Photo: Flickr / Kathryn Decker

Worrying and Work Experience: How to Get a Job

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Jasmine Johnson and Brenda Wong give a fresher’s and a finalist’s views on how to use your time at university to get a job.

All hopes for the glory
Jasmine Johnson

For many students, university is an opportunity, not only to branch out, but to take a leap of faith with the hope that at some point during their three or four years of study they’ll have a vague idea of what they wish to do with their future. For me, however, gaining a place at Warwick was an essential part of an elaborately (if not exhaustingly) detailed career plan.

I may be a first year, but even from the age of 16 my career goal was set – I would be the editor-in-chief of an upscale, New York-based fashion magazine, no doubt fuelled by too many viewings of The Devil Wears Prada. Over time, and following some highly rewarding experience in the industry, this dream became somewhat dispersed and reconstructed itself in the form of my current goal: to write for a variety of publications on an assortment of social and cultural issues. Having realized my ambition lies in writing not editing, the achievement of this goal is constantly at the forefront of my mind.

The publishing industry is highly competitive and from what I’ve learned, it’s essential to stand out from the competition. So whether this requires starting early and networking on LinkedIn, preening my online portfolio to perfection, spending every summer until graduation taking up internship placements, or even just being conscious about what I share on social media sites, I am more than ready to do whatever’s necessary to get me to the top of my game.

Whilst this all might seem quite extreme, I’m sure it will pay off for me in the long run. Having a career is not only about earning a decent, dependable salary; it’s the opportunity to do something I love on a day-to-day basis, which can only possibly lead to further rewards in life.

Singing the finalist blues
Brenda Wong

They don’t call them ‘finalist blues’ for no reason. Maybe it’s just me, but so far, my to-do list is getting bigger, my bank balance is getting smaller, and all of a sudden, everyone expects me to have some sort of ‘five-year-plan’… I don’t even know what’s happening in the next five minutes. Not to mention the intense shame of seeing friends with graduate jobs, training contracts and placements. If I see another Facebook status about someone scoring their perfect entry-level position I might kick a puppy.

I don’t know how it’s possible for some to be so settled and secure, while it seems like I am scrambling for time. I am the green-eyed monster, casting my gaze onto my fresher friends, wishing in vain for what I need most: a little more time. At this point, the biggest issue is regret. Why didn’t I attend that open day? Why didn’t I email the careers officer? Why didn’t I apply for that internship? All I can do now is trawl through MyAdvantage for the dregs of opportunities that are available to me, and hope for the best.

Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, pushing that boulder up the hill to watch it fall back down again. I’m swamped with exec roles and part-time unpaid jobs in order to bulk up my ‘CV’ and, honestly, I can’t help but feel that my efforts are hollow. I can’t even find a job that suits me, let alone think about having a ‘career’. I used to have dreams of crazy, niche positions like archaeologist, silent film actress; I even wanted to be a lawyer at one point (doing a law degree swiftly put me off that notion!). Now? I find myself completely at a loss. If someone asked me what I want to be after I graduate, I would answer, “not poor”.

I am ‘The Ghost of Freshers Past’. Let this be a cautionary tale to anyone who is still milling about; time waits for no man, let alone a very confused, stressed-out final-year law student. Start now. Try new things. Seize that CV-boosting opportunity. Follow your dreams, otherwise it may be too late!

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