My habits for smooth career planning – OurWarwick

My habits for smooth career planning

  • Learn to check MyAdvantage as if you would your social media accounts. No workshop is never not for you and you never know which skill will come handy. It is very useful and I cannot recommend it enough.
  • Get yourself a LinkedIn. It might sound boring at first but once you’ve invested some time and energy into connecting with people and following the companies and topics you fancy, your feed actually becomes very useful and rewarding. There is a lot of useful stuff on there and no it is not all for grown up, professionals who are all doing their dream jobs. There is a lot of useful stuff for students too.
  • Use social media to your advantage. Whilst some might already be using social media professionally, it is OK if you don’t want to do that. You have many other options like getting yourself another account which is professional or simply follow the companies you like and keep up to date about their progress without projecting your personal brand through those platforms. I wrote a careers blog on social media as part of my job as a careers representative. You can read it here if you so wish.
  • Start looking at the skills that jobs ask for that you might be interested in. Even if you’re not decided about what you want to do, most skills are transferable and if you are aware that technology is a skill that your field adores, it might be worthwhile considering learning to code. Warwick IT services also offer many skills session and a Microsoft Qualification as well. Here is a link to their services:
  • Have a chat with a careers advisor. There is no harm in speaking to them about your plans even if it is that you have none. I went to a session and it involved sitting down and brainstorming and because I was put on the spot, I was saying and thinking about a lot of things that otherwise I might have shied away from.
  • Look at competency interview questions for fun and see if you can answer them. They can serve as a great indicator of which skills you have and which ones you lack. Also, they can tell you a lot about your self-awareness and how much you know yourself. Sitting down and trying to think of a confident reply to "tell me about yourself" can be a great way to think about your strengths and achievements.
  • Reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses. When thinking about the former, humility kicks in and ruins the thought and when reflecting upon the latter, we shy away from addressing them. It is important to have some things to feel proud about because I find that my strengths tend to boost my confidence when I get a rejection or feel like I cannot do something. A weakness, on the other hand, will not get better until you make it and the first step is to accept it.
  • Think about the things you like doing. They don’t have to do with the field that you’re in but think about what makes you enjoy those activities and you’ll understand a lot about yourself – My Sprint mentor told me this and we did this activity together and I can tell you it works beautifully.
  • Value your mentors if/when you have them. Never lose touch with good mentors if you are ever lucky to have one. My mentor from Sprint and I were both very busy and I kept cancelling our meetings. I went to see her once and then we caught up on Skype twice. I am so glad that I did because her acquaintance has been pivotal in ensuring that I do not undermine my achievements just because they are not the most exotic. She is still happy to assist me whenever I need help and I would never let go of this connection. Sometimes, conversations with mentors can feel time-consuming and since you’re not doing "work", you might feel like it is not worth it but I have learnt that in life advice is not always useful when it is received but take it anyway for those moments in life when you might need advice but have no one to turn to.
  • Get into the habit of SMART action planning. Loads of key words but SMART means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals. Set them as action plans i.e. things you’ll do. The most important thing to get into this habit is to not set yourself the target of travelling to the centre of the Earth by the end of the year. Set yourself small goals like reading a book or attending a MyAdvantage skills session first and once you start to get the positive feeling of reward, you’ll automatically get into the habit of setting personal goals and it is the best way to see how you grow as a person.
  • Apply for insight days/spring programmes/summer programmes or similar things. You might be the person who is very good with recruitment stuff or someone like me, miserable but either way, I think you should apply to things regardless of whether you get it or not. Give it your best and then leave the rest to the forces of the Universe. Do not seek to feel super inspired by a job just by reading a job description. I have, the hard way, come to terms with the fact that recruitment people don’t put half the amount of effort into their job descriptions as they expect us to put into the applications and cover letters. You’ll find, in most cases, you have to do extra research to ignite the passion for the company / role and then demonstrate it.
  • Research before careers fairs. The careers fairs app is very useful. I tend to search just chemistry and all the companies that take chemistry students come up. Then a quick read of their description, note down names and think of a few questions to ask. l have also visited the law fair and it was helpful having done my research beforehand. People at careers fairs are there because they want to speak to us and it is often something like randomly asking for a pen that might switch their attention off otherwise, they’re usually very willing to have a chat and give you useful advice.
  • Have your favourite websites to read. I recently found the Forbes website which I have been using quite a lot because it seems useful. LinkedIn has many useful articles on careers too. The prospects website is very helpful and don’t forget the Warwick Careers Blog! There are so many platforms but you will probably not like them all. So search up and see which ones you like and make sure you have a favourite one to turn to when you need to.
  • Set up search alerts for jobs when you are looking for them. A quick scan of the emails will be very useful. This includes MyAdvantage! It is very frequently updated. Other websites might just decide to be annoying and send you links to jobs that are clearly not for you but sadly you have to live with this. There are of course useful things as well therefore scan those lists when you need them.
  • Get into the habit of checking your email daily. If you have them in your phone, you’ll just get a notification whenever you get one. I have turned off sound notifications for everything except phone, messages and Whatsapp. I only have Badge app icons on so that I only check my emails / social media when I open my phone with the intention of checking these apps. Having them on the screen can instead distract you but you decide how you want to deal with these things. I would only say that you should at least check your emails once a day.
  • Read your sector news. I am going to try to read my Chemistry World magazine for the month this time and from now onwards, read them every month rather than to keep collecting them. Only yesterday I read a few articles and I am feeling re-connected to the world of chemistry otherwise if I don’t read the news for too long, I begin to feel very out of touch and have no idea what is happening in the world of my sector. Some of you might also be paying for the membership of societies that you like (the RSC in my case). It might not hurt your bank account so much (unless if it is the Financial Times which I so want) but it could hurt your commercial awareness. Being able to have an informed discussion with someone about your sector might just be what distinguishes you from another candidate.
  • Be open-minded and don’t stress. Career is a continuous thing not a one off goal as it is often perceived. Life usually consists of the factors – academic/professional, personal and social. You cannot plan a third of your life in three days. So take it easy and go with the flow!

Leave a comment

   or Log in?

Ask a