I am a third-year student at SOAS and I have just secured a graduate job. I will be joining Google as an Associate Account Strategist when I graduate next summer. Here is my take on how to secure a job before you graduate.
Why are you going to university? Either to continue your studies or because you need a degree to get a job. Many students think that they will start applying for a job when they graduate. However, the process of securing a job can take around six months – and hundreds of applications.
Applying to jobs is essentially like a part-time job while you are studying. You should start preparing for applications over summer. Most good graduate scheme applications open in September/October and close between October and December for the next year’s entry.
These are five steps that will help you to secure a graduate job. This list is not exhaustive, but it gives a basic outline.
Identify companies that you want to work for 💡
Brainstorm and make a list of at least 15 companies you would want to work for. Go on their careers websites to check if they do graduate schemes and application deadlines. I wanted to work in tech, so I looked at the Fortune 500 companies list and selected a few tech firms. You can google ‘List of international organisations’ and make your list from there.
Create a spreadsheet 👩💻
Create a spreadsheet with all your companies of interest and add columns for a role, deadline, application progress, etc. This will help you to be organised. You do not want to come to an interview not knowing what job you applied for – or worse, miss any interviews.
Link to a template HERE.
Top 3 choices – learn their mission, products/services, culture/people 🔍
The application process is exhausting, and you won’t be able to give 100% of your energy to all the places you will apply for. Each company has a different style of interviewing, which you’ll need to learn. So select your top 3 choices and research each company and job at length. I divide it into three sections – mission that resonates with me, products/services, people/culture.
Reach out to people who work there 👋
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you want to be successful, you need to ask for help. Reach out to people who work in those companies on your list. Make sure there is something in common between you and them. Maybe you both went to SOAS, or you both did similar volunteering. Use LinkedIn – when you add them, add a note saying you are thinking of applying for a job at this company and would love to know about their journey and experiences there. Ask to meet over a cup of coffee. At the end of the coffee meeting, ask them for a referral (if the meeting went well!).
Interview preparation 📝
Once you secure an interview, check the company’s website to learn how their interview process looks like. Create flashcards of all possible questions and your answers. Ask the person that you had coffee with to do a mock interview with you. I will write on this more in a different article.
Remember one thing – do not constrain yourself to the limitations of your background or thinking. I study International Relations, and I am not technical whatsoever, but I managed to secure a job in a tech firm because I did not put myself in a box that constrains what I can achieve. Think outside of the box. Set yourself unrealistic goals, because you might end up achieving them. You live only one life, you might as well try reaching for the best.
- Khulan Davaajav is a SOAS Digital Ambassador and third-year student on the BA International Relations and Hebrew. Khulan is due to join Google as an Associate Account Strategist upon graduating in 2020.
- SOAS Careers is open to all SOAS students & Alumni. They offer one-to-one careers guidance, CV & application checks and interview preparation, as well as a huge host of online careers resources. Find out more at https://www.soas.ac.uk/