You have decided you want to do a postgraduate degree, but you are wondering about how it may affect your career choices. Alternatively, perhaps you have graduated, and you are wondering exactly how useful that degree you have will actually be. Whilst a postgraduate degree can be great for landing you jobs, it is not a guarantee. In order to succeed in the world of postgraduate jobs, you need to be dedicated.

How to Look

Online job searching tools have become an essential part of generating job leads, reaching out to recruiters, and making professional contacts.  In fact, online tools are also important for people who already have jobs.  One of the advantages of the digital age is that there are many online tools to help you keep track of new job openings and professional contacts.

Conducting an academic job search is going to take an intensive amount of time and effort.  You will need to budget your time toward searching for jobs, applying, and follow-ups.  Do not be afraid to ask for help from peers and recruiters. Take advantage of your school’s community; talk to alumni groups who have gone through the same process you are, building up relationships with your professors.

Where to Go

When we think of social networking and job searching in the same context, LinkedIn immediately comes to mind.  While LinkedIn is the number one professional networking site, several others can be very useful for job seekers.  Numerous websites are devoted to job searching, and they are a great place to begin. When using them, be sure to try various combinations of keywords and search criteria to get a wide range of job options.

Postgraduate networking is not just about making contacts within academia, however. Think about the sort of industry you might go into following the completion of your studies. Try to widen your circle of contacts as much as possible. Many professional organizations have websites or subscription email lists that post job openings; these will be especially helpful tools as they are discipline-specific to your career interests. You will also want to attend career fairs and talk to the recruiters, build relationships. This may be obvious for some students, but it is less so for others. Not all postgraduate courses point to an obvious career path, after all. Once you have identified a likely sector of industry check out any trade fairs that are associated with your field of interest.

Lastly, do not forget about non-technical forms of communication. People still find jobs by word-of-mouth and by printed advertisements. Talk to people in your field, check message boards around campus, and look through journals and magazines that have job listings. 

When to Start Looking

How early in your final year, should you start applying for jobs?  Students in their last year who do not have a job in their prospective field should begin their career search immediately.  Since most graduates find jobs through networking strategies, which takes time, start as early as the summer before senior year. Spring is another option for when to begin strategizing your job search, because come graduation, recruiting season will be in full swing. However, the best advice is to start your job search soon as possible and invest as much time and energy in as you can. 

Here are five ways that you can prepare for your career while still in graduate school:


1.       Join Volunteering Activities

2.       Apply For an Internship

3.       Start Freelancing

4.       Develop a Professional Online Presence

5.       Find a Mentor

Identify your Priorities and Be Confident

Many students become discouraged and frustrated when they think about careers and life after graduate school. As a graduate student, you should be confident about your skills, you have worked extremely hard to become an expert in your field – flaunt it.

Ask yourself what you want most from your job and in life:

·         Do you want a specific type of position?

·         Are you willing to move?

·         Do you thrive in high-pressure situations or in a less intense environment?

Asking yourself these and other similar questions is important because it is unlikely that you will find your ideal job just as you are leaving graduate school. Therefore, you need to know what you are, and are not, willing to sacrifice.  However, as you identify and implement your priorities, do not feel that you must sacrifice something simply because your peers may be doing so. As long as you are willing to be flexible in some way, you can have a successful job search.

If you continue to struggle, consider how you might adapt your search.  Earning an advanced college degree is a huge accomplishment.  Imagine career paths that would enable you to use the skills and knowledge you possess, even if they are not typical for someone with your degrees.  You may ultimately end up doing something very different from what you imagined.


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