Monday, January 30, 2012

Pressure of final year

Read the second blog instalment from Lizz @CityGirlDiaries, our G.R.A.D. reaching for her dreams, and learn how she re-focused her approach to graduate job hunting whilst in her final year. 

Ever had to battle with the crowd of noises in your head all at once? All these voices seem to get louder the closer you get to graduation; as you are about to face the big bad world of bills, rents and student loan repayments, (well the idea of repayments anyway).

This was the way I felt when I was in my final year and at this point I had received more rejection letters than I would like to think (my nostalgia only gets me up to rejection letter 50), and they kept coming with each click of the submit button. As if the prospects of revising for upcoming exams weren’t bad enough, I also had to submit an endless list of coursework and on-top of that put together a mind-blowing presentation on Financial Management.

The icing on the cake is that you are in the same graduate boxing ring with hundreds of other graduates and post-graduates applying for the same job/position, trying to meet deadlines and catching those early applications and at the same time proving you are worth taking the risk on. All of the pressures combined makes for a battle ground of thoughts, choices and many ‘I don’t cares’.

It was at this point I decided to throw the net wide open and change my preferred career choice and, needless to say, it was a long way different from just ‘Accounting, Finance and Banking. I expanded my career net to Media, Advertising, Fashion Buyer and Journalism.

At this point, proving that I could do any of this would boost my ego and made me feel good. I needed a job after graduating and it didn’t matter where or what sector/industry. That was my only objective. However this became a set-back to me getting any job as there was a real lack of focus which prevented me from being successful in any application (harder when desperation sets in).

My point of desperation: calling every other day to ask – ‘Your mail said you would get back to me on Monday, it is now Wednesday’. ‘I called on Wednesday, you told me to call back in the next few days, I wanted to know how far my application has gone’ (it was Friday). Desperation does not look good on a graduate.

It took a mentor, refined focus and learning my lesson in order to realise where I was going wrong, and what needed to change.

A couple of weeks into second semester, I was lucky to get a mentor via my careers office. He asked me tough questions about what I really wanted to do. After telling him my above career net he said my true passion came out most when I talked about ‘Finance and Banking’. I gave him the application letter and CV I sent out to my careers advisors and when I revealed the phone calls I made, I realised how crazy I truly was.

My mentor was able to give me a mock interview, look through my CV. He kindly told me to rephrase but strongly advises me to remove – in my hobbies section; “I like to go for walks at night in the city” and my love of “ice-cream”. Also looked through my cover letter and showed me how a simple change of words can make a big difference.

Not everyone has a mentor at easy reach, but careers advisors can help you with refining your focus. They can steer you in the right direction and also help with checking your CV or cover letter. You can never have them checked too many times.

Whilst refining my focus I also considered the option of a Gap Year and the pros and cons of taking one.

Pros – a great experience and I have always wanted to travel & looks great on my CV.
Cons – needs money!

Amid the pressure leave your options open to new possibilities you haven’t considered. Don’t worry too much; cosmos and fate are not against you! Self-pressure and worry can cloud your thoughts and focus. A clearer mind breeds refinement and focus.

Before I completed my final exams, I got an internship, and before the end of that I received a Chinese Government Scholarship to learn Mandarin.

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