Written by Miriam Taylor, 2018 PRINZ Student Ambassador, AUT University
In a swish of black garb, Sarah readied herself at the base of the stairs. One foot in front of another she mounts the stage, determined that her choice of [fabulous but slightly tight] heels aren’t going to ruin this moment. As she moves in to shake hands with the Vice Chancellor, her cheeks burn and stomach flutters. Another man, who looks vaguely familiar, stiffly smiles and hands Sarah a plastic covered certificate. She takes one last look out toward the crowd, inhales deeply, and whispers, “See ya later suckers.”
For many students, graduation is a momentous occasion that marks the completion of formal education. It means goodbye lectures, all-nighters, toga parties, group assignments, and hello….workforce?
Leaving behind a comfortable university routine can foster apprehension and inertia. If this is the case, the question students should be asking is, “What can I be doing now, prior to graduation, that will make my transition into the workforce a little more bearable?”
Well, as a soon-to-be-grad myself, I thought I would let you in on three hacks that have equipped me to face graduation (and beyond) with positivity and confidence.
“You mean, like, internships? Oh yeah, I’ve heard that one before (blah blah blah) ”
No. These tips are far more nuanced, to the extent that doing them could fast track your learning beyond what any work experience has to offer.
Here’s the breakdown.
An informational interview involves arranging a meeting (usually over a coffee) with an industry leader whom you admire. Over the course of the meeting your objective is to find out as much as you can about them and how they got to where they are.
A few notes:
If you genuinely are looking for a job/work experience, the only time you should ever convey this to your interviewee is right at the end, and it should never be mentioned explicitly.One tactic I use is: “Thank you for your time Mr X…[insert comment about what you learnt/found memorable]. I’m actually looking for some experience in area X, do you know of anyone that can be of help to me in this area?”
By doing this you aren’t putting them on the spot. You’re giving them the opportunity to offload you to another person or, if they wish, they can choose to give you that opportunity themselves.
Informational interviews give insight into the methods and success stories of industry leaders.
Informational interviews provide you with clarity on whether a certain industry/job is suitable for you.
Informational interviews expand your network, giving you an ‘in’ with the top dogs.
Get a mentor
A mentor is someone who is more advanced than you professionally who—on arrangement—can give you advice about career development Ideally, as a mentor, he/she:
For the benefit of you both, you will need to clarify things like:
Join a club
In this case, the club should be an extension of something you already enjoy doing. Furthermore, you should be among the least experienced/knowledgeable within the group. As the saying goes, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
For me, I enjoy public speaking (yes, it’s possible), so I looked into joining a club to improve my speaking abilities. I have now been a member of Auckland Toastmasters for two years and absolutely love it. I’m practicing important skills outside the classroom. I’m surrounded by a group of experienced professionals that I would have no reason to associate with, had I not joined the club. I have exposure to a diverse range of networks, and as the youngest and greenest member, my fellow toastmasters are only too willing to provide support and advice.
Other clubs to consider include competitive sports teams, business groups (The Networking Club, Auckland Executive Club etc.) and PRINZ (of course).
Informational interviews, mentors, and clubs. With these tactics, you will:
Good luck, you won’t regret it.