Tuesday, 5 September 2017

How I became Career Ready (Nicholas Anthony)

There comes a stage where every graduate researcher comes to the earth-shattering realisation that their La Trobe research will not last forever and that, one day in the not too distant future, they will need to find a job.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I mean, you do only sign up for three years but, somehow, it does.

Following this shouldn't-be-so-shocking realisation, the thoughts start to flood in:

Photo by Mounzer Awad on Unsplash
What do I want to do?
Where do I want to do it?
How does one actually get a job?
Why hasn’t anyone prepared me for this?!

Unfortunately, at this stage, you’re well and truly an adult and it’s your job to prepare yourself.

Fortunately, however, La Trobe knows we need a little help, and has a service known as “Career Ready”.

Now, I know that a name like that sounds like standard university spin targeted at undergrads to look good on posters, and put bums on seats. In reality, though, it’s not spin, and it's for researchers, too!

Even better, as the name suggests, it is a service to get you career ready!

Why am I telling you about all of this? Because I went through the all of the above and - SPOILER ALERT - I went to a Career Ready consultation and loved it!


Now, I'll be honest. I wasn’t exactly a willing participant. I was thoroughly enjoying my freak-out, lamenting my future as an unemployed, overeducated paperweight and complaining to anyone unlucky enough to be in the same room as me. Fortunately, I had a friend who grew tired of my complaints, and happily told me to “quit my yapping and do something about it”.

Under this duress, I made an appointment, which can be done in a matter of minutes online or through an app… 2017, am I right! I received my confirmation and was told to bring anything I wanted to talk through in the meeting. For me, this was a cover letter and CV that I was quite proud of, and a listing of two jobs I thought I was interested in.

Walking into my meeting, I was greeted by my advisor, and a pile of information that they had found about me online (LinkedIn, Research Gate, etc.). I was asked why I was there, to which the answer was simply “I don’t know what I am doing”. We had a chat about my previous experience, my interests, what my research was, etc. Basically, a whole lot of background about me so that they had a feeling for who I was and what I thought I was after.

From this, my advisor said something that has stuck with me. I was told that I had a "tyranny of choice" and was better off making any decision and seeing how it goes, rather than freaking out over multiple options (overseas, local, academia, research, industry…). Now, this was the perfect advice for me. I was freaking out over having too many options and the minute I decided, at random, to cross some off the list, it made life a whole lot easier.

We spent the rest of the time looking over my cover letter and CV, and working out some general themes to respond to the job adverts I’d brought along. Turns out that my documents needed a bit of polish, and I walked away with a fistful of notes about how to improve the way I was presenting myself to potential employers. I also walked away with a better appreciation for what employers are looking for, and how to read between the lines in job adverts so that I can sell myself well.

My Career Ready consultation was one of the most useful services I’ve used at La Trobe. It cut through a lot of my confusion surrounding how to apply for jobs, and provided me with confidence that I was someone worth hiring.

I highly recommend that everybody, regardless of your stage or what you think you want, attend one. Who knows what will get you that job!

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Nicholas Anthony completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a Master of Nanotechnology at La Trobe University. 

He is currently completing a PhD in physics within the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Sciences (LIMS) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Molecular Imaging.

Following his Career Ready consultation, Nick went on to get a job.

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