From the exam hall to the office – starting a new graduate job

I’m Jamie, I just graduated with an undergraduate degree in Music, and a few weeks ago I started my new job here at The Careers Service.

My final year at The University of Manchester was a strange one indeed. Final year is without a doubt the most stressful – the workload piles up, the exams are worth more than ever before, and the pressure is on to figure out what to do after your degree. At the same time though, you’re probably at your most comfortable. You’ve spent three or four years getting used to the student lifestyle and truly making Manchester your home – at least that’s what it felt like for me.

The most daunting part of applying for jobs and graduate schemes is that you don’t really know what to expect. Going from university into a job is probably going to be the biggest jump out of your comfort zone since you came to uni in the first place, once again having to meet new people, get settled into a new routine, maybe even moving a to new city and not really knowing anyone.

Graduating on one of those rare sunny Manchester days

The job search

After trawling through job site after job site, applying to a bunch of graduate schemes and internships that I’d be interested in, I stumbled across this role on Careerslink – a job at The Careers Service as Student Communications and Marketing Assistant. Looking at the job description, there were some things I felt comfortable with – the design work, working with social media – and definitely some things I didn’t. Not really having much experience in marketing, I felt a little bit out of my depth but regardless, I was really interested in the job so I spent a couple of days working on a cover letter and sent off an application.

The interview

I remember when I got the call – I was in the middle of an assessment centre for another job I’d applied for (talk about great timing!) when my phone went off. Luckily we were on a tea break. I’d been invited for an interview. Cut forward to a week later, a load of interview prep and research under my belt, and having spent an inordinate amount of time picking out the right tie (not too dull, but nothing too garish), I’m sat in the interview room. Half an hour flies by, and of course I focus straight away on what I think went wrong. The questions I think I didn’t answer well, how I spent too long talking about irrelevant things, the awkward silences that seemed to last an eternity before I started talking. Oh well, it’s all good interview experience, right?

The job

To my surprise then, I got the job! It’s great to be able to see the University from the inside, effectively – seeing the inner workings of the Careers Service, and getting to know some of the exciting things I’ll get to work on this year. Of course I was pretty nervous on the first day; wondering if I’ll fit in, if I’ll know what I’m doing, if I’m out of my depth, but everybody here has been hugely welcoming and offering me their support and advice should I ever need it. Also, there’s a tonne of cake. Never a bad thing.

From day to day I’m doing things that I’m pretty familiar and comfortable with, like designing banners, flyers and promo material for events, as well as posting on social media on behalf of The Careers Service. I’m also doing a lot that’s completely new to me, like working on marketing plans and strategies, creating newsletters and even writing careers-related blog posts (yes, like this one!). One thing I’ve quickly caught on to is that you’re always learning, whether it’s being shown a new skill, learning from your mistakes, or even just how to have a good telephone manner when you’re on the phone to IT for the tenth time in a week trying to get your email account set up…

Starting your first steps after university – whether it’s chasing after that dream job, starting on a graduate scheme, or going on to postgraduate study – is definitely a daunting prospect. I’ve learnt that the first step is the hardest – the step to push yourself out of your comfort zone and do something new and unfamiliar.

Throughout the year I’ll be regularly blogging on here, so keep an eye out to see how I’m getting on in the new job!

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