How to start your career as a student

Written by Shu Ming, Real Estate and Planning Undergraduate

A lot of us who are currently studying at the University feel unclear or unsure about what to do in the future. I receive many questions and comments from my surrounding friends such as, “I can’t see what I am doing in the next five years”, “what should I do now?‘” “I am confused about what to do after I graduate“, “I am worried I will be jobless after I graduate“, ” Where should I start my career?“.

I have been in this dilemma myself, so how did I find my way? I started trying all sorts of jobs. I have valuable experiences in being a promoter, a waitress, a researcher, a personal tutor, a bookstore keeper, and manager, etc. I always try to speak with my superiors and listen to their career stories. When I was a waitress, I had a chance to meet the owner of the restaurant. He is one of the LSE alumni, and he shared his stories with me. He told me his obstacles while opening the restaurants and how he overcomes them. Now, he has 24 franchises all over Malaysia. It is indeed really inspiring and exciting. What I learnt from him is: have a passion for what you are doing and get used to rejection.

Knowing your passion

First, start by recognising what you are good at and have passion for. There is a tip on how to find your true passion; for instance, try doing the Free 16 Personality Test. You can fully understand your personality type and determine which career pathway is suitable for you. Unlock your potential. Be authentic when you are doing the test. A list of positions and roles that suit your personality will be given in the end for your reference. Additionally, our University provides one-on-one career advice appointments. You are encouraged to discuss your personal journey and concerns with the careers team by booking a careers appointment. Their experienced team of career consultants will guide you and do their best to answer your question and give you the advice to get you started.

Attend Webinar/ Boot Camp

There are many webinars on LinkedIn and events organised by the Careers Centre such as ‘How to make your part-time job sound good on your CV and job applications’. You are encouraged to attend those events as professional consultants will be advising on CV and resume application criteria that you should focus on. Tip: feel free to speak and ask questions from the speakers as they are skilled and experienced! 

Find an internship or attend a virtual internship

Working as an intern could be really helpful as you have the chance to know how it is really like to be working in the company. For example, Internship Experience United Kingdom (IEUK) by Bright Network are organised every summer. There will be a work sample given by various prestigious firms such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and etc during the internship. There will be speakers from those companies who will be sharing their daily work life and explaining how the industry in their department works.

Besides Bright Network in the summer, year-round you could attend a virtual internship by Forage. The platform provides a lot of virtual internship programmes by big firms, which may be really helpful if you are interested in doing the internship at your own pace. For example, you will be familiarising yourself with professional email etiquettes and doing Discounted Cash Flow with a few case studies if it is an investment banking internship. It will give you a thorough insight into the industry you want to explore.

Networking through LinkedIn

Networking through LinkedIn could be really helpful. For instance, it is advisable to network with the host and speaker through LinkedIn after a webinar or internship to keep yourself connected with them. They are people who are experienced in the field, and visionary advice can be given. LinkedIn is an excellent and formal platform to connect yourself with the work society. Feel free to politely pop them a message and tell them that you are interested in knowing more about the industry by asking them a question. Develop a connection with them and let them get to know you.

Taking your next step

If a graduate scheme is what you are going after, you could start preparing for it. Start researching for the companies that you wanted to apply for and which programme you are interested in. Research the company thoroughly and find out why you choose the company, what is the criteria that attract you the most, and more. Be sincere and be yourself. Then, you could start drafting your CV and resume. After that, you could begin to prepare for the aptitude test and interview. During the interview, show your passion and interest in the job and the company.

Besides the graduate scheme, you could have a look at entry-level graduate jobs, graduate internships, further study or having a start-up business.  Take a look at Career’s advice for finding opportunities as a finalist to find out more. Take time to explore your career interests and do not limit yourselves to one particular sector.

Your degree does not determine your career. According to Burnett and Evans (2016), three-quarters of all graduates don’t end up working in a career related to their majors. The most important thing is finding a job you love.

All in all, these are some tips on how to start and plan your career pathway. Good luck with your next job application, and hope you get what you apply for!