I've sat and thought about it and I definitely think this is the hardest part of a young person's life. We're all made to feel like if we haven't come out of university with a place on a graduate scheme earning £25k+ then we're failures. It's one of the most pressurised and uncertain times most of us have faced in life so far and so this post is going to be some things I wish I'd known when I was putting myself through all this in my final year.
(Image via: telegraph.co.uk)
Even before coming to uni we knew we were going to end up at some university and we had a pretty good idea which one it would be. If it wasn't our firm or insurance there was clearing as a back-up. But in the jobs market there's the very real fear that it might just not happen for you; most grad jobs recruit using a certain structure and if you don't fit that structure it can be really tough.
Every year you're out of work you're expected to account for, and everything you do do has to somehow contribute to your CV. And it isn't easy to get experience when most internships expect you to live in London and work for free for weeks or months (which is tough even if you're from the capital and your parents will let you live at their place rent-free!).
I myself applied for over 40 graduate schemes in my final year at university. It wasn't an easy decision to take time out from studying to do this, but I desperately wanted something to go to after university. I was invited to only two assessment centres and was not offered a job. It was really hard not to let this affect my self-worth as a person, not to question my intelligence, skills and personality. I've always been academic and I've worked in retail whilst studying for 3 years, but something just wasn't clicking.
Psychometric tests are the bane of any grad-jobseeker's life. However if you're really struggling to do well in them there are a few companies who have stopped using them, as they feel they're missing out on great candidates. It's worth asking the company representatives about it at graduate recruitment fairs your university will be running in the Autumn.
Now I have a paid internship with the possibility of a job at the end of it. To be honest because it was an internship, not a graduate job, I didn't put myself through the amount of stress and preparation I had for the others and maybe that was a positive! I just went there and was myself. Obviously you have to do your research but you'll take rejection a lot better if you take it as 'oh well I guess that job wasn't right for me' as opposed to 'what's wrong with me?'.
I know it seems like it's easy to say for me now that I have something (even if it isn't the coveted graduate scheme), but I feel like I see things a lot more clearly now. There have been times in this internship where I've put a lot of pressure on myself because I'm aware that what I do now decides if I get a grad job or not. But at the moment I'm getting stuck in, meeting and talking to as many people as possible, learning as much as I can and showing what I can do. That's all anyone can ask! And if it's not what they want then I probably wouldn't be happy there anyway and I'll need to look into other options.
So if you're in final year and it's getting towards April and you're still having no luck with graduate schemes, internships are a great option. With paid ones especially, you will be given real work to do because they're paying you to be there. They can open a lot of doors and if you can prove you're capable, hard-working and right for the company (and you can see if the company is right for you), then it really doesn't matter what you scored in your numerical reasoning!
I hope this has been useful for some of you final year students entering the minefield of graduate jobs :)