We have our fair share of enquiries from fresh graduates seeking career direction from us over the past few years.
My own daughter is also a third-year overseas university student now and is rather clueless as to what she wants to do after graduation.
Gone were the days when young people could simply graduate and get a job pretty soon – some could even land a job before they graduate!
Nowadays, unless you are a A-class student, chances are you will need to job search for a while before landing that elusive job.
Many fresh graduates will opt to work for the civil service for a 2-year contract before they decide what to seriously do next.
Its a good interim measure and one that allows you to chalk up some valuable work experience and yet you get paid for doing that! Talking of best of both world…
I have list down seven tips for my own third-year undergraduate daughter or any other soon-to-graduate young people to look out for positive direction in their career path:-
1. Know what you want to do
Many fresh graduates we met over the years are rather clueless as to what they want for themselves – this is understandable as they have spent many years pursuing an education and aceing their exams rather than anything else.
There is hardly any time left to find out what interest them or make them tick.
It is my hope that my own daughter and our young people take some time to pursue their hobbies during the school holidays to explore more of what interest them than attending educational classes that only expand their IQ further but not their EQ.
More and more employers are questioning the inter-personal and mangement skills of our fresh graduates – they are good in their work alone but often find it difficult to work with other people in a team project.
Leadership in a company also involves the ability to talk and convince a group of people to follow after a direction that you set out and people often prefer to follow after someone who is good at persuasive communication.
Besides the ability to communicate effectively, its also good to find out what you like and dislike – what make you tick and what don’t.
People who are older often look for jobs that interest them – something that they could find their passion in and its often not all about the money.
Nevertheless, this is something that most young people would not be able to identify with as they equate a good salary with their achievement and self-worth and its fine.
Unfortunately, they often could not really find out, by the time they hit their twenties, what they really like to do until very much later in life.
Young people who are thinking of starting a family also needs the right salary to provide for their family and often times its not all about work passion and career satisfaction.
Its no secret though that people tend to stay on longer in a job when what they do is interesting and that they are passionate about the stuff they commit to from Monday to Friday.
If you drag your way to work regularly every morning for more than a year then its time to re-examine your interest component for that piece of job.
Doing what you like requires you to first know what you want for yourself.
2. Know who you are
Its important to know who you are before committing to a work contract though fresh graduates have the luxury of trying out a few jobs first before they really know what job suits them for the long haul.
A salesman job needs someone who is able to speak and listen well and a quiet person may not be able to handle the work well.
Its good to know yourself well so you now what kind of job suits you better. However, I am all for fresh graduates trying out a few jobs first before settling down with one for the long term.
I am sure a few internships can do the trick here though the pay may suck for a while during internship.
Too many people take on a job simply for survival sake and in today’s jungle market its understandable but if my daughter could try to find out more about her own strengths and weaknesses,I am sure that she can save himself much heartache by doing what really is within her personal strengths rather than weaknesses.
Too many of us are stucked in jobs that do not really utilise our strengths and capabilities.
I was working in the civil service for close to 11 years before making a belated decision to venture out to the private sector and it was my personal regret that I didn’t came out much earlier.
I could function better in the private sector as its less regimental and more dynamic – something that is appealing to my outgoing personality.
By the time I left the civil service, I was already in my early thirties and the best part of my dynamic twenties were gone.
Of course, in today’s turbulent job market, most fresh graduates would prefer a stable job working for the government but is that what you really want for your life?
So its good to know who you are so that you know what kind of work suit you.
3. Know who can help you
When I was still in my twenties while working for the civil service, I really wish there is someone who can point me the way, my darling daughter.
I was living aimlessly for a while and the early demise of my own father robbed me of someone whom I could speak to when I am in a limbo about my own career needs.
back then, besides drawing a reasonably sound salary, there was really nothing in the job that appeals to me – there was a lack of challenge and oopm in the job that I was doing.
Its all auto-gear by year three and even though I have asked for a departmental change at year five because the previous job scope was really boring, the stagnanted feeling still haunted me for many years. It was like I was wasting my time over there.
Career coaching was an unheard of preposition then and I am glad that nowadays most local universities offer career coaching to fresh graduates perplexed at their own vocational choices after graduation.
A mentor is also crucial here as sometimes you need to walk through your needs and wants with someone who is able to provide a listening ear.
I wish there is someone who did that for me when I was struggling as a young adult – my dad passed away when I was about 23 years old and it was an uphill task having to hold the fort for my family back then.
I have to grow up fast suddenly and it was tough initially – I hope that I can be that person who will be able to walk through the turbulent young adult years for you.
4. Know your own timing
Timing is very important when we are looking out for the right job and sometimes opportunity knocks but once – you ought to learn to seize the day sometimes my darling daughter.
Learn to take some risk in your life especially if its a unique job offer that comes your way and more so if it is something that you are not comfortable with.
We tend to stick with our comfort zone too much when something uncomfortable may really be what we really need to progress further for our own life.
We have spoken to many people who have rejected jobs that require them to step out of their comfort zone and often it involves an overseas posting.
I remember venturing to a overseas posting 7 years ago teaching business English to Chinese students in a faraway province that I have not heard of before.
I was in my 40s then and had nothing to lose as I was unhappy in my job and need a way out to something fresh.
I half-suspected that it was a mid life crisis bout and getting away was part of my own personal solution to resolve the unrest stirring constantly within me.
Though the contract only lasted a year, the adventure was exhilirating and I learnt alot from the short overseas stint.
More importantly, it smashed up quite alot of my own personal hiccup like I couldn’t survive abroad on my own and my self-efficacy improved tremendously – that I could do it if I put my soul and effort into it.
Lets not kid ourselves – a stint abroad is not easy especially when you are married and you struggle with all kinds of personal inhibitions but if you dare to take the plunge there is everything to gain from that venture.
Singapore is just too safe and comfortable for one to experience anything that is beyond the ordinary and for many of us sometimes a stint abroad is the hard kick in the right direction so that we can grow inside.
Too many fresh graduates whom we have met are not struggling with a lack of knowledge or skills but self-confidence – they always feel that they could not do it as they lack a strong belief in themselves.
They tend to speak alot about their own weaknesses than their strengths and capabilities so much so that the interviewers have no faith in them doing the job.
Most interviewers find that the Europeans, Indians and Americans tend to fare better in interviews than our locals as they ooze self-confidence and believe in themselves alot.
So if you are offer a chance to work overseas my darling daughter, calculate the risk and if its manageable go for it – it may just change your life as it has changed mine many years before.
5. Know your own self limit
The latest SOS suicide statistics showed that those in the 21-29 age group has indicated an increase in their suicidal tendencies. The next highest group are those in the 50-59 age category.
While venturing to curve out your own career my darling daughter, its good also to realise that many fresh graduates may be too idealistic and want the whole world to themselves – as soon as possible.
In today’s instant-result economy, we want everything fast and patience and perseverance are the very last things any fresh graduate can identify with these days.
Young people want to earn X number of salary by a certain year and they demand a promotion even if they don’t really deserve it.
Job hopping is our latest professional disease and most young graduates have work at least three jobs by the time they graduated within the five-year period.
I am sure that many of those suicides that hit our young adults these days is a result of failed relationship which dashed the romantic hopes of a few but a good many may have being professional failures – failure to get that dreamed promotion or cherished posting.
Though its good to have all kinds of goals and plan after graduation its also wise to know one’s own limit and try to plan within one’s ability – not everything is defined by how much money we earn and we ought not to let one failure defines our whole life.
Ending one’s life is just a very myopic view of avoiding a situation that doesn’t goes our way.
6. Know how to slow down
We live in a very fast-paced society my darling daughter whereby everything is done at a push of the button – if you need money go to the ATM machine and if you need to buy a movie ticket just punch into your handphone apps.
Fresh graduates out to work in the society need to learn to slow down and constantly ask themselves – am I doing alright, am I happy with my own personal achievement, do I need to change course abit so that I can live better?
We ought to constantly check ourselves so that we don’t live life aimlessly and on auto-gear.
Moreover, we also have the unenviable record of having the highest number of work hours in any first world economy and there is no sign that we will slow down.
Though our young people are well rewarded – its at the expense of their mental and physical health.
It is no wonder that before they reach 30 years old, our young people are checking out the migration route as they realise that they can’t go on like this – beating themselves out at the work place till 9pm daily and not expecting any backlash on their health and psyche.
So I hope that you my darling daughter will learn how to slow down and exercise regularly.
If you have to quit from your job to save yourself, do it – nothing else matters much if you suffer mentally or physically from the stress at work especially when it affects your sleep pattern and psyche.
Its just not worth it.
I have personally quit from two jobs because of the adverse politics within the work place and the mundane nature of the job.
7. Know how to give back
Before starting to chalk up those precious hours at the work place my darling daughter, its good for you to have a habit of giving back to the less fortunate and vulnerable.
When we give back to the society, we feel good and those altruistic feelings will do wonders for us.
Studies have shown that charitable acts improve our own personal well being and have in fact lessen those depressive feelings within us.
We have all along groom a society that is rather achieving in nature and sometimes we become self-centred in our own personal pursuit – often ignoring the needs of the less fortunate.
We turn a blind eye to the down trodden and over time, we turn hardened and cold.
So take time to help out in organisations that reach out to the less fortunate. There should be many around these days.
You can also volunteer with us if you are keen – we need tutors, befrienders, drivers and counsellors.
You can do so regularly or one-off but for tutors and befrienders, we prefer that you sign up with us for at least a year to ensure continuity.
I have shared seven ways to look out for positive direction for my darling daughter and other fresh graduates and many are gleaned from my own personal experience.
If you have any enquiries, please write to us at [email protected], we love to hear from you.
Written by: Gilbert Goh