Recently graduated? Shared it on LinkedIn? Read on for career advice from successful professionals.

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

You’ve probably posted your graduation story on LinkedIn by now, sharing all the trials and tribulations you went through to finally attain your university degree. Some of you are tired of all the likes and comments you’ve received whilst a batch of you are sitting on 99 likes waiting for one more to acquire the prestige century of LinkedIn likes. Maybe a smaller proportion of you reading this asking yourself what’s LinkedIn?

Sharing your university story is a great way to market yourself and establish your presence in a personal yet legitimate way. Whilst impactful, it’s crucial that recent graduates are given an insight into the realities of different career paths post-graduation. This applies to those who have ‘got it all figured out’ or those still in search for a definitive path of what they plan to do post-graduation. This post is an informative resource for those at either ends of these extremes providing experiences from graduates on difficult walks of life.

Damola, Technology Associate - Goldman Sachs

Damola graduated from University of Birmingham in 2014 with a degree in Biochemistry and joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst in Equity Derivatives the following month. Despite the popular belief that you need to have a Finance or Economics degree in order to make it in Investment Banking - Damola’s experiences show that this isn’t the case for a vast number of roles. She highlights that some of the important traits that banks are looking for are analytical skills, having a great attention to detail and being able to think critically and relate your university degree to any other valuable skills that the organisation requires. Here are Damola’s top five tips for those starting a graduate scheme or aiming to pursuing a graduate career in the near future:

1. “Even if your first job is not what you really want to do, give it your all and work hard to become a subject matter expert. This builds your reputation within the firm, broadens the network of people willing to help you get internal job moves and makes you more marketable for external roles in other firms in ways that may not seem obvious to you at the time.”

2. “Don’t be discouraged by how much you have to learn or how far away you might feel from being a subject matter expert. Channel that insecurity/anxiety into curiosity, ask questions, set up 1:1 meetings to understand things better, put your hand up to help with things that make you feel a little bit out of your depth (with the right support).”

3. “Make friends. Workplaces are made up of other human beings with lives, interests and quirks outside of their work personalities. Making friends with colleagues makes the work more enjoyable, can help you get work done more easily with a broad network of people willing to do you a favour and also it’s nice to have people to go for lunch and drinks with after work when you actually enjoy their company!”

4. “Get involved in your wider team’s social / networking / diversity initiatives. This is a great way to get to know senior people as a junior person with limited technical knowledge. They will remember your name if they know you organised a well-structured and fun night out or furthered the diversity agenda that is key for all senior leadership at any firm at the moment.”

5. “Enjoy the fact that you now have the funds to do more of the things you’ve always wanted to do! For me that was travel – I visited something like 10 countries in my first year of work. For others it might be splurge purchases – that bag, or watch you’ve always wanted (keep it in moderation), for others it might be key strategic investments i.e. buying a house, investing in funds, saving enough for a start-up. Work to live and live the best you can while developing your career. That’s what makes it feel worth it!”

Hermine, Graduate Project Manager - Computacentre

Hermine graduated in politics from the university of Essex and, since then she worked as a marketing consultant, business development executive and club director. Hermine’s experiences show that being successful doesn’t come from settling for any role but by exploring different positions to find the one that you can excel at and enjoy. Here are Hermine’s five golden nuggets of wisdom:

1. “Be open minded, willing to learn and don't set limits on yourself, 'if something can be learnt, I can learn it', a wonderful quote from Keith Dube and something to apply in all areas of your career (and personal life!). Try things/activities/opportunities that you would never have perhaps thought of doing.”

2. “Network network network! use LinkedIn and post regularly. Get your face out there for the right reasons. Join communities at your company too if you can and make a memorable impact”

3. “People will be jealous of you since you are in a privileged position. Be mindful and sensitive of how you speak about your role but keep shining at the same time.”

4. “Commercial awareness is vital. Read up on your industry, stay up to date with trends, know your company’s share price etc. Having this knowledge will help you in your work and make you feel more confident in your understanding of your industry. Finimize is a good resource to stay aware of current economic and financial affairs."

5. “Get a mentor and a buddy. Mentor should be someone more senior with a wealth of experience and buddy should be someone who is younger in their career that you can have casual chats with.”

Joyce, Business Owner and Head Chef - Biloko

Joyce graduated with a degree in Business in 2013. She owns the successful Biloko Pop-Up which has appeared in Old Street and Essex as well as the Biloko Supper club which has been hosted in various Shoreditch venues.

‘I’ve always been motivated to have my own business. I feel like the only reason I still do it, is because of my passion because it is very difficult financially and mentally when you first start out. The thing that keeps me and pushes me is my passion in my business. I’ve even had to do side jobs to fund my dreams and business. This path is really for those truly motivated and can actually see the end goal.”

For those who may have graduated and have already started their own business or plan to start their own business – here are some key shards of wisdom that Joyce shares:

1. "Importance of online presence - Always upload even when the business isn’t running because customers like to see engagement. This will reflect positively on you as it shows you are passionate about your business."

2. "Branding - keep it simple and memorable. Try to always brand everything. You never know who is going to see your product or recommend your services. Word of mouth is a key method of promotion and branding makes it easier for people to spread the word about your business."

3. "Do not give up as you will often get more no’s than yes. Just be more strategic in your approach. The key take is that you see the opportunities in situations that can seem like closed doors."

4. "Keep up to date with all paperwork or else you will not see the real progress of your business. This relates to the financial statements of your business and ensuring that they are accurate so that you can spot key areas of developments and opportunities in some cases."

5. "Take rest and restart whenever you feel it’s necessary. Business can get very hard and depressing. Take care of yourself mentally and physically."

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