Class of 2019: How personal reflection and work experience can help you get on the right track


Jamie Gayya is a recent University of Leeds graduate, currently working as an Employability and Progression Assistant based in the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

Here she talks about how immediately after graduation she felt the pressure of being left behind as friends secured graduate jobs or further study.  However, by reflecting on her skills and values and undertaking volunteering she found a career path she is very much engaged in.

The benefits of University

In many ways, university has been more than just a place to gain an academic qualification. It has been a place that has exposed me to various opportunities and challenges – all of which have significantly contributed to both my career and personal development.  Beyond the accomplishment of graduating, my time at university has been significantly rewarding and memorable, as I have taken part in various opportunities. I have been involved in supporting a candidate campaign during the student executive elections, was a committee member for the Leeds Filipino society, and worked as a Leeds Loves Ambassador to promote the study of Arts and Humanities to secondary school students.

Where to start?

Having these experiences enabled me to gain a range of transferable skills that were useful for the world of work. Furthermore, these opportunities were very helpful in distinguishing what I enjoyed and disliked.  Despite acquiring all these skills, finding where to start after graduation continued to be a challenging and nerve-wracking phase. With my friends securing places for further study, graduate jobs and employment, I felt a lot of pressure that I had to get my career rolling to make sure that I wasn’t left behind. “But where do I start?” was a constant question and thought.

Making a start

I knew that the big graduate schemes were not for me so decided to browse through websites (Indeed, LinkedIn, Leeds Careers website) and applied for jobs that appealed to me. After many attempts, I got a phone call from an agency with an offer to be a Home Ownership Advisor in East London. I decided to take it, as I wanted to enhance my office experience. In this role, I got to liaise with varying stakeholders, improve my customer service skills, lead and manage projects, as well as learn more about the housing sector. Although I enjoyed some aspects of the job, I found that it was very demanding, stressful and challenging. I couldn’t see myself progressing in this career and so decided to move on.

Exploring my options – volunteering

During the time I was unemployed, I volunteered as an academic support for a local IntoUniversity branch, whilst taking time to reflect and use my past experiences to decide on what I wanted to do. From this, I was able to understand that I enjoyed helping others gain social mobility and really wanted to work in a university setting. With this in mind, I narrowed my search in hopes of finding a job that corresponded with my values.

Focusing my search

I started searching for live vacancies at the University of Leeds and came across an ‘Employability and Progression Assistant’ role. The job description drew me to it, as it aligned with my skills, personal values and goals. I was delighted to have been accepted and I am really looking forward to learning, gaining experience and helping students understand how the Careers Centre can provide continuous support after graduation!

My Advice

Don’t settle for a job you are unhappy in, take steps to find something that really aligns with your skills, interests and values.  Your first job may not be ideal, but you can take something from every experience.  The Careers Centre can help you explore your options and help you to find opportunities.

Look at the University’s ‘Your Future‘ framework to help you consider your options and make decisions about your next steps.

Read more about what is available to you as a member of the University of Leeds Class of 2019

And don’t forget you are not alone, you can continue to access the Careers Centre services and support once you graduate.

 

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