Graduating was an exciting time of celebration with my friends and family, finally letting out a breath of relief and reflecting on all my hard work over the past four years. For me, this also meant it was time to start thinking about my career path and searching for my first graduate job, whether it was in my field of study or something completely new.
WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW THAT I’VE GRADUATED? I was uncertain which career path I wanted to take upon graduating. I knew gaining experience, rather than saying ‘here’s my degree’, would be key for my CV to stand out to employers so I decided to apply for internships at first. This allowed me to experiment in different career fields, gain knowledgeable insight, create contacts for the future, collect reference letters when applying to jobs, meet like-minded people and most of all – have some fun. I used my university’s careers service resources for their advice on cover letter writing and their CV templates. To search for positions, I used Indeed, Erasmus opportunities, word-of-mouth, attended career fairs, looked at adverts on social media and asked event organisers if there was any way I could get involved in volunteering. My internship positions varied from an English teacher in Spain to an interviewer with Scottish Hockey in Glasgow.
MY FIRST GRADUATE JOB. It felt absolutely fantastic after 6 months of daily job searching, CV updating, travelling to interviews, cover letter writing, and working part-time to build up funds to get a call back confirmed I had got a job as a Digital Marketing Assistant with the University of the Highlands and Islands! I was delighted to get my first ‘adult’ job. No matter how many rejection letters you receive, you will often find they are a blessing in disguise. Although they are disappointing, it’s important to keep your hopes up and the right opportunity will find you with perseverance and hard work. Although I studied history at university, my research, analysis, writing and technological skills were transferrable to this new role.
AND THEN CAME LOCKDOWN. Two months into navigating a new full-time job, lockdown was announced due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thankfully, I had a work laptop with all my work resources easily accessible online, allowing me to work from the comfort and safety of my home. My employer also ensured I had materials needed to carry out daily tasks. I use a range of communication tools to keep in touch daily with colleagues including Skype for business, Cisco Webex Teams and Meetings, Microsoft Teams and email.
HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED. I have found it a smooth transition moving to working from home and without the usual office company. I know it is important to maintain a routine and to always get dressed for ‘the office’, I also give myself at least one goal a day to stay motivated. For example, going for a new walk route at lunchtime, cycling, baking, meeting up with a friend at a social distance, calling my family, Zoom calling my grandparents, online gaming, woodworking, embroidery, growing a herb garden, attending online Gaelic lessons, online shopping just to have something to look forward to in the post, book swapping and making plans as lockdown restrictions continue to relax. A break from an office environment has been good and allowed for a relaxed, comfortable work zone at home. I have also had more time for activities I’ve always wanted to try and don’t have to travel to work, turning my attention towards better relationships with friends and family.
SUPPORT. A support system is key. It can be easy to feel lonely or isolated in lockdown. It helps to talk to family and friends when looking for career advice or try to find a mentor who can offer advice on the next steps in your career. If you are a current student of the University of the Highlands and Islands, you also have access to the Careers Team via the FutureMe service. Graduates can also take advantage of the Graduates for Life offer and join our Alumni benefits.
Digital Marketing Assistant