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How to prepare yourself for your future career without going crazy in the process?

Date:17 May 2022
Author:Weronika Sokołowska
Weronika Sokołowska, representing Poland and following a Master’s degree in Work, Organizational, and Personnel Psychology
Weronika Sokołowska, representing Poland and following a Master’s degree in Work, Organizational, and Personnel Psychology

From the youngest of age, we’re made to believe that every step we take, every move we make has a consequence for how our future unfolds. Of course, to some extent this is true and it’s wise to consider the potential results of our behavior, but how certainly can we predict the effect every single of our actions will have on where we end up years from now. When we are kids, even though it might be very hard to wrap our mind around all these choices, the worries might not seem as harsh because the future is still distant. Nonetheless, as we grow older and supposedly more mature, the future no longer seems distant and we, “huh, so this is what all of this hassle is about”.
As a recent Bachelor Psychology graduate, even after over 4 years of studying, doing extracurricular activities, and working I still wonder, “will all of this be enough to succeed?”. If you are a student who always tends to be busy, trying to catch up with the schedule, first, welcome to the club. It is certainly very demanding, but you are awesome for making it work, never forget this! Second, with this blog post, I strive to reassure you and put your mind at peace because there is only so much you can do to secure a safe future for yourself. The rest, sadly, might not be entirely up to you. Look at the situation during COVID-19, where even the most meticulous of plans might have been disturbed. Unfortunately, seeing how some of my close friends were affected by this unexpected turn of events really made me realize that even the most ambitious students, diligent planners, and motivated workers faced serious obstacles on their career paths. The toughest part in all of this: there was barely anything else they could have done to prevent this from happening.
The questions that I want to tackle in this brief blog post are: What does it mean to be sufficiently prepared for your future career? How to work on your employability during studies? And how to remain sane with all the related workloads?

What does it mean to be sufficiently prepared for your future career?

Let’s start with what does it mean to be sufficiently prepared for your future career? You might have heard of the term employability (yes, I also mention it a couple lines above) which relates to your desirability as a potential employee. Aspects that might influence your employability are for example your skills, abilities, or knowledge. It is worth remembering that your human capital consists of a unique set of skills and knowledge, that interplay and create a one-of-a-kind person, and therefore, worker so do not shy away from building on your strengths and interests. This unusual blend of characteristics might after all be exactly what your dream future employer is looking for in their candidates!

How to work on your employability during studies?

Moving onto the topic of employability, now I would like to talk about ways of enhancing your employability during your studies. There are various ways of approaching this matter whether it be working on your skills, abilities, or knowledge. Some students decide to take up a part-time job, an intern- or trainee- ship, or a voluntary position. Others choose to take up additional courses that build upon their area of expertise (elective courses, or for exceptionally high achieving students take on the Honors College), or completely unrelated extracurricular activities such as the Extracurricular Course on Entrepreneurship or Academic Learning Communities. Additionally, since here in the north of the Netherlands, one of the most important skills for many employers is fluency in Dutch, to stand out from all the other international candidates it could be beneficial to sign up for one of the Dutch courses from the UG’s own Language Center. Some of the other domain-relevant skills, often referred to as hard skills, you will develop throughout your studies whether it be programming, statistical analysis, or academic writing etc.. During your studies you will also likely develop some of the soft skills such as presentation, communication, or teamwork skills among many more. To become more aware of your employability, as well as learn about other career related topics you can also visit the UG’s Career Services, which offer their services for free to students who want to enhance their employability while studying.

How to remain sane with all the related workload?

Lastly, you must remember that your university experience will likely at times become demanding and with many other aspects of university life such as living by yourself, maintaining a social life, and having some personal time it might be hard to think of your prospects. As much as I wish to tell you that there’s a golden formula for making it all work, I really don’t know, because what might work for me, won’t necessarily be productive for you. What worked for me was that I started seeking employment at the University in my first year. I dealt with a lot of rejection because many positions were looking for students who had already finished their propaedeutic year. Nonetheless, seeking employment opportunities from such an early stage helped me find a position as a student mentor for my second year. After that I kept an eye on the student vacancy portal (back then CareerConNEXT and currently Gradleaders) to find suiting positions and I ended up getting employed as a student mentor for yet another course, the I Shop, and the Career Services. All these opportunities were a wonderful way to develop my professional skills as well getting valid work experience (with a fair compensation that helped me become financially independent). However, if you wish to fully indulge in your university experience while also taking out some valuable input for the further career steps, try to actively work on your self-development at least through half of your studies. This way you put aside enough time to enjoy yourself and a significant amount of time to become a highly employable UG graduate!
Good luck with everything and please reach out to me for any further information, I will gladly help you on your path towards your dream future career!  

I am happy to help you with any questions you have about the RUG or your kickstart in Groningen. You can contact me via my personal page.

About the author

Weronika Sokołowska
Weronika Sokołowska

Hey there, my name is Weronika Sokołowska, I just turned 24 and I come from Poznań in Poland. Even though this might be the first time you are hearing of this place, I strongly advise you to visit Poznań since it is halfway between Berlin and Warsaw (making it a trip of only about 2.5 hours each way) and is a truly astonishing and well-priced weekend-getaway spot. I am currently following a Master’s degree in Work, Organizational, and Personnel Psychology at the University of Groningen because I was not quite yet done with our University having just finished my Bachelor’s in Psychology in January 2021. Outside of my studies I enjoy helping students with their professional development by offering career advice on topics such as job interviews, being a strong and suitable candidate, or finding a proper match between yourself and the employer.

I really enjoy sharing and exchanging experiences with anyone who is either curious enough or willing to open up, so I am looking forward to hearing from you. Do not be shy and I hope to get in touch with you!