25 March 2015

Life after University and Job Hunting

Last year I put myself forward to write about my job hunting and post-university life when it comes to new opportunities and all that jazz. After sending this off to a new blog I heard nothing back and don't think it was posted and didn't want it to go to waste so thought I'd tweak it a bit then share it with you guys.

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I'm Fiona and I'm based in Newcastle upon Tyne, North East. I stayed in my local area when I went to Northumbria University to study Fine Art and I will probably stay here my whole life because I love my city.

I pretty much went straight from sixth form to university (although I did do one extra year of A2 resits). I wouldn't say I was your typical student - if going out and getting drunk is the stereotypical lifestyle of a student then I am the complete opposite of that. If I had to describe myself in one word it would be easiest to say "nerd" - I love gaming, television and basically anything that involves looking at a screen for extended periods of time. You could go as far to say I'm a bit antisocial but I'd retaliate by saying I'm just an introvert. Games, TV and Film are just some of my hobbies and passions; I also enjoy travelling and seeing new places. I dream of visiting every country in the world one day. I am all about having fun and making people happy, I would even go as far to say I'm a funny person - which made me try out stand up comedy and I can confirm that I can make a room of people laugh. With friends and family I'm an easy going, laid back individual but once I'm in the workplace I kick it up a notch and work hard to get the job done. I've always been described as mature for my age and I've always lived up to that being the oldest sibling, taking on babysitting roles from a young age. I've been in employment since I turned 16 with only brief spells of unemployment so I've got a lot of experience already - finding a graduate job should be easy right? Wrong. It's proved to be a more difficult task than expected.

At the minute, finding my "career" is a scary prospect because that is the thing I will do every day for the rest of my life and I don't know what I want to do with my life yet, sure I have some ideas but they change every week and a lifelong commitment terrifies me right now. Currently, I have a low hour contract at a job I love but I want a full time job I can stick at for a few years to earn some serious money and get more experience in roles I've not had the chance to experience yet. Admin, Cafe assistants, Retail; you name it, I've probably already applied for it. Generally, it's a case of finding a job that is permanent with a lot of hours contracted within the North East - I'm lucky that I own a car so can apply for jobs that are a bit further afield but then it's a question of whether I can handle the commute or not and I won't really find that out until I know where will employ me! 

I'm hoping to stand out by all the extra activities I did outside of university - you know when people kept persuading you to do volunteer work in order to stand out? I really hope that works and have volunteered since 2010 accumulating 80+ hours of voluntary work. I've taken on many different volunteer roles within my local community, especially the Arts since I want to go down a creative path. Not to mention activities that were part of my course that we're exciting and, although they felt normal to me, do make me stand out quite a bit - I have done placements, been part of exhibitions and even did a commissioned painting which all sound impressive when at the time I was stumbling through them not 100% what was going on. Looking back and reflecting on these experiences, I can see what I've learnt and a lot of these skills are adaptable so can be a good talking point in job applications and interviews.

Last year, when I was beginning the job hunting process I'd applied to so many jobs in various industries. I'd mainly used big database type websites (Reed, Indeed, CV library) which can be a great way to get your CV out there with one click applications. Always make sure to check your CV before going on a one click job binge because you may end up applying for an Editor position or saying you pay close attention to detail only to realise later there is a typo on your CV. I learnt that the hard way! A lot of companies have their own application forms but I feel it is still very important to have an updated CV prepared just in case. Even better, you will probably be able to use some elements of your CV in these applications making the time to complete the process a little shorter. 

Although the big database type sites are a great resource it is not the only way to look for jobs. As well as the sites I mentioned above, it's still useful to go specifically to company sites for places you want to work and checking their vacancies regularly - especially if you are passionate about their product or work ethic. More popular places (especially when thinking about retail) generally keep the vacancies on their own website and don't need a third party to advertise vacancies. Don't forget government websites and big organisations like the NHS either - on the surface you may think it's just for a specific job type but there are various roles within, maybe some that are new and exciting that you'd not thought about before.

I have been successful in a few applications resulting in interviews and second interviews. One of which was in Recruitment (a completely new area to me) and the only reason I didn't get the job was because someone else had more sales experience than me but I only knew that when asking for feedback - don't be afraid to ask for feedback especially if you got to later interview stages, how else will you be able to improve if you don't know what went wrong? I am at the point where I feel a lot of companies would rather take on people who have the knowledge and experience already instead of training us newbies up which is why I probably won't try for this type of role again until I get more experience (but how am I supposed to get it if they won't give me the chance, right?) I feel like I'll have to go in to an entry level type job and work my way up. Another job I've applied for was a temporary retail job I was returning too (the exact same job) but still didn't get. It is super competitive out there so you really have to give 110% in interviews or trial shifts but don't get disheartened if you don't get the job, it isn't the worst thing in the world! 

My current, low contract hour job I actually heard about through Twitter and it began as a temporary Christmas role. It developed into a longer temporary position but here I am still. Christmas positions can begin appearing as early as August. It's not good going to somewhere in December and asking for a job, you need to start looking August/September. Of all my temporary Christmas jobs, I started in LUSH and Waterstones in September and for River Island it was November but the application process for those were carried out the month beforehand. Christmas positions suck because you might not get kept on and it will always be busy (not to mention minimum wage or just above that) but it's a good place to start.

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That is more or less everything I provided for my guest post but I thought I'd add some extra gems of knowledge and update it a little. Good luck to everyone out there looking for jobs! Do not forget to check for jobs via Twitter and Facebook and don't give up. It is insufferable looking for jobs (I loathed my month on jobseekers) but something will eventually turn up.

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8 comments:

  1. Ah good luck in your job hunt - I was at a conference yesterday and there was a 'careers hour'. They said that 85% of jobs aren't advertised! Yikes!

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    1. Well that's a high percentage! I'm not looking too much at the minute, I'm saving up because I need (well, would prefer) to do my masters first but it's so expensive. I don't know, trying to not panic about being a grown up yet haha :)

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  2. Awwwwwww best of lucky lovely! I'd definitely say it's sensible to explore every avenue and try and pick something you love. I never knew what I wanted to do and have been in the same office type job for 14 years now, I don't really love it and sometimes it frustrates me! I hope you find something really amazing that you love x

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    1. Thank you so much ^^ I hope so too, I think I had an epiphany where I realised that it won't happen overnight so I can at least relax a little

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  3. Such a great post! I'm graduating in May with a degree in general studies, and my quest for my full degree is only partly over (transfer student for an English degree). It's interesting and refreshing to read posts that are realistic and hopeful about the struggles of getting a job during/after school. Thanks for sharing and good luck on your job hunt!

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    1. Thank you :) this comment is so lovely! I fear there is currently a lot of pressure to finish university and get the dream job straight away when that probably won't happen. Just got to plod along ^^

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  4. Lovely post. I really hate it when you have to fill in a companies own form! What exactly is fine/visual arts? x

    Amy at Amy & More

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    1. The companies forms are a nightmare because they are SO LONG haha :) I did Fine Art, it was a lot of contemporary art, having exhibitions in galleries and basically training us up to be the next batch of artists. I've never wanted to be an artist which is why I didn't enjoy my course that much

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