Choosing what steps to take after college is a big decision all graduates have to make. Despite leaving college with a qualification, it is quite common for graduates to find careers in industries not relevant to the degree they studied. What is really important is that they find themselves in a role they enjoy and in a suitable workplace. Below are some of the options available.
A graduate trainee programme can be a valuable stepping stone into a senior management position. Companies put programmes in place so that graduates can ease into the world of work and through training, develop the necessary skills needed to excel in their chosen career. Many of the large organisations that recruit graduates annually have graduate traineeships in place.
Benefits of undertaking a graduate programme include:
Graduates often view employment in small and medium enterprises as second choice to big organisations. What graduates don't know is that job satisfaction can be much higher in smaller companies. Why? Because graduates are usually given more responsibility, flexibility to get involved in a variety of functions and the opportunity to work on their own initiative. In an SME graduates are not a small fish in a big pond so if you perform well you will be noticed.
However some points to note are that there may notbe any training schemes you will be learning "on the job" and the pay and benefits will more than likely be less than in the larger organisations.
To be employed by SMEs graduates should be quick learners, proactive and flexible. As well as this SME work environments are often fast paced because of growth rate and change, as such graduates choosing this route need to work well under pressure.
Many students put off choosing a career path until their final year of study or until after they graduate, however it can be beneficial to gain experience in an industry or role you may be considering working in whilst still in college. Some colleges/universities offer work placements as part of the course's curriculum.
Other options available to students are:
The benefits of undertaking any of the above work experience options include:
The best way to find out about the opportunities available to you is to talk to your college's careers advice staff. Contacting organisations directly can also prove successful and demonstrates your commitment and enthusiasm to the employer.
Volunteering covers all unpaid work which is undertaken for the benefit of others. Volunteers are generally very passionate, motivated people and are active in almost all aspects of society. There are a lot of opportunities for students seeking experience in a certain industry or field to volunteer both in Ireland and abroad and can involve anything from planting a new flower bed in an old folks home, to raising awareness about homelessness, to teaching in an orphanage in Africa.
Employers will look favourably on evidence of volunteering in a C.V. They are aware of the drive, commitment, energy and passion that is required of a volunteer and would hope that this could be transferred to a role within their business.
Volunteering also helps develop certain skills in an individual such as problem solving, decision making, prioritising, communication skills and teamwork. Students may discover skills they never knew they had which might aid their choice of career.
The nature of volunteering means that the person themselves determines their level of commitment to the cause, meaning that volunteering stints can be short, medium or indeed long term.
Graduates looking to work in Non Government Organisations (NGO's) or Non Profit Organisations or indeed for bodies such as the United Nations, Unicef, Goal or Trocaire should note that substantial volunteering experience is required to achieve a position in any of these organisations.
Currently, graduates deciding which job/company to apply for will consider size, location, salary and benefits and job security as the most important boxes that require ticking. However, for an increasing number of graduates, the ethical standards of a company are becoming significant.
Corporate and social responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly important in businesses of all sizes. Small businesses may allow some volunteers to collect money for charity on their premises or indeed larger businesses may fund local community projects. The degree to which a company 'gives back' to its community can be an important factor in the choice of the graduate. It is fairly easy to find out which companies take their CSR seriously just do some research via their websites.