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Career first: top tips for postgraduate students

Thinking about changing lanes, changing your job or changing careers entirely? You aren’t alone. Research shows we’re switching it up more frequently than ever, with professionals averaging 1.9 years in a job.

This means that managing your career is becoming more and more crucial. If you’re considering postgraduate study, or are already in the thick of a degree, it’s important to have a clear vision about where you envision your career going and the steps you need to take to get there.

Bond University’s Career Development Centre (CDC) has guided hundreds of students through their time at university and into their careers. The CDC offers career support of all kinds, including assistance securing internships, resume-building tips, and eventually, access to job opportunities.

We asked the staff at the CDC what their key pieces of advice were for postgraduate students looking to take the next step in their studies, and subsequently, their careers – here’s what they had to say. 

1. Think about what you want to achieve

When it comes to making decisions about your career, you need to have a clear intention behind your actions. Take stock of where you’re at, what skills and experience you’ve got under your belt, and the values you want to uphold throughout your career. Use these to inform your decisions and future career moves.

“Think about what you want from work and from there you can start to design that journey, which may include postgraduate study, a side hustle or simply a change in workplace.”  

2. Design your life

You spend a large proportion of your life at work, but work shouldn’t necessarily be your entire life. Approach those big decisions from a ‘life design’ perspective – prioritising what you want from your life both at work and outside of work.

“It’s about understanding that the parts of your life that give you the most satisfaction might not be the parts you get paid for.

“But you can design your life so you make the most of your career and get the most out of it. We see students who do that, and they get extraordinary results.”

Take a holistic approach to life that encapsulates not just work, but your family priorities, time spent on hobbies, personal development, and anything else you value in your day-to-day.

3. Understand the modern career path

The traditional model of working your way up a career ladder is no longer relevant. The modern career is all about being adaptable and able to recognise – and follow – opportunities that arise.

“The modern career isn’t about achieving certain thresholds anymore. It’s about having a journey that makes sense to you, at that moment in time. There’s no perfect plan.”

If you’re feeling a little lost or unfulfilled by where you are, there’s always an opportunity to make a change. Postgraduate studies serve as a great way to switch lanes, and often, they can build on your existing skill set in ways you might not realise.

Undertaking microcredential qualifications or upskilling via courses can also help you unlock new career opportunities. Something as short as a one-day course can teach you skills with the potential to boost your eligibility for a certain role. 

4. Be open to opportunity

One of the key traits of successful professionals is what the CDC calls an ‘opportunity radar’. This really just constitutes being open-minded to possibilities and knowing where they may arise or how to seek them out. Once you’ve found the right opportunity, how you use it is just as important.

“Learn how you might be able to use the skills or experience you gain from that opportunity, and then build your own path from there.”

5. Say yes

The CDC’s final, and perhaps most salient, piece of advice is to just say yes.

“Side hustles, internships, work experiences – all of these things are designed to foster relationships, and who knows what opportunities might come from them.”

Each experience that you have throughout your career contributes to your overall eligibility as an employee, or perhaps one day, an employer or business owner. Whether it teaches you soft skills or the knowledge you need to excel at your chosen career, it’s all worthwhile.

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