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How To Survive The Rat Race

Jan 24, 2008
I have found that those who study academic subjects that are related towards creativity, arts and humanities find it very difficult to find a career that will suit them - one of whom is I. Many of my friends who had studied English Literature for their degree, had opted for the teaching, law, or even management consultancy recruitment route - me being an individual of altruist ethics decided to follow a slightly different route (not implying that any of the above cannot be defined as altruists in their own rights).

Like many graduates, I was lost, dazed and confused about what to do after completing my degree. It was in my mind and understanding that the world would undoubtedly become my oyster now that I have a few extra letters after my name! Coming from a South East Asian background, gaining a degree was like receiving an Honorary Doctorate or even a Nobel Prize for my community, because my family originated from a poor country, which allowed only a small number of people, to gain an education. Therefore, I felt I should be grateful having completed something that was practically free of charge - aside from the very generous student loans and debt.

Work Experience

For my friends who had studied Business Studies or Business related subjects for their degree, many had chosen to train for the management consultancy recruitment after completing their degree. However, one of whom had already maintained a job in this role was lucky enough to be promoted with a very generous salary package to claim under his belt. The idea of working or gaining work experience during your studies started to appeal to me and I realised this is probably the way forward.

Although I was not interested in pursuing a career within management consultancy recruitment, I was still unsure of what route to take and was quite content in just studying and working part-time in the service industry, whilst enjoying my university life. Nevertheless, the glooming prospect of entering into the big bad world was starting to over-shadow me and I knew that I could not ignore this further.

Get Ahead Of The Crowd

I remember, during my experiences at University, meeting a student who was both working and studying full-time - how it was possible, I cannot answer but this person had managed it. Her goal was to finish her degree, but at the same time gain work experience within media whilst studying. She began doing unpaid work experience for various small publishing agencies and then was lucky enough to be called up for part-time reception work.

After 18 months of working in reception, she was offered the editorial assistant position. Naturally, she accepted and continued studying changing her work hours to fit around her class times. Five years on, she would thank herself for making this decision, as she is now Managing Editor for a bigger publishing company!

I do not recommend on relying upon luck being on your side, this person had worked hard to get to where she is now. For those undergraduates who are studying right now and are considering your options post-graduation, do not leave things to the last minute. If an opportunity rises, think about it carefully and see if you can come to a compromise so as not to jeopardise your chances of getting the position or losing your place at university. These days competition is stiff, so try to cram in as much unpaid work experience as you can in your chosen field. Now is the best time to do it!

Gone are the days where graduates are employed almost immediately without experience, the reality is you need to be better prepared for the rat race. It is worth visiting your student careers advisor and discussing your options if you are unsure about what career path to take (a step I had gladly made in my final year of studying). Most importantly do your research - get to know the career path you want to take, so as not to lose yourself when entering into the big bad world.
About the Author
Anna Stenning has friends who have turned towards management consultancy recruitment, teaching and publishing - but has also managed to gain success in her career through preparing prior to completing her degree. For information on recruitment click on http://www.prismrec.co.uk/
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