So let me guess; you’re in your third, maybe fourth year of your degree. The end is in sight. It’s exciting because soon enough you’ll never have to write essay or sit exam ever again. It’s also terrifying because now you have to face the real world, which means getting a job.
Entering the job market in the current economy is a daunting prospect. For years now I’ve heard nightmare stories from recent graduates who’ve taken a year (or maybe two) to get a low level entry job. Fierce competition means that you need a decorated resume to set yourself apart from the thousands of other uni students in your graduating year.
Getting a grad job seems like is the obvious solution. Grad job= experience+ potential job, right? Well yes, sometimes. But not always.
Here are some of the pros and cons of getting a grad job.
1. Grad jobs may lead to a real job
Yes, you may come out of your grad job with a job offer after you graduate. For many, this is the ideal situation result of a grad job- a secure future and a clear beginning to your career.
However, you better be prepared to work for it. Many companies will only employ grads that have shown that they are prepared to go above and beyond. And remember, it’s unlikely that you will be the only one gunning for one of these positions.
2. Actual experience
A grad job will undoubtedly provide you with the hands on experience you simply don’t get by sitting in a lecture theatre. You’ll have the chance to put your theoretical experience to use and develop your practical skills.
Additionally you will also get some experience working in a professional environment. This may not sound as significant as ‘technical experience’, but managing professional relationships is one of the more thorny areas of any workplace- learn to navigate this as early as possible.
3. You can see if you like the career you are planning to go into
A grad job can give you the chance to test out if you really like the career you are going into. If you’re lucky you might find that your grad job affirms all the hard work you put into to getting your qualification. It may also open up other sectors of your profession that you’ve never even considered.
4. Money, Money, Money
Gotta make that paper.
If your grad job pays, that’s huge bonus. Although, it may not pay that much!
1. No job guarantee
Unfortunately, not every grad job leads to a full time position unfortunately. As mentioned above, these positions are often very competitive and you might lose out to someone who sucked-up to the boss in just the right way.
This will undoubtedly be frustrating, but you still have a huge advantage over others in your graduating year. Most will graduate with no practical experience whatsoever and when you go out for other jobs- that will work in your favour.
2. You might find yourself stuck in a sector you don’t really want to work in
Students will often take any grad job they get offered, even if it is not related to their area of interest. This is a double-edged sword, on one hand it’s experience, on the other it might be the wrong sort of experience.
Employers will generally seek out whomever is best equipped for the specific job they are employing. Therefore if your grad job experience is dissimilar from the sector you seek to work in, it may count for very little or nothing at all.
3. You’re starting at the bottom
Everyone starts somewhere.
You may find yourself doing tasks that irritate or annoy you. But don’t worry, you’re not the only one saying “I spent five years at uni just so that I could get someone’s coffee?”
I’ve had a number of friends or acquaintances who have quit their grad jobs because they expected more from them. In one case a friend of a friend got a position working as a journalist and unsurprisingly she didn’t exactly find herself writing headline news right away. Her work mostly comprised of public announcement notices about construction projects and roadworks-- not quite the exciting investigative journalism of depicted in Spotlight or The Newsroom. But it was a start, and that is the point of a grad job.
You may be doing these menial tasks now, but working you way up the corporate ladder is how successful careers start. So stick with it, you won’t be at the bottom forever.
4. Maybe this isn’t the career path that you want.
A grad job may result in one inevitable conclusion; this career path isn’t for you. And you know what? That’s totally fine!!!!! There are other ways to start a career. Volunteering is one, or you might like to get involved in a start-up where you feel like you can contribute more to the direction of an organisation. Careers have been forged in all sorts of ways and the best way is the one that suits you.
So are grad jobs for you?
Grad jobs will undoubtedly give you a foundation on which to build your career, and in a competitive job market this could be extremely valuable. However, it’s just one option in a wide variety of options available to graduates. So! If you want it, go for it and work as hard as you can. If not, you’d be better off finding an option that works for you.