I’ve Graduated…..Now What?

By Morgan Pettersson

For many people, such as myself, the time has come to graduate after passing all of my units and receiving my graduation check.

Finishing university is both an exhilarating and fearsome time.

On the one hand you have completed your three or four-year bachelors degree, and are excited about finally getting out into the real world and put the skills learnt into practice.

Unfortunately the real world can be quite a scary place, with jobs for journalism graduates few and far between.

I had always thought that I would be really prepared to enter the work force upon graduating university, but the realisation that I am not prepared has began to sink in.

Below are the top tips I have for feeling more prepared when graduating and trying to land ‘that’ dream job.

It will hopefully help prepare anyone who is currently in the midst of their degree or just about to finish.

Start a blog:

The best advice that I was ever given at university was to start a blog, and start producing my own media content.

Not only was this helping to hone my skills by constantly writing and putting together broadcast material, but it also creates an online portfolio which you can show a prospective employer.

If you are an avid gaming fan, why not start a blog reviewing games?

If you love food, start a food blog documenting your favourite meals and what constitutes good food.

If you are passionate about the environment, start writing about environmental issues in your area (sound familiar?).

The fact is that it is so easy to start a blog, and even though only a few people might read it daily, people are still reading it, and you are staying passionate about journalism.

Work Experience:

Work experience is something that you normally try to complete during your degree, although if you didn’t because you were too busy during your degree just after you finish is a great time to sneak in some last-minute experience.

Most organisations offer work experience, although many like to take on students through structured university placements, you should check to see if your university offers anything similar.

It means that you are earning credit towards your degree whilst on placement.

Work experience generally means that you don’t do a lot, except follow someone around and learn about the industry and job, but it does give you a good insight into whether or not this sounds like the kind of  job you would be interested in.

Overseas Exchanges:

I am personally a big fan of the overseas exchange.

In Europe for example it is extremely common to spend a semester abroad in another country as part of your ‘Erasmus’ semester.

Yet in Australia it is not as common for people to go overseas to study, and after having spent two semesters abroad in Ireland and Greece I believe more people need to do it.

Not only do you learn about different cultures, and also languages, but you become able to view the world on a more global scale and this can set you apart from the rest of the graduate crowd.

An overseas exchange does not necessarily need to be a whole semester, there are plenty of summer schools or short courses you can do.

I am a firm believer that in this day of global economies and businesses, that gaining further knowledge and contacts overseas is vital.

Internships:

Internships are great ways of gaining more hands on experience in a job or field than you would by completing work experience.

The level of the internship can range from simply getting coffee for people and observing, to becoming a fully fledged member of a team and being able to write/create your own stories.

Either way an internship will help you gain contacts and an idea of what the industry you are pursuing is like, and will often leave you with a strong impression about whether a certain role if for you.

Internships often need to be searched for, especially in Perth where they can be near on impossible to find.

Google is your friend, and it is important to try many different searches and use your investigative skills to seek and find.

I personally found out about a current internship at a community television station through gum tree, all thanks to google and hours spent searching for any journalism internships in Perth.

Another important note on internships, is that if you are flexible, they can be found anywhere.

Try looking interstate or even overseas.

It will give you the edge over other graduates and the skills you will learn working in a completely different environment will …

Learn a language:

Again in todays international economic climate, knowing another language is such a bonus.

Unfortunately Australia is still to recognise the value of being bilingual or multilingual, but it is starting to catch on.

If you are serious about journalism and communications then knowing another language could be that added something that sets you apart from the other graduates.

Choose a language that you are interested in and start to learn, either online, independently, take a course or do a mixture of all three.

Choosing to study a new language with a friend or relative can be a fun activity and you can help each other learn.

Failing that there are so many blogs online now that encourage language learning and which show that with dedication and determination learning a language can be relatively easy and fun.

Up Skilling:

This is so important.

In a crowd of communication graduates you need to be able to sell yourself to a prospective employer by showing them that you have skills which are valuable to them.

If you are just studying a generic journalism/communications degree consider if there is another subject area that interests you.

It may be politics, law, economics, international relations, anything really.

I for example studied not only journalism and public relations but history too.

This is also true for skills that relate directly to journalism/communications.

Many universities offer shorthand writing courses as part of their course structure, but others don’t.

Short hand knowledge is essential for all journalists, but especially those wanting to become print journalists.

If your university did not offer a short hand course, find one to enroll in, or better yet buy a short hand book online and start teaching yourself.

This will show to a prospective employer that you are self motivated and committed to your career, which can only help you in your quest for ‘that’ job.

Volunteering:

This does not have to be necessarily related to journalism or your degree, but it gives you added skills and a different out look on life.

If you want to relate it to journalism, search around for your local community radio station.

They are always looking for volunteers to read the news, produce shows or even present shows as well.

Otherwise consider what your other interests are outside of your studies.

Love animals? Contact the nearest animal shelter to start volunteering there.

Join the bushfire brigade or become a first aid volunteer, tutor children in English who have just immigrated.

The list is endless, but not only will volunteering make you feel good, but you never know the people who you will meet and the experiences you will have will stay with you forever.

You can also consider volunteering overseas.

Virtual Internships:

In a world obsessed with the internet, virtual internships are beginning to pop up all over the place.

The best part is many companies are looking for communications graduates.

What is a virtual internship you ask?

Well it is an internship that you complete with a company or organisation but it is solely online.

You may be based in Australia but completing an internship with an organisation in America.

These sorts of virtual internships can give you great online experience in editing and also gives you the chance to further build a portfolio of work.

I hope this brief guide will help any prospective journalist or communications graduates, it has even helped me whilst I was writing it.

The industry is a hard one to break into, and it is becoming even harder as more and more people graduate with a communications degree.

Perseverance is key, and the right job will come along when the time is right.

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