Breaking into any industry is one of the most daunting tasks a graduate will have to face when entering the employment market. The need for experience often feels like a chicken and egg scenario; you need experience to get the job and yet it is difficult to get experience without previously having a job.
During my psychology degree, I undertook a wide variety of modules, enhancing both applied and theoretical skills. A module I found particularly interesting was “psychology in practice”. My enjoyment of this module helped me to identify the prospects of a career in a more business focused environment, something which I had not previously considered.
The journey from graduate to employee can feel like an uphill struggle, but you reap what you sow! Being clear on what you want to get out of your career, and why you want to enter your chosen industry, really helps you to keep focused.
The Brick Wall
Upon beginning my job search I created a list of possible sectors which aligned with my skillset, knowledge and personal attributes. This was beneficial in helping me brainstorm for search terms when accessing search engines but led to me becoming somewhat spoiled for choice. Without a specific industry to target I became increasingly confused about what I wanted out of my career.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place. I felt obliged to pursue the healthcare route after the remarks from employers in other industries but was discouraged from applying to jobs within this field as I felt inadequate and that I was already set up to fail in that industry.
Responses from employers were few and far between, but those that I did receive only served to deepen my confusion. I felt as though I was being pushed into a box when it came to my job search. Industries outside of the healthcare sector would always ask “have you not considered a role in mental health?”. Whilst responses from within the healthcare sector was either crickets or outright rejections, based on a lack of industry-specific experience.
Amidst the confusion I was always very firm in prioritising company values and that any potential role stayed true to my passions. Consequently, I turned down some of the (very few) opportunities afforded to me because they didn’t feel right for me. Although, this may have been a roadblock of my own creation it was vital to ensuring that I secured the job that was the best fit for me.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Finally, I began to make some headway. For me just making it to interview was a massive confidence boost, providing even more motivation and passion for my chosen industry.
I approached this breakthrough with the mindset of – if you are successful and get the job, GREAT! If not, then you have gained a valuable insight into what it is that employers in your target industry are looking for and how you can self-identify to see whether you meet these requirements.
Attending interviews really helped me target my job search to be more industry specific, boosting my success rates with responses to my applications.
Knowing what I know now, I would tell myself to create a more focused initial search targeting in on one specific industry and not to let desperation get the better of me.
With that being said, I would not change the level of value I placed on company values and ethos. This was essential to not only my job satisfaction but also to ensuring that I made the best decision for me and my career.
I hope that this blog is not only beneficial to any graduates who may be experiencing similar struggles and can learn from my experiences, but also to employers for gaining an insight into breaking into industry from a graduate’s perspective.