I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now
If you’ve lived the life of a higher-ed student then you’ll be familiar with the scenario. For maybe three or four years, you’ve had a lot on your plate: multiple essay deadlines, all-nighters, lab tests, exams etc. After a lot of sleep deprivation, you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, more commonly known as graduation day. The day is here—the day where you ride into the sunset with your formal qualification, and embark on an amazing new journey.
After graduating with a Degree in Employment Relations and Organisational Studies, I was eager to embark on my career journey. I clearly remember walking past a Madison Recruitment car and thinking “I will work there one day”, but I had no clear plan of how and what I needed to do to get there. Looking back, I can’t help but giggle. I was living in a bubble; I had so many dreams, aspirations and goals for myself, much of which changed as I progressed in my career, as I learned more about myself, the impact I wanted to make and the company that would help support my vision. The road was not always clear, but I am grateful for each learning experience because they shaped me into the person I am today. Although, I can’t help but think “I wish I knew then what I know now’. I would have saved myself a lot of heartache and worry. I’m hoping that perhaps my experiences might help some of you new graduates or others looking to enter the workforce.
Don’t wait for an opportunity, create it!
Just because you have not landed your dream job yet— it does not mean that you will never get to that point. Your career is a path, a path you have begun to pave for yourself. Try to take it one step at a time. Put in place some short term goals over 12 to 24 months, which will contribute to your long term objective. Look at your current role; are there any opportunities available that will help you get closer to the role want? Could you take a secondment? Are there buddying opportunities in other areas of the business?
After graduating I began my job search, and I realised that that with my degree, I could take multiple paths but I was unsure which path I wanted to take. Instead, I focused on building my skill-set until I completely identified how I wanted to use both my theoretical and practical knowledge. Then, I was presented with an opportunity in the contact centre space. Although this first role wasn’t related to my qualification, I took the opportunity as I naturally liked talking to people and helping individuals. I liked that the role would be mentally stimulating, and that I would be working for a reputable company in the financial sector.
It was a bit of a lucky break. I was surrounded by great leaders who encouraged me to pursue my short term goals, and helped me to identify my strengths. At that point knew that I wanted more exposure to the human resources and learning and development parts of the business. Because of that, I was very open and honest with my managers about my long term goals, and my interest in taking on more responsibilities. My managers were supportive, and put me in touch with people who I could potentially buddy with and work with. In conjunction with my core job responsibilities, I was fortunate to be able to get involved in a few projects and tasks which I put my hand up for, those helped me to build my skills in the areas I knew I wanted to pursue in the future.
A role in the contact centre space was not a part of my initial plan but in hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I made. It challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and discover new interests and passions on the career front.
Look beyond the job title
Consider each and every role you undertake as an opportunity to add to your universal skillset. The employment market is continuously changing and developing. Being good at your job is great but what will be really beneficial is a solid and varied skillset. The more skills you have, the more sought after you will be by prospective employers.
You may already have a rough idea of the types of roles you would like to have, but if getting to that point seems challenging, you may need to address the situation in another way. Start by looking at a few of those desired roles, and analysing what the day to day responsibilities are and the skills that are needed in order to be successful. Next, focus on identifying the ways in which you can acquire those skills. It may come down to working in a more junior position, taking a specific short online course, doing volunteer work etc. You want to find ways to bridge the gap between your dream role and your current situation. Remember, don’t close yourself off to learning and developing your knowledge further just because you have recently obtained a formal qualification. Learning is a lifelong process. The job market is constantly evolving, so stay ahead of the game; be proactive and enhance your skillset; this will differentiate your application from others who have the same qualifications or basic experience as yourself.
Look beyond your degree
I know that a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into your obtaining your degree. Then you may have then entered the workforce and discovered a new passion which has almost nothing to do with your degree. You know what— that is ok!
Your qualifications are a testament to all your hard work, success and theoretical expertise gained over a couple of years, but don’t let this limit opportunities that may arise of outside of what you initially deemed as the “right” path to take.
When I graduated, I stepped into a role which had nothing to do with what I had studied, but it was probably the best decision for me at that point of time in my life. I was an opportunist, when I was presented with a chance to enrich my learning experience, no matter how big or small, I took it, simply because it added another stone to the path that I was paving for myself. In the end, this led me to my ideal role, and company.
My main tips here is be to identify companies that you think you would like to work for. Do research, look at the structure and opportunities that could potentially be on offer, and work out how these align with your motivations and values.
Believe in yourself, and your capabilities.
Only you can push yourself to where you want to be—remember there is no single, predetermined path that you must follow. Your qualification is like a key that can unlock doors for you, some doors you may not have known existed until you open your mind up to the possibilities. Although I enjoyed my previous jobs, I was filled with self-doubt about my career and whether I was doing the ‘right’ thing by going “off path”. I wish I knew then that every experience has value. We don’t need to hurry to our imagined end goal, better yet, we need to enjoy the journey and each learning experience that comes from it. I truly believe your passion and sheer determination will guide you to where you need to be.
I am now a Candidate Manager at Madison, where I specialise in recruiting high volume roles in the contact centre space. The path I took to get here was not a direct one, but the skills I acquired along the way are so useful, and now help me to excel in my role, and make a positive impact in the lives of others.