Dina's four tips for young alumni on a job-hunt
|Date:||01 April 2019|
Given that medicine is one of the longest studies you can do, the idea of starting work always felt very distant to me. Not in a bad way - I enjoyed being a student and I felt like there was no point in deciding exactly what kind of doctor I wanted to become in the first year of my studies. I wanted to keep my mind open and I was curious about all the different fields of medicine I was studying. This way of thinking continued for the remainder of my bachelor’s programme until suddenly I was in year six and realized - I will actually graduate in just a few months, I have to make up my mind! At that point, there was still a lot I was uncertain about. The first question was where to apply, geographically. I was born and raised in Norway and my original plan was to go back home after obtaining my degree. At the same time, I was having the time of my life in Groningen, where I have built a new network of friends and connections over the past six years. I also did not know which department I would like to work. I found several of my internships the past few years interesting, which made it even harder to choose the direction I wanted to go, professionally.
All this felt very chaotic. During your study, you have exams, you do internships, and everything follows a certain plan. Suddenly, after you graduate, you are free to do whatever you want! Even though it is very liberating, having too many options can sometimes (at least for me) be stressful. How do I know for sure that I am making the right decision? In the end, with only a couple of weeks left to graduation, I had a revelation. I realized I was not ready to leave Groningen just yet. I have been so busy with finishing my study and thinking about the future that I forgot to enjoy my time in Groningen and say goodbye properly. So leaving did not feel like an option anymore. Which was a big relief; I was one step closer to a decision! Once I knew I was staying, everything suddenly became easier. I really enjoyed the internship I was doing at that time, and even though they did not have an open position at the moment, I decided to apply. I still was not sure what I wanted to do for the rest of my career, but I felt certain that this would be a very good start. Long story short, I am currently working at the very same department I was studying at, and I could not be happier with my decision!
Here are my 4 tips:
- Start thinking about what you want early on. When you know what you want, it is so much easier to go all in and get it. Try to figure out whether someone in your immediate network knows someone who works in the field/company you are interested in and whom you can approach to get a better impression of the position you want. PS: If you have a clear idea in advance, you may also have time to get a relevant part-time job, which could give you an advantage when facing the competition when applying to your dream job.
- Do a short internship/shadow someone (for a day) at the company you would like to work. My experience is that a lot is possible if you dare to ask! Maybe you even know someone who knows someone at your preferred company. This will 1) give you an insight into what a normal workday there looks like and 2) help you expand your network. Even if you might not get a position, you will improve your CV and use this experience as a reference.
- When possible, show up in person. Whether you only want to ask about a position or you want to apply for one, my experience is that people will be more inclined to help you if they can see you face-to-face and get an impression of the person they are talking to. This is a great chance to make a good first impression, which can help set you apart from other applicants.
- Always ask someone to proofread your CV and cover letter. After reading through something I have written myself a certain number of times, I often cannot see my own mistakes anymore. Unintentional typos or unclear sentences/arguments really affect your application negatively, and are often easily avoided by asking someone else to look at your text (especially when applying in a language that is not your native tongue).