graduate jobs

August 2, 2016, by Carla

Taking the Direct Route into a Graduate Job

By Toby Cope, BArch Hons Architecture, graduated 2015

Having worked part time all through my studies in a marketing role, when it came to thinking about what my first job after university would be, I made the decision that a graduate scheme was not for me.

Finding the right mix

I was really keen to find a graduate job that would allow me to pursue a career in marketing while still making use of my architecture degree. I was also keen to find a role that would challenge me and give me a lot of responsibility. My reservation about a graduate scheme was, rightly or wrongly, that it wouldn’t offer me as much opportunity for that as going straight into a job would.

A tip-off from Careers

A few months before I was due to graduate, I started looking at what kind of roles were out there. I wouldn’t say I was actively looking; I was just more receptive to things that came my way. Someone in the Careers team mentioned a job advert to me that they’d seen for a marketing manager at an architecture practice, Stockwool, in London.

From CV to interview in a flash

I thought about it for a little while because it felt like quite a bit jump from the part-time role I had at the time, and a big first job out of university. In the end, I went for it. I sent off a CV and portfolio and within a few hours I had a phone call asking me if I could go down to London the following week for an interview. I pushed the interview back as far as I felt was acceptable to make sure I had time to prepare and to speak to a careers adviser about what kind of questions might come up.

When the day came, it was hugely nerve-wracking. It was a long interview – well over an hour – and I was interviewed by two of the partners who run the practice. There were no layers to their recruitment process, so I wasn’t given the chance to gain some confidence before coming face-to-face with the boss, however, I felt it went as well as it could have. A few days after, a London number flashed up on my phone and I remember my heart skipping a beat – I’d got the job!

… and to agreeing a start date

A month later, I was sat at my desk in my new east London office and it was just the most exciting time. The learning curve was steep. There was a lot of learning on the job and self-teaching, as people at all levels across the company were looking to me to make decisions and get things done from day one.

A year on

I can honestly say I love how diverse the role is. Working for an small company means I get to take the reins across the full marketing mix and from the strategic level right down to how to make our latest news headline fit into 140 characters for a tweet.

Continuing to learn and develop

In terms of my professional development, I have had to seek out opportunities myself, which I think is a marked difference from what you would get on a graduate scheme. That said, I am given a yearly personal allowance to spend on workshops, seminars and industry events that I think will be beneficial to my development. It’s great because it means I can pick and choose what is most relevant and interesting to me.

My three pieces of advice

If you’re looking to go straight into a graduate job, my advice would be:

  1. Keep your eyes peeled: individual roles are often not as widely advertised as the big graduate schemes, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for them. Knowing where to look is also really important – my job was advertised on Dezeen because it was within a design-related industry, so it’s a good idea to find an online jobs board that fits the area you want to work in.
  2. Aim high – you could be surprised: it doesn’t matter if you can’t do absolutely everything on the job description – it’s rare an employer will find a candidate who ticks every single box. If there is something in the job specification that you haven’t done, research as much about it as possible and try to relate any experience you do have to it, but don’t let it put you off applying.
  3. Throw yourself into it: when you get the job, don’t be under any illusions about the scale of the task ahead. It’s unlikely you’ll have a long cushy induction as you’ll be expected to deliver from day one. Put yourself out there, be strong, learn when to say no, and above all, remember that you wouldn’t have got the job if your new employer didn’t believe you could do it.

If you would like to talk about finding a graduate role and tailoring your application, book an appointment with a careers adviser.

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