Starting out in the ‘real world’ after graduating can seem daunting, and finding (and securing) that perfect job, like an impossible task. We’ve spoken to Cardiff alumni who hit the ground running in carving out their career paths as recent graduates. Here are their top tips for getting your foot in the door…
Imogen Carter (BSc 2018)
Imogen is a fully qualified Chartered Accountant, having trained at KPMG for three years on the graduate scheme. She now works as a Senior Finance Analyst at ASOS within the Returns Team. The leap from audit and financial accounting to commercial finance was inspired by her placement year at Cardiff University, where she spent time as a Finance Intern at the Walt Disney Company and loved it!
Apply apply apply!
Job applications can be incredibly tedious and time consuming (believe me I know). However, if you take time to put effort into each one, making sure you curate it specifically for each role/company, you will find your time has not been wasted! In my experience, a rushed and impersonal application always ended up in rejection whereas the ones I took care over always got me through to the next stage. Even if you’re unsuccessful further down the line, you’re gaining valuable experience by progressing through various stages of different application processes which will ultimately help you succeed.
Recruiters are your new best friends.
They might clog up your LinkedIn inbox, but without them I wouldn’t be at ASOS. They work hard to make sure they are finding jobs suited to showcase your skills as well as searching to find you a job you’ll love. If they don’t reach out to you initially, make sure you make every effort to connect with them. But be ruthless! If they send you a job specification you don’t like then tell them! It helps you filter out unsuitable roles and will help you find your perfect job quicker.
Got a question for Imogen? You can connect on Cardiff Connected.
Nicole Jay (BA 2018, MA 2022)
Nicole is a Digital Account Executive at Helpful Digital PR agency, managing communications and crisis training for private and public organisations worldwide. Previously, she studied an MA in International Public Relations and BA in French and German.
Don’t feel like you’re falling behind
Graduation can seem like it’s a race to see who can get the best job first. If you already know what you want to do, that’s great! But it’s ok if you don’t, too. After I finished my BA, I tried a variety of different roles before I discovered that PR was something I enjoyed and decided to begin my career in professional communications. Taking the time to try different things, find out what you’re passionate about, and what kind of environment is a good fit for you is so important.
As nerve-wracking as it is to reach out, it really is about who you know, and most people are more than willing to help! I started my MA in PR and Communications with no previous experience and found LinkedIn so useful in building connections in the industry and asking people already in professional roles how they got started. One PR practitioner I spoke to helped me to rewrite my CV to suit the type of role I wanted work in, and ran through interview questions with me, which helped me along so much to the role I’m in today.
Got a question for Nicole? You can connect on Cardiff Connected. Our alumni networking platform also lets you find alumni working in your industry or dream organisation so you can ask questions, request introductions, or see if they’d offer mentoring.
Marielle Wilkinson (BA 2017, MA 2018)
Marielle is an Assistant Producer currently working on a series for National Geographic. She consolidates stories filmed around the world and oversees productions through from start to finish. Prior to this, she has worked as a Researcher and Translator for the BBC, Netflix and the Olympics’ official YouTube channel.
Seek out experiences in your desired industry
Something that really helped me was attending as many media-related masterclasses that I could. Experienced freelancers also attend these, and you can also meet a few veterans in your industry. Masterclasses are great means of communicative access to industry professionals who are there and happy to answer your questions. Take advantage of them! Some great media organisations in Cardiff who organise these are BAFTA Cymru, Creative Cardiff, and ScreenSkills.
Don’t know how to do something? Ask! Don’t pretend! Being earnest and showing willingness to learn will make you stand out to your employer, who will help you develop in your career. If you don’t ask, you won’t get!
The Cardiff University community are a helpful bunch, here to help you get ahead in your chosen career. You can browse through their advice and top tips on a wide range of business topics in our ‘Bossing It’ series.