Uni vs school of life: Get outside the box

Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013
Victoria University graduation parade.

THE FUTURE: What's the best way to find a job after graduation?

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People with a degree seem to forget that it doesn't mean you'll automatically be employed by some fantastic company to change the world. You start at the bottom, just like everyone else.

I'm not sure where this preconception or sense of entitlement comes from, but graduates need to branch out. Apply for jobs outside your geographic area. Apply for jobs outside your degree. There are opportunities out there that we don't even know exist until we stumble across them. If you're not looking, you'll never find them.

I am an Auckland University graduate. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 2009 during the height of the recession. After three months of working as a waitress I applied for a graduate IT position with a company I had never heard of, doing a job I didn't know existed. About 820 other people applied for the same job. I had no chance and quite a few people seemed to delight in telling me this. Common phrases seemed to be, "you don't have the skills or the experience for that job" or "you have an Arts Degree, you can't do that job". It's this kind of narrow thinking that gets people caught in a loop.

In the end, I was one of two people selected for the role. I had no IT background and minimal computer skills. They picked me because they saw potential, not experience.

I've now been in IT for four years and I love it. I'm earning more than twice what the average BA graduate would expect to earn and have surprised everyone, especially my father, who thought that a BA was just a useless piece of paper.

The moral of the story is a degree should not teach you what to think, it should teach you how to think. Use some of those very expensive brains and think outside the box. If this means another country, then go, but don't give up on New Zealand just because you can't find your dream job. Chances are, you're not going to find it overseas either.

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