So you have graduated from university and are hanging your well-earned degree on your bedroom wall, and all of a sudden, a tiny, yet unavoidable voice in the back of your head is quietly screaming “No time to celebrate, you need to find a job!” or “I’ve got my degree…what do I do with it?!’. At this point, your heart rate might speed up as the realization that your life as a student has ended and you are facing the task of integrating yourself in the (deep breath now) real world.
If that last sentence makes you want to pull up the bedcovers and hide, rest assured, most students experience similar pangs of post-graduate anxiety. Simply put, the transition from being a student to becoming an adult (yes, believe it or not, you are all grown up now) with a job is a scary, but important one.
With that said, finding your dream job after university is not the Everest-like task that it appears to be. Let’s not forget that you have a Bachelor’s degree and that gives you an extremely marketable advantage. It may seem like the next logical step is to blanket the city with copies of your resume in the hope that someone will be impressed enough to offer you a job (I know the voice in your head is going into overdrive screaming “give me a job, ANY job, I’ll take it.”). The actual next step is the one that is most often overlooked but a necessary part of the process; giving yourself a much-needed time to reconnect with yourself.
Yes, you read that correctly. Before the job hunting, interviewing and networking, take some time to get to know yourself. Re-connect with yourself and get a strong sense of what your personal goals and values are. I’m not going to lie, this step will have its detractors (parents and other poopy naysayers that will be hounding you relentlessly to do something with your degree), along with that persistent voice in your head screaming “I don’t have time, I NEED A JOB!”.
Well, let me ask you this: how do you expect to find the job that is right for you, if you don’t know what it is that you want? Consequently, how can you know what you truly want if you don’t have a clue what your interests and values are?
Don’t fret if the answers are not coming to you as you read this, this is a process that requires patience with yourself. In the meantime, consider indulging yourself in all the activities that took a backseat while you were in school. Get lots of exercise, hang out with friends, go to the movies, eat ice cream, or take a well-earned vacation(if time and finances permit). By taking a step back, you are getting in touch with your values and what matters to you.
Remember, this is a process that cannot be rushed. The more pressure you put on yourself, the harder it is going to be. So allow yourself the luxury of enjoying this important transitional phase in your life. Let your thoughts percolate in the back of your mind and incubate on its own. In time, the answers will come to you and you will be ready to tackle the job hunt with a clear understanding of what kind of career you want.
An excellent starting point would be the SFU Career Services Centre. Along with offering invaluable information and advice regarding career planning, the Career Services Centre offers two assessment tests that will help you in gaining a better understanding of where your interests, values and strengths lie. Keep in mind, these tests are excellent in aiding you in understanding yourself, but they will not provide the definitive answer. Instead, they may help to point you in the right direction.
In life, it is who you are that determines what you will do….not the other way around. Some of our best decisions are guided by our fundamental desires and values and career decision-making is no exception to that rule. By taking the time to gain a solid understanding of yourself, you will have a great foundation to launch yourself into the job/career of your dream and silence that nagging voice in your head once and for all.