When you are making your career plan, you may feel some anxiety over how to choose your first job after graduation. Am I making the right decision? Am I in the right industry? What if I change my mind later on?
As a Recruiter and Career Coach, I have worked with numerous young professionals who are unsure of where they want to end up or are considering a career change. If any of these questions have ever crossed your mind, read on for my top tips for new graduates looking to kick-start their career.
1. Understand your working style
This is key to gain a clear picture of where you want to end up in 5, 10, or 15 years. If you are a fast-paced project manager who likes being in a growing industry, then perhaps government isn’t for you. This was the case with me – I started my career in telecommunications not because I was particularly interested in technology but because I knew that it was growing, fast-paced, and fit my working style.
To evaluate what type of worker you are, think back to projects you have completed in the past that you enjoyed and inspired your creativity. Then, do your homework! Delve into your network to find professionals who work in an industry that you might be interested in so that you can plan an informational interview. Check out growth and economic trends using online resources. Then, reflect back on all that you have learned so that you can decide whether or not your personality fits the industry you are interested in.
2. Look into the company culture of the organization you would like to join
Once you have narrowed down which industry you would like to work in, switch your focus to specific organizations. Different companies will have very different cultures, and you may not want to work in some. Before you sign a contract, ask the manager to brief you on their managing style. If you are uncomfortable doing this, perhaps request the contact information of someone who works with them so that you can gain a more comprehensive picture of what you’re getting yourself into. Remember – you could be the best financial analyst in the company, but if your working style is totally incompatible with your manager’s leadership style, you may not have the same opportunity to grow and cultivate new skills as you would with other companies.
3. Understand that the decisions you make now will impact you in the long-term
You may have heard professionals say that it is easy to make an industry change in today’s work environment. I’m not going to contradict them. With time, effort, and an investment, you will certainly be able to make a change to a completely different career by leveraging your soft, transferable skills. However, the fact remains that your first career will open up many doors for you. When I was working in telecommunications, I found that a lot of the opportunities coming my way were with companies that were tech-related. In order to get where I am now, I had to broaden my knowledge and experience in talent consulting by investing in my MBA. I also chose to complete professional life coach training in order to gain the tools that I needed to become a great Career Coach.
So, what should you take from this? Your first job after graduating is a key that will unlock the doors to numerous future opportunities. Be cautious as you choose this position. Don’t compromise, because while a career change might be feasible during your first five years in an industry, it will become increasingly more challenging after that. You may earn more in the technology sector, but if your passion lies in non-profit, you may lose out on many opportunities and not feeling fulfilled by chasing the money. It might be difficult for you to pass up on good opportunities even though they just don’t fit your goals, but know that with patience and a passion for what you want to do, you will exit the job search with a position that you can truly enjoy.