From Castle Rushen to Corona.. **Catchy eh**. For the record, I don’t think there’s a clear answer to land that perfect graduate job (sorry for the click-bait). This is a statement which is un-apologetically untrue as there is no answer. However, if you’re an un-apologetically ambitious Manxie and you want to launch into a graduate career, this set of c.1000 words might be helpful.
You may have heard the phrases “that’s not possible” or “you can’t achieve that” on the Island growing up. It’s unequivocally untrue: what other town, city, or country has a roster of talent including….
A Tour de France champion (Mark Cavendish MBE), Olympic Medallists (Peter Kennaugh MBE, among others), a professional rugby player (Sorry for the shout out Phil Cringle) , professional footballers, professional golfers, Commonwealth Games Medal winners, World Championship winning motorsport racers, world class actress’ (inc. Samantha Barks who starred in Les Mis’ – you can’t really top this), a Gibson Top 10 Blues Guitarist of all time ( Yep you guessed it, Davy Knowles) – sitting next to John Mayer and Jack White. Not to mention the abundance of elite Water Sports athletes, triathletes, and Elite Amateur sports women and men who all came from IoM Schools.
…. Nowhere else can compare, so if anyone says, “that’s not possible” or “stop dreaming”, tell them you’re not dreaming, it’s been done before, so you can achieve it.
Now to land that graduate job..
Email, message, email some more, be polite, be charming, and ask for anything. ‘Don’t ask, don’t get’ is so true for many internships. Asking people in the right way is uber important. If you’re passionate and incredibly interested in learning, people respond positively, and they will help you.
Internships, work experience, Student Ambassador roles, University volunteering openings allow you to see past University life and explore what’s available and possible when you graduate. Some might be good, some might be energetic & exuberant, and some may make you think “how is this helping me” but you should realise entry-level openings are for you to explore, learn and develop (..however you interpret this..), not necessarily to land on the golden goose and set you up for life.
I completed multiple unpaid internships, unpaid student roles, but I always had the hunch it would give me one more step on the ladder to reaching a top-tier graduate job. I wouldn’t have been able to land a graduate job at Corona where my graduate-peers were among the most ambitious & motivated people I’ve ever met without previous experience. It’s a competitive world out there.
Ask for an opportunity
Everyone knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who…. an old coach.. a music teacher.. a neighbour.. a friend’s parent.. especially on the Island. Without my first opportunity on the Island I wouldn’t have had any of my following experiences including working at Corona, and I know this with 100% certainty as one opportunity provided me with events and experiences which led onto the next, which led onto the next, which led onto…
You will know someone who works on Athol Street or in Spring Valley, a lawyer, an accountant, a builder who knows an architect, ask them for help and take any entry-level experience you can grab.
Prove you can do stuff
Perhaps the best thing about Uni is the time you get to just do whatever you want to do, I have friends who during the mid-term holidays travelled endlessly, from the cliché Thailand, to Fiji. I have friends who worked on their ideas, entrepreneurial projects and small-stage businesses.
At Uni I created a symposium to help students; the best thing about creating an idea at University is the support you can get to launch anything you want, especially if it positively impacts the campus and helps people. If you look you’ll find scholarships, bursary’s, grants and prizes all geared towards you doing something amazing. Universities want their students to succeed and so utilise everything around you.
Putting your neck on the line with an idea you truly believe in, and then going out and proving it works is undeniably one of the hyper-learning curves you can go through. Showing you can do stuff proves to people your effectiveness (if things don’t work, it’s a learning curve).
If you think I mean your degree, I’m sorry, graduate recruiters can pick from 300,000 students in the UK a year with a degree. I mean professional qualifications.
The point of getting ahead of other graduates and starting professional qualifications early is that you’ll put yourself further up the not-so-mythical pile of the “hire this person” list of undergrads.
If you want to launch into a career in finance, study a financial qualification such as the CFA Institute’s IMC during University. If you want to go into marketing, study a Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification. Management? The Chartered Management Institute’s entry level quals’. There’s many, but work out the truly valuable one’s and get cracking. If you’re thinking “Most students don’t do this” then you’re right, but if you want to secure a job a world leading company, you should know that there’s plenty of other motivated students already getting ahead.
If you can study abroad, or take a year in industry, do it! You’ll realise it’s the most important aspect of your entire degree. People around me who took off to do a year in industry secured their graduate jobs with them. People who study abroad develop cultural sensitivities which are perhaps the most valuable soft-skills anyone can’t teach you.
Studying abroad in Hong Kong was the single most important, intellectually invigorating, and influential experience of my 4 years at University. The experience taught me about a country, a politic, and side of humanity I wouldn’t have learned without taking the opportunity in front of me to study abroad.
Securing that Graduate Job
I went to University through clearing, I received BCC in my A-levels with (if you must know) a D in AS-level Physics.
Not to worry, therefore I learnt to ask, and email, and ask again for opportunities. By the time it came to apply for a graduate job, in my final interview for Corona (who valued real-life “get up and go” drive) I was able to say I successfully Founded and launched a career development symposium and completed 6 internships in 5 different industries, meaning that I knew what company and what industry I wanted to work in, and that I’d proven I can do stuff off my own back.
Incidentally, all the internships I completed taught me which industries I didn’t want to join, not help me realise which industry I wanted to join. There’s no right way, but seeking as much experience as possible expanded my horizons and helped me land that job as an ambitious grad.
“What if I don’t know what I want to do?” Start by doing something and you’ll figure it out. The things you do which you don’t like will help you understand what you want to do next, and at some point, you’re more than likely to stumble on something you’re super passionate about and want to move at warp-speed to make things happen.