How to make the transition from student to professional

If you’re about to graduate, now is an excellent time to start carving out your career identity as you step into the working world.

Moving from student to professional starts by shifting your mindset and building a strong personal brand that shows employers who you are and what you have to offer.

The first step to making this change is self-reflection. This is about having a clear idea of your interests and goals and your strengths, skills and achievements. Employers are looking for people who have a genuine interest and passion for a specific role or industry, so make sure you have a solid story to tell when explaining your interests.

Moreover, they’ll want to know precisely what skills you have, so take the time to identify the ones you’ve built up so far. Picture yourself as a product of more than just your academic studies. Many of your skills will likely come from extra-curricular activities, volunteering, part-time work, internships or placements.

Once you’ve completed your self-reflection, it’s time to craft a memorable professional pitch. Your pitch summarises who you are as a professional that you can use to introduce yourself to others. It should be concise yet impactful and, in a few sentences, explain who you are, what relevant skills and experience you have, what makes you unique and what you want to achieve.

When you have an idea of your professional pitch, it’s time to send your message out into the world. The essential tools: any professional needs an up-to-date CV and LinkedIn profile. Your CV should include the following sections: your contact information, a personal profile – which you can see as an abridged version of your pitch – educational background, relevant work experience and top skills.

Your LinkedIn should include much of the same information and is an expansive and up-to-date portfolio of your skills. To use it to its full potential, though, make sure you start connecting with others and regularly engage with your network. Check out more LinkedIn tips here.

And finally – don’t compare yourself to others.

Some of your peers may be lucky enough to land their ideal job the second they graduate, but that’s not the case for everyone. We all take different routes in life, so trust in your path. Your first job may not be what you’ve always dreamed of, but the reality is that you’ll be working for a significant portion of your life, and there will be many opportunities along the way. Use every job as a chance to develop your skills and experience, build your professional network and get a clearer idea of what you want (and don’t want) for the future.

A large part of how others see you comes from how you see and present yourself to the world. If the jump from student to career professional feels daunting, remind yourself of what you achieved so far: you’ve worked hard for your degree, and your combination of skills and interests that make you unique.

So, keep your cool, start putting yourself out there and telling your story; the more you do it, the more confident you’ll become. And remember to trust your journey!

Noho ora mai!

Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers
  • Watch this: Common challenges of transitioning into work – Expert advice from Emma Leigh Roberts (Executive Coach)
  • How to prepare for work – Take the self-paced tutorial designed to help you start your new job off on the right foot.
  • Search the latest jobs targeted at students and graduates on the UC Jobs board NZUni Talent

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