A successful job search is made a whole lot easier if you have put some thought into career planning. Knowing what you want out of a job and what skills you have to offer allows you to assess opportunities more efficiently and apply for jobs in a targeted way.
Gaining experience in any workplace is valuable to your future career. Graduate employers look favourably on candidates who have already entered the workforce and developed some key transferable skills, for example communication and teamwork.
Experience in retail and hospitality is a great start, but also think how you might leverage this experience into more formal workplaces. Many organisations, including the ANU, regularly advertise casual opportunities in administration, research, accounting, para-legal roles, marketing and community outreach among others through CareerHub.
When considering your options for work after graduation, there are two main pathways into the workforce - direct entry and graduate programs.
The majority of students enter the job market directly, rather than through graduate programs. Direct entry means applying for advertised positions or finding positions through your networks or speculative applications. The timeframe for this is not fixed, but generally you apply close to the time you are available to start work.
Extend your job search to include a range of employers, for example:
- small and medium sized businesses
- not for profit organisations
- local and state government, as well as federal government
- universities and education providers.
Many organisations, along with state and federal government agencies, offer formal graduate programs. These are a great way to start your career, as they generally include formal training, mentoring and rotations within key business areas. Recruits are considered future leaders in the organisation and often provided access to opportunities not necessarily offered to others.
Recruitment generally begins early in your final year of study. Programs are advertised via the employer website, plus possibly CareerHub, campus presentations, careers fairs and graduate publications. Early entry to some programs is linked to vacation and internship opportunities.
Most employers allow applications from students for one to two years following graduation, so if you don't succeed on your first attempt, try again next year.
Many employers are using the following sites and events to advertise their graduate and vacation programs:
Academic & non-academic pathways
While much has been made of the changing labour market and of the decline in job opportunities in the academic sector both here and overseas, the key issue here is diversification. Although the certainty of academic tenure post-graduation may have gone, there is an increasing awareness of the value of the generic skills that a higher degree develops across a wide range of industries.
So while the starting point for your career choice may be in your specialist research field, it is wise to look beyond this and identify and market the broader skills that a higher degree inevitably gives. Articulating and marketing your skills in a proactive way is vital. Like all good marketing, getting a job requires that you tailor your skills to suit a certain position.
Academic & research paths
A PhD is often viewed as a passport to research opportunities, teaching positions and possible employment in the form of academic tenure. However, in recent times universities have shifted toward employing more casual and fixed-term staff. This creates a large and dynamic employment arena with many opportunities for the entrepreneurial academic who is adaptable, determined and passionate about their area of expertise
Although entry-level tutoring and research positions can have high workloads, it is crucial to find the time to get involved with collaborative projects and networking with other colleagues to enhance your career prospects. It is also vital to continue writing and publishing your research, so as to increase your competitiveness within the academic labour market.