2017 graduates: what advice would you give 2018 graduates?

We asked University of Bristol graduates from the class of 2017 how their first year of graduate life has been. What’s been the best thing, what they’ve learned, what they wish they’d known, and what advice they would give to the class of 2018? Here’s what Hugh, James, Jenny, and Alex had to say:

Name: Hugh Kirby
Degree: BSc Geography
Current job: Commercial Banking Graduate at Lloyds Banking group

“I have to admit I was nervous leaving uni and entering the world of work, but it’s been much better than I thought! Despite the early mornings and having to squeeze a professional qualification and a social life in around work, I’ve learned so much. I’m currently on a Commercial Banking graduate scheme, which is nothing like my Geography degree, and despite feeling a bit out of my depth at first, I’ve found it really interesting to do something so different!

So I think that’s the first thing I’d say – don’t be scared to go into something completely new – you’ve got your degree to back you up and you’ll have transferable skills you didn’t even know you had. I’m also really fortunate that the scheme I’m on lets me rotate roles every 6 months so I’m getting exposure to different things and it keeps it fresh, but also puts me out of my comfort zone regularly which isn’t a bad thing! I do miss uni and effectively being my own boss but it’s also nice knowing I can switch off and not always have to think about deadlines.

If I were to leave uni with the knowledge I have now, the advice I would give myself would be find something that interests you (you’ll spend a lot of time at work so you might as well do something interesting), don’t be afraid to do something unrelated to your degree, get outside of your comfort zone as much as possible, find a job which you’ll learn a lot from, and most importantly there’s no substitute for a can-do attitude and a good work ethic! “

Name: James Moulder

Degree: Ancient History
Current job: Graduate Teaching Assistant and Boarding House tutor

“The biggest advice I would give to graduates is not to panic. Everyone worries about what job they are going to get and where they will end up, but the worst thing you can do is put pressure on yourself. I didn’t start applying for jobs until I had got my degree out of the way so that I could then focus solely on getting employed. Employers are always looking for people, it’s not like school where you must apply in July to start in September, jobs come up all the time you just need to know where to look.

The second biggest piece of advice I can give is that you need to be prepared to face rejection. Thousands of people will often be applying for the same job, with only a select few able to be selected. The key is to treat every application and every interview as a learning process. If you are rejected just think objectively and critically about what went well and what you can improve.

My third piece of advice is also linked to facing rejection. If you are applying for a job then it needs to be something which you are interested in or have a passion for. You are unlikely to find your absolute dream job where you love everything about it, but you need something about that job which really appeals to you so you can sell yourself and your desire for the role to your future employers.

So just remember: don’t panic, there is a job out there for you; treat rejection as a learning experience; and go for jobs which you are truly interested in. When it is late on a Monday evening you want to be doing a job which motivates you to go the extra mile, not a job which you think will make others happy.”

Name: Jenny Henshaw
Degree: BA (Hons) History
Current job: Intern for the National Trust and work part-time at Marks & Spencer

“I graduated with a 2:1 in Bristol last year with a degree in History. My career interests are solely in the pursuit of working in the heritage and cultural sector. I am currently living back home with my parents working weekends at M&S and as an intern for National Trust whilst learning to drive as well. My advice to those interested in also choosing this career and this could also be applied to any other job interest is:

  • Don’t panic and throw yourself into job applications and apply for hundreds. You won’t like the amount of rejections and lack of responses you get and this will affect your confidence. It is extremely competitive out there so try and have something that stands out in your application.
  • Remember you are only in your 20s, you are young and most don’t get their dream job until 1 year, 2 years even 5 down the line so don’t put pressure on yourself.
  • You have transferable skills. More skills that you realise. Multi-tasking, dealing with deadlines and other pressures, organisation, timekeeping and a keen eye for detail.
  • Don’t be put off by unpaid work. Volunteering and unpaid internships are a good starting point and they look really good on your CV. Jobs specifically tailored for graduates come once in a blue moon so be prepared to wait for the right one to come along.
  • Don’t be disheartened by moving back home. Remember it won’t be forever. It is surprising to hear how many graduates move back home as a result of the job situation and housing as well. Things are not easy for young people today.
  • SAVE SAVE SAVE!!! Chances are that the job you want is elsewhere! Get the job first then the place to live. Maybe take a year either 2 to save up some money to make it a smooth transition from one place to the other. Don’t be too proud to work in retail or in a cafe or a bar, most employers will like the fact you are actually working. Remember it might not be your dream job but it will fund your dream job!”

Name: Alex Ogilvie
Degree: Masters in Engineering Mathematics
Current role: Director and Data Scientist at Miminal 

“Since graduating last July, myself and two other Engineering Maths graduates from UoB have started up our own business. Miminal provides bespoke data science services to companies looking to leverage the power of data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning but lack the in-house capacity and/or expertise. It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey and a massive learning curve, picking up skills in business management, finance, marketing and legal to name a few. In the last year our focus has been on expanding our network, building our reputation and taking on clients. We are now working with multiple clients, are well recognised in the Bristol tech community and are building a reputation of delivering a high quality service.

After graduating, I never could have imagined what would happen over the next 12 months. It has demonstrated to me that there are many more opportunities out there than initially meets the eye, and if you work hard at something and put the effort into it then you can make it a success. My top tip for any recent graduate is to make sure you stay in contact with people. You never know where your next opportunity will come from and building up a good network of like minded people will help you wherever you will go. We would not be where we are today without the level of support we have received from friends, the university and people we have met along the way.

To find out more about Miminal, visit https://mimin.al

Don’t forget that the Careers Service is still here for you for up to three years after graduation, wherever you are in the world. Take a look at the BristolGrad2018 website for more information.