Alumni advice: I’m starting with the man in the mirror…

… I’m asking him to change his ways…

Start early… really early.

Ok, so you aren’t quite sure what direction you want to take, but unfortunately the longer you leave it the less likely you are to make the instant transition. It isn’t enough to just have a degree; you have to add other things to your CV, and to do that you need to plan ahead. Many companies now recruit before you even finish your degree, so don’t be afraid to browse the job pages every so often and see what the world offers.

You have a degree, so what?

Think the degree is enough to get you the job you want? Think again. The degree might just be to get you into the right pile of applicants for the interview. Explore what other courses or unpaid work can benefit your CV and soak up as much as you can. Is there a professional body you can join? Many chartered institutes offer student rates and offer great advice and career paths. Are there week long courses in the summer you can do to get another qualification? Students can have lot of time on their hands, time that could be spent furthering their career before it even starts.

Stay positive

Many people leave University and end up working low-paid bottom-rung jobs, so don’t panic if you do. You have done what many people in your position haven’t done – graduated. So think about what you can offer your employer, and think about the ways you can get noticed. You started as a manual labourer, within 3 years you were head of department. It will work out for you; just don’t expect it to fall at your feet.

Use the career advice centre

Yes you do have one, and actually it is one of the best around, so go and speak to them, see what advice they can give you. You need as much help as you can help, so don’t be afraid to seek it.

Think professionally

Don’t think people will be looking at your facebook account when you apply for a job? Think again. If the way you portray yourself in the public domains is as a drunken party animal the chances of you getting a well paid job are slim. Your potential employers do not want to see a LinkedIn profile picture of you on holiday, and they certainly don’t want to type your name into Facebook and see a picture of you lying in the middle of the road on a Saturday night. Ensure your profile picture on any publically accessible account is respectable and professional. Leave the party pictures firmly locked behind security settings.

– Matthew Haines graduated from Kent in 2011 with a degree in Philosophy and is now head of inspection at a medical manufacturing company. This is what he’d tell his younger self if he got the opportunity!

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