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So You're Finishing Uni

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The Transition from Part-Time Work to a Graduate Position

Let’s set the scene. You’ve spent the last three to four years suffering from sleepless nights, assignments and pesky group assessments. The good news? You’re almost there. During the final months of your degree, you’re beginning to research graduate positions in your field of study. You’re also thinking, ‘Is my degree enough to get my foot in the door of an industry I have no experience in?’

Over the course of your degree, you will have balanced a casual/part-time or even full-time position working alongside your studies. Now you might be thinking, how is my part-time sales assistant position at my local shopping centre related to my graduate career aspirations? It’s not directly, but this is where your creativity will help you create ‘your story’.

My Story? Yes, Your Story.

The most valuable thing you can take away from your current position is your experience. I’m not talking about how quickly you know how to unpack stock or deal with a broken EFTPOS machine, I’m talking about how you bring certain personality traits to the careers table that can be traversed across any position you believe you would suit. I’m talking about the valuable understanding of life lessons. In a professional context, these are soft skills and they have their own form of application.

What are Soft Skills?

Good question!  Our friend Google defines it as: ‘Personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively with other people.’ You can find more information about soft skills in our Blog post “Soft skills & your personal brand.”

Soft skills are important to your career progression because they are your story. Your experiences affect your personality, the way you interact with a team and how you handle challenging situations. It’s time to celebrate your wins and celebrate your losses and play on these soft skills.

Telling Your Story.

Once you have created your soft skills story you’ll be able to tell it. When talking about your story, whether it be in your cover letter, your SpotJobs visual CV or in an interview, remember the context it is defined in. It’s fine to relate your answer back to work or university as it is all a form of experience. You’ll find that a lot of recruiters will ask broad questions when in an interview, just like any other job. The difference here is that these types of questions are designed to be a little more intrusive to help determine your fit in the organisation. Questions asking you to describe where you’ve communicated well or worked well within a team are popular ones to look out for. These questions are broad for a reason! You need to make your story a little bit more intriguing than generic answers recruiters hear almost every day.

Where is the Best Place to Start?

Anywhere! Write down anything to start to get the brain juices flowing. Write about difficulties you’ve overcome, successes you’ve had or lessons learnt. A clever strategy would be to look at job descriptions of a position you’re interested in and understand the candidate qualities they are searching for. Once you develop a couple of communication, leadership or teamwork stories, they can be pretty malleable and you’ll be able to use the same example for similar positions.

Your soft skills and how you interact and learn from mistakes are often more important than technical skills! Both extremely important yet one will provide a spot of difference among the competitive GPA ranks. Your mindfulness of this transition is critical. 

Remember your stories are FACT, not FICTION so keep it authentic.

Good luck, graduates. 

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