Words by: Mia Deans Art by: Jessica La
1. Shock & Denial: You always knew this day would come, but suddenly it feels as though it has come so much sooner — no thanks to a pandemic which saw a year of your degree completed from the lounge room, in the company of only a sad monitor setup and disruptive pets. But you still have two semesters to finish… it couldn’t possibly be time to apply for jobs already? Regardless of how you got here, you’re here: your final year and now, it’s time to look beyond. Choose to take comfort or concern in the fact that you are one of many soon-to-be graduates trailing this very path.
2. Preparation: Armed with Canva, it’s time to polish up that resume and scope out the job market. Many applications open in February, while a few trickle through to July to commence the following February. At the expense of sounding like a career counsellor, LinkedIn truly will be one of your greatest allies at this stage. You don’t have to love it, but at least respect it enough to pay regular visits. While Career Connect has some helpful tips to offer, let me save you some time. Most prominently, you will be reminded to do your research, familiarise yourself with the STAR interview method, and of course, customise your CV and cover letter (and for the love of LinkedIn, make sure to change the company name and have someone proofread it).
3. Application: Here’s the most obvious step. It goes without saying that you won’t be receiving any offers for jobs you never applied for. There’s a fine line between increasing your odds and exhausting yourself. A (simplified) way to narrow things down is to ensure that (a) you are actually qualified for the role you’re applying for, and (b) you have a genuine interest in the industry and organisation. Ask yourself: “have I completed the appropriate degree or major?” and “does this role spark contentment?” Now, buckle up for some lengthy applications and a series of psychometric testing, interviews, and mildly to entirely gauche online assessments.
4. Rejection: No surprises here. This is another one of those uncomfortable steps, and perhaps the most poignant at that. Rejection is inevitable along the way, and it may take many forms. At times, rejection looks like a prompt automated email straight off the bat; other times, you may have toiled through several assessments before receiving the big ‘no’ or, in this case, the big ‘we regret to inform you that…’. Keep in mind that this may very well go both ways. If at any point the sparkling façade of an organisation or your interest seems to erode, politely withdraw, and carry on.
5. Acceptance: Now, I mean this in the literal sense. It’s time to sign that dotted line. As Career Connect hauntingly informed me, only 30% of graduates land a formal ‘graduate’ role; if you’ve reached this point, congratulations! And if not, remember, this is just one of many post-grad pathways (feel free to skip to Stage Seven). Apparently, (if you are so lucky) it is common practice to decline graduate offers retrospectively. So, if you receive multiple offers and need a little time to make a big, final decision, take it. Here, you’ll also likely encounter a new set of realities: the prospect of a 9am to 5pm, a salary and paying back your HECS debt — who would’ve thought that would ever happen?
6. Grief: I bet you didn’t expect to see this one here and, frankly, neither did I. As an abrupt ode to the original seven stages, grief may just barge its way in. For me, this came as the acute realisation that my current state of life is (almost) officially over — that is, the flexibility, limited responsibility and endless potential that I have enjoyed as a student are foreseeably coming to an end. Even more so, I was struck by the thought that my entire adult life had been seemingly leading to this moment. Since breaching adulthood, I had been striving for something that felt perfectly out-of-reach.
Like many of you, I have occupied a constant state of ‘push’: pressurised VCE to get the shiny ATAR, to get into the shiny university, to get the shiny WAM. All the while, I had been working in a larger pursuit of something which was conveniently ambiguous. For as long as I could remember, my life was full of choices, of a million unimaginable unknowns, and a big, fat question mark in place of a job title. Truth be told, while daunting at times, this kept me hopeful, curious, and almost wilfully unsure. A significant part of me had to stop to mourn the possibilities that must be laid to rest in order to give one thing the attention and effort it requires to flourish. My only antidotes to this sticky step: the knowledge that I have taken joy in each and every thing which has led me to this point, and the comfort that everything before this once felt unfamiliar too.
7. Acceptance: I promise that this is not the same as Stage Five. This stage is even often fondly referred to as ‘Acceptance & Hope’. Whatever has happened up until now, take a moment to applaud yourself for everything you have already and are soon to achieve. Completing a degree or two is no small feat. Now, approaching my very last semester with a sense of clarity for the future, I feel that I am finally able to appreciate the uni experience in its fullness. For those of us graduating this year, it’s time to enjoy it while it lasts and welcome the stretch marks that are sure to come. And to my penultimate friends, good luck out there.