Are you a student just finishing school or a graduate exploring the next steps after college? Choosing between further studies, jumping head-first into a job, taking a gap year or getting an internship: the options are many and each has its merits. But how do you choose the right path for you?
In this blog we will look at:
- How to choose a career
- Career advice for students
- Apprenticeship opportunities
- Placement Programmes
- Job Shadowing
- How FDM can help launch your career
How to Choose a Career
Choosing a career is a significant life decision and therefore requires planning. You need to have a plan to find the right path for you. Career planning is important for students and graduates, as well as all job seekers and those looking to return to work after a career break. There are three main steps in a career plan:
- Identify your interests
- Do your research
- Take actionable steps
Identify Your Interests
The first step is identifying your skills and interests and seeing if they align with what you originally set out to do. You may have decided to be a software engineer whilst studying but your skills and aptitude might guide you towards a different path. Do an honest self-assessment and make a list of your strengths and any transferrable skills. This is a good way to identify any potential gaps in knowledge or experience that you need to fill.
If you’re struggling to zero in on your key skills, a different approach might work better. Ask yourself questions like:
What do I most enjoy doing?
If you’re studying, consider which subjects or modules you find most interesting. For example – if you’re studying software engineering, you may prefer application and web development to business analysis and solution design. Identifying your interests and skills will guide you to a career that’s best suited to you.
What do I want from my career?
This is an important decision that depends on multiple factors including job satisfaction, growth potential, work-life balance, salary, flexible working conditions and more. These are personal preferences that will vary from individual to individual. A simple google search can provide basic answers to all these questions. However, for a more in-depth understanding of a career of your choice and all its pros and cons, a job shadowing experience or internship is recommended. More on this later.
Do Your Research
For those looking to enter the ‘job market’, there are three broad job sectors namely – private, public and the third sector, which includes charities or non-profit organisations. Research current trends in each sector and explore new roles and career paths. A good rule of thumb is to identify 3 or 5 roles within each sector and then research the job descriptions and pros and cons of each role in terms of career development, training, entry requirements, etc.
Another option to consider is:
- Do you want to work for a small or medium enterprise?
- Do you want to work for a large company?
- Do you want to be self-employed?
Each of these choices will determine the kind of career you should be pursuing. Note that the type of company you want to work for will depend on your unique personality and approach to work. What looks good on paper may not be the right choice for you. For example – a big multi-national company might seem like an attractive place to start your career. But it may not provide the best learning environment for freshers. Remember, as someone who’s just starting out in their careers, making mistakes is part of the journey.
Also, in big organisations, freshers can often get overlooked and they’re seldom entrusted with important projects. In a smaller business like a start-up on the other hand, freshers are often given more responsibility with the opportunity to learn on the job.
Self-employment is an entirely different pathway. Being your own boss and running your own business is a great option for those who have the aptitude and acumen for it. But self-employment comes with its unique challenges. According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), there were 4.1 million self-employed people in the UK in 2021. This is a 5% decline from 2020 and is viewed as an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit and other issues like IR35.
These are just a few of the many risks involved with self-employment. They prove that it takes a certain personality to be able to navigate a career as a self-employed person.
Take Actionable Steps
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to take some actionable steps. This means actively applying to available roles. Draft a professional CV and make sure you customise your cover letter for each role. Find out how to write a CV with no experience. Remember to read up on any company that you’re applying to and match your skillsets to the job description provided. It’s a good idea to have a couple of back-up options in addition to the top roles you’re applying for.
Career Advice for Students
Whether you’ve just finished school or completed your college degree and are exploring your options, it’s always a good idea to try and get work experience. In fact, more and more businesses are now expanding internship opportunities for freshers with many companies retaining interns as permanent employees down the road. According to the Institute of Student Employers, 94% of employers ask interns to return as employees.
Given these stats, it’s worthwhile to consider some of the ways for students gain work experience.
An internship is one of the best ways to get hands-on experience in the workplace. The duration of internships can range from a week to up to a year. Apply now to FDM’s 8 Week Summer Internship Programme for 2022 and get a chance to learn some key skills and get a chance to add value to the business from your first day. Collaborate with other interns and tackle challenges and solve problems and deliver a final presentation to senior managers across the business.
If you’re just finishing school or college, an apprenticeship programme is a great way to gain valuable work experience whilst pursing your studies. Typically, an apprentice will split their time 80/20 between work and study. Unlike work experience, an apprenticeship is a legitimate job that requires a legal contract of employment, salaries and annual leave. To apply for an apprenticeship programme in the UK, you must live in the UK and be over the age of 16. Check out FDM’s Apprenticeship Programme. Work four days a week on our unique 3-year programme and earn while you learn!
Placement programmes are another way to get your foot in the door of your dream company. FDM’s student placement programme is a 12-month experience that provides you with access to our award-winning graduate training and the opportunity to gain valuable commercial experience. Your role will see you working with teams that include IT Development, Sales, Recruitment, Marketing, Data Analysis and Human Resources and will provide day-to-day support of FDM’s purpose of creating and inspiring exciting careers. Check out FDM’s 12-month placement opportunities for 2022/2023.
Job shadowing is a popular type of work experience that involves closely observing the day-to-day duties of an industry professional. It enables you to learn on-the-job, gain first-hand insight into your chosen career and absorb as much knowledge as possible.
During a work shadowing placement, you will benefit from the undivided time and attention of the person you are shadowing, which you would not typically get with other kinds of work experience placements. Find out how to prepare for a job shadowing experience.
How Can FDM Help Launch Your Career?
FDM Group is a FTSE 250 company and a global leader in the recruit, train and deploy sector, specialising in business and technology. We work in partnership with our clients to help with their technology projects and to fill specialty skills gaps in their teams. We look at a broad range of factors during our application process, not just degree type or university and focus on the potential of candidates and what they can bring to a role.
We train graduates, ex-forces personnel and those looking to return to work after a career break and then place them with our industry-leading clients. FDM is proud to be an equal opportunities employer. Diversity and inclusion are part of our DNA. Our areas of focus include gender, ethnicity, social mobility, different abilities and neurodiversity, LGBTQ+ and parent and caring responsibilities as well as the ways in which these all intersect. This is what enables us to attract, recruit, train and deploy incredible people.
Our graduate programme provides the opportunity to gain invaluable commercial experience with our prestigious clients and kick-start an exciting career in business or tech. Apply to our Graduate Careers Programme today.