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Seven Tips for Landing Your Dream Job After University

Date:16 May 2019
Author:Rachel Elliot
Dream job this way.
Dream job this way.

Ask any student and they will all agree that getting the elusive first job after graduation is a major challenge to overcome. But I am here to help: I recently received the amazing news that I had been accepted into a graduate traineeship in London which will begin immediately after completing my master’s degree. Out of the many jobs that I applied for, the job I accepted was the one I most wanted so, I am very proud of starting my dream job straight after University.

In this blog post, I will share the practices that helped me in the job application process. Remember, everyone’s journey is different, and these tips helped me personally. They will be of most benefit if you are applying to multiple traineeships at large companies, but there should be something for everyone. Overall, it is never too early to inform yourself about what kind of career you want after graduation, so these tips are relevant for all years of study.

Find out what you want

Choosing what you would like to do for 40 hours a week for the foreseeable future is not an easy task. An easy place to begin is to think about what you like about your everyday life right now. I knew I liked working in a fast-paced team environment which helped steer me towards opportunities I was actually interested in. Remember that realizing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want. You may have to go back and forth a few times to find out what you want but it will make finding your dream job significantly easier.

Research all opportunities

Whether you have decided what you want to do or not, it’s never too early to research what kind of jobs are available to you based on your degree program or experience. Take the time to look at industry websites, job listings on LinkedIn, or company profiles on their websites to gain some insights. You can also take advantage of the great career events that the University and study associations host with companies to make personal connections with people already working there. I would recommend doing this frequently throughout the academic year so when the jobs open, you are prepared to apply immediately.

Develop yourself

There is only so much that you can learn in the classroom and by engaging in life beyond academia you will grow into a well-rounded individual. Having a part-time job, playing a sport, or being part of a committee will also help you to stand out from other students competing for the same job. Rather than signing up for a lot of “prestigious” activities that you think will look good on your CV, get involved with a small selection of activities you are really passionate about. This is a more sustainable approach and your enthusiasm will shine through when talking about your experiences in an interview.  

Get organized

With competition in the job market being so high, it would be wise to apply to more than one company to increase your chances. Particularly if you apply for multiple traineeships at large companies, there will be a lot of deadlines for application forms, online assessments, and interviews. I personally had a spreadsheet to keep track of all of my applications and continued to update it throughout the process. I also kept copies of everything I sent to companies, so I could refer back to it for interviews.

Work on your self-marketing

Recruiters are not mind readers: they will only know about the amazing things you’ve done if you tell them! Make a list of all the projects and achievements from the past year and reflect on the skills you gained in each one. Update your CV and get it checked by the Careers Service at the University. Create a short elevator pitch where you sell yourself in 30 seconds. Doing this on a regular basis will ensure that you are always ready to apply to an exciting opportunity.

Practice

You may be a confident person when surrounded by close friends at University but that could all change when sitting in a graduate interview and you have no idea how to answer the first question. Look up the most common or the most difficult interview questions and think about how you would answer each one. Practice with as many different people as possible: your boss, a fellow committee member, and a family member for example. Personally, I significantly improved with each practice interview as I became more self-assured in my own abilities and learnt from feedback.

Trust your instincts

After all the hard work and you get the job offer, it’s an amazing moment to celebrate! However, it is worth taking your time and not rushing to accept the offer immediately. Reflect on your interview experience and the people you met, do you see yourself fitting in there? Ask your recruiter further questions about things that are important to you, such as the work-life balance, company values, and international opportunities. If something doesn’t sit right with you then you are completely in your rights to decline. After all, this is about finding your dream job!

While I found the process of getting my dream job to be difficult, especially while studying for my master’s, I can wholeheartedly say that it was all worth it. While many students are dreading the end of University, I am excited because I know I have this amazing opportunity and career ahead of me. 

About the author

Rachel Elliot
Rachel Elliot
My name is Rachel, and I am a master’s student in Supply Chain Management at the University of Groningen, originally from Scotland. After graduating in September, I will move to London to work in purchasing. Whilst I am sad to be leaving the Netherlands, I will stay in touch with the University by acting as an International Alumni Ambassador in the UK.