This week my thoughts are turning to graduation and careers. With universities up and down the country erecting marquees, polishing the champagne flutes and preparing to celebrate the achievements of their students, there is an air of excitement and pride that adds a buzz to the whole university community. At the same time, for many individuals donning their gowns and mortar boards, there is anticipation, trepidation and a feeling of ‘what next?’
This term I have been volunteering as an online mentor for a final year student, providing tips and suggestions to help her in her search for a job. It has been an interesting and enjoyable experience.
My own experience of looking for a graduate job is from nearly 20 years ago: a time when there were fewer graduates; when I didn’t graduate with the added pressure of such a large debt; before LinkedIn, now an important career tool, even existed. It’s safe to say that I’m a bit out-of-date with the practicalities of how and where companies look for graduate recruits. Luckily, as a mentor, that’s not my role – the students have a careers service for that kind of support. The advice I have been able to provide has been more about the less tangible aspects of starting your career.
Such as helping my mentee to see that the path you think you want to take and the path you end up taking aren’t necessarily the same – and that’s OK. If you’re clear about what’s important to you and the impact you want to have on yourself and the world around you, then you can be open to more opportunities that deliver that end result. You don’t need to pigeon-hole yourself into a specific role and you can present yourself in such a way that others have a clearer understanding of who you are and what you’re looking for.
We’ve also been talking about how she can communicate with herself. How she can help herself to stay in a positive frame of mind, even when she’s unsure about the opportunities out there. How she can feel confident going into interviews and assessment centres. How she can feel she is doing the right thing for herself, even when those around her are taking different routes. In all these situations, we have been using NLP techniques – exercises that help you identify what is happening in a given situation where you do feel confident and transferring those qualities to other situations. I’m pleased to say that she is finding them really helpful in managing her own state at these important moments.
There are so many techniques that we can all learn to help us stay on track in our lives. How we communicate with others and ourselves is a good place to start.
Until next time