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Plan your career while you study

Nerizza Aborde

Freelance Writer
Waiting until you've graduated to plan your career is too late! Read on for the best tips on planning your career while you study.

Undertaking a postgraduate study program provides significant benefits for professional advancement or future research work.

If you elect to pursue a postgraduate program out of passion rather than with a specific career goal in mind, it would be prudent to consider what you will do at the end of the program, from the outset. This is equally important if you elect to complete a postgraduate degree in a vocational field, such as quantity surveying.

Graduate job application dates

In the final year of your postgraduate studies, it is vital to identify the companies or opportunities you wish to apply to as early in the year as possible. The majority of Australia’s best postgraduate employers publish key dates in their recruitment calendar well in advance, such as their application deadlines. Create a list of these dates as soon as possible, to ensure that you have adequate time to prepare your application and submit it during the first term of your final year.

Employment sources for Postgraduates

When embarking on your job hunt, your university’s careers advice service is an excellent source of expert information. They have access to a vast range of recruitment resources, including numerous career fairs and exhibitions, as well as a range of online materials. It may be worth researching the profiles of alumni who have gone into similar fields to yours, and contacting them directly for advice, or even any job opportunities that may not yet be advertised!

There is also a plethora of resources outside of the university environment, including online graduate job search engines such as GradAustralia. Offline resources include newspapers, magazines and your extensive network of friends, family and acquaintances. Be sure to take full advantage of all of the information and contacts at your disposal, as opportunities can often be found where you least expected them!

For university graduates with disabilities, there are extensive support networks in place with numerous services and organisations offering specialist assistance. Job Access, for example, is a national centre for workplace and employment information for those with disabilities, providing information and advice on issues such as job hunting, workplace modifications and creating a flexible workplace. They can also provide careers training and advice, and assist in connecting employers with specialist service providers.

Use your postgraduate education to your benefit

Upon completion of your postgraduate studies, the next step is finding employment that best suits your skills and interests. Aside from your academic qualifications, prospective employers will be keen to see that you have skills and experience that are relevant to the job for which you are applying. It is essential, therefore, that you demonstrate any and all skills that you possess, including those transferable from previous employment. For example, time spent working as a cash register attendant in a store demonstrates a basic knowledge of accounting, while dealing with a range of different people shows that you have experience in people management and teamwork.

Basic clerical tasks such as producing spreadsheets may demonstrate an aptitude for analytics and reporting, both skills which are highly prized by potential employers. Be sure to include all relevant experience in your CV and application, and be prepared to use these to your advantage during an interview.