How to find a job after University: How they did it

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Completing any form of education and entering the job market can be a daunting prospect. For those who have graduated University or decided to take other routes to finding a career the realisation that finding work is no easy fete can be demoralising. You’re wondering how to find a job after University? Instead of listing tips for finding a job, I thought I would share the testimonies of others who have been in your very same job hunting shoes, in the hopes of spreading some hope and advice. Their stories will motivate and inspire you  in your own journeys to a career or job.

Over the next few weeks these posts will be featuring the testimonies from young graduates and non-graduates on how to find a job after University. Check out the University section for more advice.

10681761_10152614547956480_139514571_nIsabella Silvers, 22

University: English Language at University of Sussex, graduated with first class honours in 2014
What are you doing now?
I have moved to London and am working at my local Topshop, a position I transferred from home, to university, and now to my new city. This week I am part of the Fashion Scout blog team, writing for their website at LFW. I also hold the position of Online Editor for Brighton Fashion Week, as well as Producer for BFW’s ShowReel. On top of this, I write freelance.
What did you do to work towards landing your present position?
I am proactive in looking for work experience, internships and opportunities, constantly searching online and Twitter for positions. I try and apply to as many as I can, and have been interviewed by a few places already. I always look for resources such as blogs, articles, books and magazine, that have advice on my chosen career (fashion journalism), and keep note of any tips. I attend career workshops and talks, write my own blog and freelance in order to build up my portfolio, and try and attend fashion related events in the hope of making contacts. I have been working towards this for the past six years, but especially so after finishing university – I started to really push myself as soon as I’d finished my exam at university. As much of my work is unpaid, I was persistent in gaining a transfer from Topshop in Brighton to London, ensuring I have at least a little bit of income while I work unpaid.
What was the biggest challenge to you leaving Uni and trying to find a job?
Realising that no matter how tough you thought it was to get a job, it’s 100 times tougher. The competition is fierce and it’s likely I won’t find a job for at least two years. People still expect me to work for free when I now have no student loan, and moving back in with family means that I have lost the quiet haven that was my bedroom in my student house. You go from being a student to just being unemployed (which I kind of consider myself, as my retail job isn’t something I see as a career). You can wonder what the last three years have been for.
How useful would you say your degree and Uni experience was to you getting your present job? And why?
My degree in English Language certainly puts me ahead of others in terms of spelling and grammar – this might sound silly but the amount of mistakes I have seen in other writers work is a bit scary. In terms of my degree leading straight to a job, my degree hasn’t been useful at all. I haven’t chosen to follow the traditional Linguistic paths of speech therapy, academics or translation (to name just three), but then again neither did I choose to do a fashion journalism degree, which may have led to more opportunities. However my university experience and living has been INVALUABLE. I think being proactive and persistent meant I made the most of all the connections available to me in Brighton, and with it being a relatively small city I was able to get really stuck in. Those contacts have helped me gain further opportunities and offered me so much support. Being close to London was also a huge benefit. What advice would you have given yourself before graduating, in terms of finding a job, knowing what you know now: Never say no to an opportunity, use your holidays and free time to get as much experience as possible, be ready with business cards and professional Twitter/LinkedIn/Blog/ Portfolio. Make the most of student media.
Are there any useful resources or motivational tips you can share that would help others in their journey to find a job?
It’s ok to make mistakes, just learn from them. Be persistent in a professional way, but always follow up and don’t expect just one e-mail to get you the position. Support your friends and they will support you!!!! This is something I feel passionately about, especially in the creative industries. Also, don’t give up. There will always be someone better than you, but if you get lots of experience there will always be people not as good as you as well. More specifically to fashion journalism, build up a portfolio, be present on social media, have a Twitter account, know writers in the industry and who you like to read, know the media landscape, competitors etc. On Twitter, follow @UkFashionIntern, @ArtsThread, @GoThinkBig, @FashionWorkie, @mediamuppet, @JournoGrads. Follow influential people in the companies you want to work for, as well as that companies Careers page. A lot of people are telling me they’re finding a lot of jobs on LinkedIn too. I do a weekly (if I get time) career advice post on my blog www.HellForPleather.com so they can follow me to find out what I’m doing if they like, this isn’t just a plug I promise!
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