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6 tips for a successful career start after graduation
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6 tips for a successful career start after graduation

Kinga Bartczak

Every winter semester, it’s always fascinating. There is a tremendous energy in the air and motivation and lightheartedness are once again taking hold on the campus grounds. Don’t be late for the seminar, make friends quickly and find the best locations to party. The start of your studies marks a new phase in your life, one that stands between the sheltered and protected school years and the uncertain and ever-changing professional world. Newly gained independence, increasing responsibility and the “cutting of the cord” from parental care and paternalism open up a wide range of impressions for the new students and thus prepare them for the path that lies ahead of them after graduation – a successful start to their careers.

A few semesters later, energy is only moderately present, motivation is sluggishly sustained by reward systems, and lightheartedness gives way to existential anxiety. The end of your studies is approaching and you ask yourself:

What now? I am qualified and yet disoriented.

Students of so-called “orchid subjects” are most affected by disillusionment after graduation, since their professional field can extend very far and their lack of orientation when starting a career is accordingly very great.

A direct career entry in a renowned company naturally marks the “jackpot” at this point. As a rule, however, many students tend to make do with traineeships or low-paid internships. But how can you try to counteract this development?

With the following 6 tips I would like to try to find an answer to this, even though following this advice can of course not be a guarantee for an actual employment:

1. choose the right tray

What does it take to start a successful career?Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone talk you into your choice of subject.

The job opportunities after graduation are too few; the pay is usually poor in this industry” or “you can’ t really do anything with that in the end” are classic statements that are often used to sow doubts during the orientation phase between high school graduation and university studies. Get some good advice: Choose the specialty that suits you and in which you feel comfortable. If they study the favored subjects of others, you will very quickly find that they have to struggle through their studies. Changing the subject or even dropping out of the program could be the result of outside influence.

2. look for the right consultants

Parents, friends and acquaintances are unfortunately not always necessarily the best advisors.  In most cases, their studies date back several years or they have not been to a university. Many students suffer from motivation problems, pressure to perform or feel badly advised or even marginalized in their studies. Of course, in such situations you can turn to people you trust, but only if their tips are constructive and helpful! “Don’t be so silly, after all I’ve finished my studies too”; “You’ve started now, then finish it” or “You’ll just have to try harder” are no helpful tips that will take you further. Sometimes it is more helpful to turn to the mentors of the university, who create a personalized concept with which you can successfully complete your studies. Psychological counseling or academic advising can also be helpful points of contact at this point.

It is important that you are open and also have the willingness to be helped.

3. make mistakes!

Failed exams or term papers, too many parties with fellow students, changing jobs. Make all these experiences, because only then you can learn from your mistakes. You have studied 3 semesters and suddenly realized that the subject does not suit you at all? Then plan B is needed! Change your major or become a practitioner and try a dual degree program or even an apprenticeship.

Mistakes are okay, they move us forward and thus teach us to act better in a similar situation in the future.

We can only grow with our experience and if you don’t test yourself in your studies, new situations will quickly overwhelm you. Of course, I am not advocating that you should now intentionally let your studies slide! The goal is rather to make you aware of difficult situations and say explicitly: “That’s okay, you can handle that and you’ll come out of it stronger in the aftermath.” I can also take away a widespread fear on this subject at this point: Odd resumes are valued by recruiters just as much as straight ones, because they indicate an interesting and flexible personality. So don’t be afraid to go back the way sometimes or take a different one, because all these changes shape your character.

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4. lay the foundation for your career start during your studies

Studying a subject does not necessarily mean getting a good start in your career. You lay the foundation for your later entry into the professional world during your studies. Starting in your third bachelor’s semester, you should begin to think about a focused career strategy.

See if there is an opportunity for part-time internships, work at institutes in your university or in free enterprise/industry. Here, think carefully about what interests you and what direction your employment can take. Ten practitioners in different industries may bring you further in your orientation, but the potential employer may well interpret such diversity as youthful indecisiveness. Create a competence profile with your strengths, interests and skills and select the industries based on this.

One thing is certain: a good degree is important, but what is indispensable for the future employer is professional experience!

5. get involved beyond your studies

Volunteering for the start of a careerWhen you are somewhat settled in your studies and your financial situation is also stable, the penultimate point you should consider is to commit yourself beyond your studies and the associated professional activity. To anyone who says at this point, “How am I supposed to do that?”, I can only recommend that you take a look at working mothers and their diverse range of tasks. Most of the time we don’t even know what we are capable of until the situation calls for it. Of course, I do not want to make a plea for exhausting oneself to the point of exhaustion. Just take a look at the wide range of offers and try yourself out. Take further training courses at the university’s own Career Center or at the local Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK for short). Hone your language skills with a language course or get active in university politics by participating in committee work. The range of opportunities is diverse, individual and very broad, so you shouldn’t be short of things to do. Voluntary commitment is very highly valued by employers. It illustrates that you are willing to stand out from the crowd and go above and beyond what is asked of you. Use this attitude for a successful career start and become active!

6. network!

Vitamin B is indispensable in the professional world in order to be successful. No matter how good your academic record or how much you are committed. If you don’t network, you will manage to climb the ladder, but it will be much more difficult. Use the tips & tricks that experienced CEOs tell you and accept their support (for example, in the form of an invitation to a workshop). Recommendations from executives or invitations to the right events can open many doors for you. You can meet these executives at trade fairs, congresses or training events. Are you still unsure how to network properly and don’t know how best to start a conversation with such an executive? Learn
here (7 tips for successful networking)
, how to become the perfect networking professional.

Turn a rough diamond into a polished one

I hope my tips can make it a little easier for you to start your career and alleviate some of the existential angst after graduation. Studying a subject you love, surrounding yourself with people who are good for you (and with whom you network), not being afraid to make mistakes, and being involved professionally, as well as socially, will help you get started in the working world. By the end of your studies, a disillusioned diamond in the rough may, with a little more commitment, become a polished one. And employers recognize that, too.

About the author

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Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.

Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.

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