What Students Should Know Before Graduation


Graduation can be a bittersweet time. Students say goodbye to their familiar routine and take their first tentative steps into the world of work. It can be daunting, challenging, and even frustrating, but carving out a career can also be incredibly rewarding. It’s all about making the right decisions, knowing what options to turn down, and learning as you grow.


With graduation just around the corner, here are just a few pieces of career advice that all students should know before they start their career journeys.


Make a solid plan—and revisit it often.

Before you get started with your job search, take some time to consider where you want to go and how you want to get there. Having a career progression checklist will help you make difficult decisions, will prompt you to reflect on yourself, and increase your odds of success. Where do you want to be in 3-5 years’ time? Your motivation and interests are likely to change over the coming years, but it's important to regularly consider the direction you are taking.


Creating a career plan can also afford you an edge in the interview room. When you put time and effort into considering your future, it will become evident in your answers. Your interviewer will see that you are capable of thinking long-term and you are passionate about developing and advancing.


Embrace the power of being self-aware.

There are a thousand decisions we need to make in relation to our careers, and these choices are so much easier to make when we are self-aware. Consider your strengths, your limitations, and your preferences. If you are a creative type, you aren’t likely to be fulfilled by a highly analytical job. If you are a person who thrives outdoors, an office job might not work for you. Are you the type of person who can’t stand a traditional 9-5 routine? Or does this structure provide comfort?


Every job has some sort of trade-off. Consider what is most important to you. Is it your goal to earn as much money as possible, or to develop certain skills? Do you want to make a real difference in the world, even if it means you take home a small paycheck? There are no wrong answers, but graduates should reflect and be honest with themselves. Be confident with the decisions you make, don’t second guess yourself, and don’t make career choices just to please others.


Know when to turn down a graduate job.

We’re living in a competitive time for graduates. Caving into this pressure can prompt hasty decision making, and you might just end up accepting a job that isn’t right for you. You want a job that makes you feel challenged, rewarded, and content. This won’t happen if you snap up the first graduate job you are offered.


During your job search, remember that the interview process is for your benefit, as much as it is for the employers. Ask lots of questions about the role, but also about the company. Does the organization offer training? Will you be able to develop the skills you are looking to strengthen? Are they a forward-thinking company with flexible working, and do they encourage employee autonomy? Do they have a reputation for excellent employee experience? Know your value, consider what you really want from a job, and be selective about where you want to start out on your career.


You will probably transition a number of times during the span of your career.

Picking a career might feel intimidating at this moment, especially if you’re a person of many interests and you’re not sure what to pursue. You might worry that you’re limiting yourself by selecting one particular career path. Don’t worry, though; these days, careers aren’t entirely linear but rather blocks of skills and opportunities we all learn how to build. So it is likely that career transitioning will be part of your life, and that your career in twenty years’ time will hardly resemble the position you have now. Rather than getting flustered over your decisions, go full steam ahead and grab opportunities as they arise.


Hiring managers want to know you have grit.

If there is one thing hiring managers love more than anything else—next to natural skill—it is an employee with grit and determination. This is certainly the case with Google, where interviewers favor this characteristic above individual ability.


Demonstrate this quality in the interview room and it will certainly give you an edge over the competition. Come prepared with examples of how you persevered with long-term projects, and show your interviewers that you are enthusiastic, driven, and a wise investment that will help their company thrive long into the future.


Last Updated: April 27, 2017
About the author

Ida Banek

Ida Banek is a senior HR leader with 20 years of experience in HR. Ida’s company, GRIT International, helps global companies and eager individuals take control of their own careers.