Career advice for soon-to-be graduates — and all of us, really

Making a difference and helping others is what we at DXC like to do. Many of our leaders help out with charities, mentor and coach others, both inside and outside the organisation. Others among us work with universities and schools to make a difference in diverse ways.

One way that many of us help out is by trying to guide those just entering the technology field to success in their career.

I watched a very dear friend of mine grow from a quiet, shy young graduate into a bold, brave courageous career woman. She is now godmother to my youngest daughter, and a young woman to watch.

Bron graduated in 2013 with a BSc Applied Geology degree and landed her graduate job as a Geotechnical Engineer in 2015 (after a gap year with my family in Australia). That year in Australia was spent whilst we were expecting our first baby, and I can honestly say I was not the easiest to live with at this time.

Pregnancy did not suit me well, but she was an amazing help to us. Bron was there when I broke my leg in three places and dislocated it at 8 a.m. in the morning, two weeks before my first baby was born.

At the age of 23 and in a foreign country, she got me from outside (I was trying to garden and fell down two steps), to the hospital and dealt with the horrific event. The event changed both of us forever and created a connection we’ll always share. Looking back now, I am so grateful that she was there and that she was able to stay calm and in control in an emergency situation.

Recently, Bron sent a wonderful email of hints and tips for new graduates hoping to secure their dream job. She gave me permission to use it as part of my blog to help others trying to navigate this terrain. So here are her hints, as well as snippets from my experience, to get you on your way.

  • Start applying for jobs before you finish your qualification. Get a headstart on your friends and other graduates. Some of the advertised graduate schemes have long application processes and require several interview phases.
  • Applying for graduate positions jobs may seem like a daunting and long process. The trick is to have “a game plan.”
    • Get your CV to stand out with both your Subject Expertise and extracurricular activities. You may already have this figured out, but remember it’s not all about education/work.
    • Get work experience. Volunteer for something you love, like a local museum or geological society that has a geological and paleontological department. Arrange work experience placements in your chosen subject.
    • Join societies and groups affiliated with your chosen subject This is a good way to keep up to date with industry topics and news.
    • Ensure that you have interests outside of work/study: Are you a part of a sports team? Do you enjoy reading? What do you like to do in your spare time? Give an example of something you enjoy and try to make it interesting/stand out. For example, have you created a start-up? Have you created an app? What languages, both computer and human, can you speak
  •  Tailor your cover letter to each job application. Tedious I know, but it’s the little things that make a difference. If you are applying for an advertised position, remember to read it through carefully and pick out the most important aspects to highlight. Draw upon your strengths but try not to make it too wordy (one page is sufficient). Include things like “aspire to become,” to show you are thinking about your future career path and who you want to become.
  • Keep a record of the jobs you have applied for and follow up with a phone call after a few days. Calling each company creates a rapport and gives you a “face” as the voice behind the piece of paper. A day or two after sending your application, don’t be afraid to check with organizations that they have received your application (if no email acknowledgment was sent) and a second call after about two weeks to see if there was an update on the application process (interview dates etc.).
  • Another final method is to focus on other companies you would love to work for but that are slightly outside your subject area. Just seeing if they are hiring is worth a go. (This is actually how Bron landed her graduate job and also how I landed my first job after university — by connecting and reaching out to people, taking a risk and taking that first step. There wasn’t an advertised position but if a company likes and wants you, they will make that position happen. Being proactive and using your initiative is what employers want to see.)

When at career fairs I always get asked the question, what do you look for in a graduate? My answer is spark, something different that sets you apart from everyone else, a passion and a willingness to help. Soon-to-be graduates should take this advice to heart. Believe in yourself; you can do anything you put your heart and mind to.

Would love to hear more hints and tips for the next generation of future leaders. How do you recommend new grads get started in the workplace?


Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.

RELATED LINKS

What millennials bring to – and gain from – a career in public sector

Changing your mind when it’s the last thing you want to do

The push you need to take the next step in your career

Comments

  1. Thanks Sarah for a very nice thought. I love the advice “something different that sets you apart from everyone else, a passion and a willingness to help”. Experience is good in many ways however in today dragmatic change world, innovation and creativity (something different, out of the experienced box) and passion are much greater.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Denise Pereira says:

    Good article. If you don’t ask, you won’t know and if there is one lesson that has been learnt is that nothing great comes from comfort zones. As a recruiter, we understand you are looking to ‘get in’ which is why it is so important that if you do not have any experience you really need to work on making yourself stand out from the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ian Sharpe says:

    Brilliant advice and good for everyone to reflect on!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great tips not just for soon-to-be graduates indeed. As Applications & Analytics Services international leader at DXC, I can testify that we share our experiences outside our organizations to support others in universities. To that extent, I have been for the past few years the Country lead in Belgium for two Alumni groups from Universities/Grandes Ecoles I graduated: CentraleSupelec and Centrale Marseille (France) and we recently relaunched the Career contact for any graduates or alumni members who seek advice / guidance in their careers. So, Sarah James’ advices are right to the point. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice Sarah. Just wrote this – may also be helpful. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/so-youre-going-job-interview-dave-aron

    Like

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