw you through the tough times along the way. Take photos to cherish those moments later on in life. Chat to your classmates and see what they’re up to. It’s a great idea to keep in contact with old classmates and lecturers too – you never know when you might need their help.
So, what happens next?
If like me, you went straight to college after the Leaving Cert then you’ll understand the sudden halt in knowing exactly what to do in life. It begins when we start primary school, we usually have a bedtime and dinner is made for us, we move onto secondary school and we’re introduced to exams but our dinners are still made for us and finally we break out into college where there’s endless study and exams and if you move out… no dinner is made for you. Once we’re finished college, there’s no more direction, no guide or sign post showing us where to go anymore. Do we further our studies and do a masters? Do we travel for a year and see some of the world? Or do we jump straight into the big bad world and start building a career. There’s no right or wrong answer. It will be different for everyone.
The greatest thing about your degree is that it’s yours and nobody can ever take it away from you. While graduating is probably one of the biggest achievements of your life at this point, it’s important to remember that it’s just the first step. A degree does not guarantee you a job, however, it opens a huge amount of doors – each with exciting opportunities behind.
Oftentimes, it has become the case that there are many more graduates than there are employment positions. Therefore, it is important to stand out and offer something unique that other applicants can’t. Things that set you apart from the others can be anything from work experience, college achievements, volunteer work or whatever it is that can be used to generate interesting conversation in an interview with potential employers. During this conversation you have the opportunity to promote yourself and your achievements and essentially show off your personality. In my case, my employer was interested in my application because I worked during the Summer and on weekends. She felt this showed excellent work ethic, commitment, and the ability to manage my time between working and studying.
Other ways you can stand out is by showing some entrepreneurial skills by looking for your own personal projects while seeking work. Not only will this look great on your CV, but it’s also an innovative way of making money during college. It doesn’t matter if its supervising Leaving Cert exams, freelance blogging for some businesses or maybe helping family and friends with social media for their businesses, cease the opportunity, No matter how big or small the job, it’s great to add to your portfolio and contacts list.
The Big Bad World of Work:
Eventually the day will come when you take the first step in building your career. You’ll enter the work force with your new found knowledge, shiny new work shoes and a bounty of enthusiasm. You’ll think you have everything it takes to climb straight to the top of the career ladder and that you deserve it all, well, prepared to be humbled.
You will in fact start at the bottom of the ladder, probably on a low-average salary and soon realise that the real learning has just begun. This is where you will either fly or fall. At this time, its critical to be indispensable. Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way and give it 110%.
The best way to grow and improve your skills is by doing. Get stuck in, challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is so often seen as a negative result when in reality, it’s a learning opportunity on the journey to success. Take everything that happens on the chin, the good and the bad, they’re all experiences in both your professional and personal life and you’ll realise that the learning never stops. One saying that I like to live by is “If it scares you a little, do it”.
In saying this, it’s also important not to undervalue yourself. You’ve come a long way and deserve respect and fair treatment along this journey too. So, in conclusion, have a great, can-do attitude, challenge yourself and stay determined.
By Laura Codd
Bachelor of Business Honours (Marketing)