Advice 

Post-Graduate Job Hunting

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This summer I helped out on a programme in a which a few sixth form students (aged 17/18) came down to our offices to partake in some work experience. A few of the students went on to add me on LinkedIn afterwards and as some are quite active in their posting, I feel like through the wonderful world of social media, I’m able to keep up with how they’ve all been doing in the aftermath from the comfort of my own home.

Being able to see what some of them are up to has been a daily reminder to me of how early people are getting started when it comes to the job market. One thing I can tell you for sure is that I definitely was not the same at age 17/18, my main concern was getting into a good uni and getting good grades. I probably didn’t know what a LinkedIn even was at the time and I hated thinking about what I would one day want to do with my career as the thought of it just terrified me. I very much lived in the “now” – I felt that getting As and A*s was in my control – but thinking about why I was getting the As and A*s? That drew the line at too much thinking.
 

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Eventually, once I started university, I faced the reality of jobs that I had never previously wanted to face. I applied for some internships and a few years down the line – here I am in my current job, working in Investment Banking and starting to feel… old. However, as we push through the start of the year, and apps season kicks of (or, to be honest, is well underway), I wanted to share a few tips for university students about how you can bridge the university-work gap, and make the transition as smooth as possible. I had the offer for my current job already at the start of my 3rd year of university which made the year a lot less stressful and meant that I could focus more on getting the actual grades than learning about M&A deals.
 

1. Start early

I remember after I had picked up my A Level results I received a message inviting me to a networking event for BME students about to enter university and it was all about careers. I declined because I thought – why would I be thinking about my career already? I haven’t even stepped foot into university yet, can’t they leave me alone?

But the truth is, these sorts of events are continuously being moved further back when it comes to age. Some firms start scouting for future employees to add to their roster list at early as 17/18. For example, my younger brother interned at an investment bank in Year 13 – age 18. My boyfriend received a scholarship (plus some internships) from an investment bank that he applied for in Year 13 – age 18. If you’re starting to make moves towards your career once you graduate – age 21 – whew, it’s not too late, but you certainly are late to the party.

I officially started applying for internships in my first year of university. I found that after I had applied and actually gotten something to put on my CV, just the name on my CV made it easier for me to get other opportunities as other firms would pick up on it and invite me in to interview. Whilst “internships” at age 17/18 are usually pretty flimsy in terms of what you’re actually learning and doing, they do do wonders for your CV; also you gain good contacts from being in these firms and surrounded by all these people, which makes it easier down the line. If you’re lucky, some firms will keep you on if they’re happy with how you performed during your internship, which could also lead to a full time role down the line.
 

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2. Willingness to go unpaid

Now that I’ve been working for a few years, I know the general vibe/feel when a CV is picked up and 5 great firms are on that CV already. There’s a huge advantage no doubt compared to a CV with no practical experience. If you now also consider that some of the people you are competing with have already completed a 2-week internship at a top firm by the time they’ve even taken a step onto that uni campus (point #1), you quickly start to really recognise just how important experience is. It can be frustrating at times trying to get experience, that requires experience – and you think, how can you possibly get experience if nobody even gives me the chance to get experience?

The topic of an unpaid internship is a tricky one, especially because automatically there are certain groups of people that simply can’t afford to do this. That said, I think there should be some willingness to go unpaid in particular if the internship is short term, and within an hour or so of where you live. If it’s going to be longer than a few weeks, and some internships even expect you to travel internationally with no sort of allowance or pay… then you may have to rethink. The more (thoughtful) names you have on your CV – the better. So take the chance when you can (but make sure also that the firm is not just taking liberties).
 

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3. Getting your foot in the door: beggars can’t be choosers

I will take the world of banking as an example, just because that is my industry. I remember when I started off my applications, I shortlisted the firms I wanted to work at, maybe I picked 3 or 4 out of many, many global investment banks. My first interview, I didn’t get. However, I did get my second. I was very lucky. But, as soon as I didn’t get that first interview is when I realised I can’t be so picky to have such a small collection of firms I wanted to apply to when I literally had no proper banking experience. I needed to just stick my foot in the door, to literally hold it open at it’s hinges, and once I got into the party – maybe then I could start swirling my finger around and picking my favourite flavour.

I think when it comes to applications in your second year or third year, you just need to pick the industry that you’re the most interested in and apply everywhere. If I take the banking industry – then I’m talking the US banks, the European banks, bulge bracket, non bulge bracket, French banks and heck, even throw in a couple Canadian banks and Asian banks in there too! Depending on what offers you get, you can then start to make your pick. If you limit your options to only those at the very top, and you get none, and then application season moves on – then that’s really it for another year. During that year, your peers may not be working at #1, but maybe some got #15. You might have wanted #1 and ended up with 0. But I can guarantee you that getting to #1 one day and starting in 15th place is much easier than starting… not even in the competition!
 

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4. Giving up periods of time

You’ve got to really put all of yourself into it, especially as things continue to get more competitive and firms continue to expand their age pool of poaching. When I did my penultimate year internship, I really treated it like a 10 week interview, because that’s what it was. I would work so hard during the week and it was so mentally taxing always being on edge that I would be too exhausted on the weekend to even make any weekend plans.

I think in the lead up to getting a job, and doing the aforementioned task of “getting your foot in the door”, you’re going to need to make major sacrifices when it comes to time. Whether that be giving up periods of your summer holidays to study for interviews, missing out on a night out because you have an interview the next day or even spending your entire summer completely and utterly devoted to the internship you’re undertaking. My dad always says, if you do the right thing when you need to, it makes life simpler in the future. If you take the time to do what you need to achieve things now, it just makes things simpler down the line.
 

5. Focus on your own journey

One big piece of advice I’ve got is to always focus on your own journey. The university I went to was really super focused on internships, jobs and certain industries. It could be such that if you didn’t get that 10-weeker during the summer or if you didn’t already have a job offer at the start of your third year, you could feel super inadequate. But in my opinion, it’s always important to focus on the long term goal. For example, maybe you did an internship is banking in your second year but decided you wanted to be a lawyer at the end of it. That would tag on a few more years vs. your friends that had their offer to start the next year – you may have to do one or two more internships post graduation, do a GDL conversion course and then finally start working. But in my opinion, that’s the longer and better term view. We have a lot of years on this earth (IJN, anyway), so best not to spend that trying to keep up with everyone around you.

*PS – hope you enjoyed these unrelated fitness pics. By the way, you can use the code SKYLISH15 for 15% off at ICIW (sponsored)

Jan 20 2020 at 8:59 pm   ·   Leave a Comment   ·   Posted Under Advice






Lifestyle 

2019 in Words and 2020 Resolutions

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As per every year – I always like to reflect on the year just gone and make some goals for the year ahead. This is going to be a lengthy one, so I’ve got some links to navigate below and… is it too cliche and totally not me at all if I say grab a cup of tea? Probably (I don’t even drink tea).
 

Navigating this post

 

Breaking down the decade

2010: GCSE prep starts; I opened up my own webdesign shop and it went very well
2011: I achieved 9 A*s and 2 As in my GCSE exams
2012: I got my first job, it was in a cafe! But I quit after a month… I had my first proper crush! But he turned out to be a bit of a player. I applied for Head Girl! But only made it participation stage and got really bitter… it was an emotional year
2013: I got into LSE! And walked away with 3As at A Level
2014: My first first year at university. I moved out to Central London, partied a ton, and met my current boyfriend Levi
2015: I had a HUGE friendship bust up. But learned a lot about myself and self development
2016: I graduated with a 2:1 and started my first full time job in investment banking. I moved to East London with a friend/colleague where I’ve been ever since
2017: I started to take my health & fitness seriously. But comparison also became the thief of joy in my life. I became over consumed with trying to prove to the world that I was doing more than just fine since graduating
2018: I became a landlord! I started working on a business and I became a frequent traveller, getting to see more of the world than I ever had before. I was also featured on BBC & Gymshark – my most exciting features to date
2019: …See below
 

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Start of decade (late 09/2010) vs. end of decade (recent)

 

What went down in 2019

I travelled 19 times to 12 different countries
I sometimes can’t even believe how much I travel these days, sometimes I look at my calendar that I could end up travelling every week for a month. I didn’t go on my first holiday until I was 8 years old, and from then on I’d travel an absolute maximum of once a year. I was never a traveller.

A lot of my travel these days is due to work, most of it actually, but I’m also able to take a lot of personal trips just due to the fact that I’m older, on a stable salary and have no major responsibilities. My favourite trip this year was to Croatia, travelling with Levi is always the best and our summer holidays are always a dream; but very close up was New York, my first cross-continental trip in 3 years (it was for work, but I extended the trip for “play”), I had lots of fun, ate lots of junk food, sipped lots of alcohol and spent too much money. Barcelona with my OG girls earlier in the year was tons of fun – one of my closest friends I went with I’d never even been away with before, and we’ve been friends for 13 years! And, of course, we can’t forget Paris, where me and Levi celebrated 5 years together. My next trip (booked this week) will be skiing! I haven’t skied in >1 year so will be nice to get to the alps again and take on my very basic green slopes.

 

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Croatia

 
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Paris

 
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New York

 

I opened up my own fitness blog which grew to 3,500+ followers in 8 months
I would have never guessed this time last year that I’d end up making my own fitness page on Instagram. It had certainly been an idea that had flown across my mind now and again but I thought for me to create my own fitness page when I don’t have abs and an obnoxiously tiny waste would just be some absolute audacity. Anyhow, I decided to go for it because I came to realise that most fitness influencers don’t actually look like what they seem to look like anyways – so why should that intimidate me? And plus… I just felt like it… so I did it! I’m not getting any younger. It feels so refreshing to have a new project to focus on (I’m one of those people that likes new challenges and new things to dig my teeth into), at the time of writing I have 3.5k supporters, since starting my page 8 months ago – which is amazing!
 

 

I redesigned Skylish.co.uk and rethought my vision
For a lot of the year, I lost both motivation and direction over here. Blogging isn’t really what it used to be – most bloggers have shifted to Instagram as their main platform and it’s not as easy to come across thoughtful pieces these days (not easy, but certainly possible). This was one thing that niggled away at my motivation, along with trying to do 100 things at once and also forgetting what I even want to really portray over here – was it fancy outfits from PLT? Or real thoughtful pieces (as I say, pieces written by a women in her 20s for women like me)? Mid-year, I paid a PeoplePerHour worker to implement this new design for me. Whilst I can code up a website myself, having not followed the world of coding since 2012… my skills were a bit outdated. Once this new design was implemented, I wrote a whole post detailing my new vision for Skylish – refocusing, taking off some pressure (bringing it back to just being a hobby), and making my focus for the blog fit me, as I am right now, a little better again. Whilst the blogging landscape has changed, I do want to shout out a few of my favourite blogs – The Little Plum, Beth Sandland, Fashion Slave – where I can still settle for some thoughtful pieces now and again.
 

My confidence took another leap
There have been many years over my life that I’ve set gaining confidence as a goal for the following year – if you grew up shy… you’d get it! This was actually one of the rare years I didn’t, I guess I felt I was on a good trajectory and I’ve seen it come through this year. Whilst I’m not the loudest in the group, a lot of newfound confidence has just been due to being forced in different situations. Such as – flying abroad alone and having the host a client without the support of my boss. Having to present my views off guard to a room of people. Or, just being older and coming across new people, everyday, that are usually very different to myself, and learning that I’m able to hold a conversation with people from all different walks of life and also all ages (unless you’re just too dry, to be honest). Recently I found myself in a situation which called on confidence, and instead of feeling nervous before hand, I just said to myself “you’ve got this, to be honest”, and well… I did. I look forward to continue to run down this road of development in 2020.
 

Honourable mentions

 

 

2020 in lessons

In 2020, I learned to take the good from the bad: This year, I learned how to extrapolate the good from situations that may have left me feeling… less than good. We will all run into bad situations sometimes, and sometimes these situations will last for prolonged periods of time, but having the capacity to recognise what’s positive from these situations makes them easier to deal with (is that ambiguous enough? πŸ˜‰ )
 

In 2020, I learned even more about focusing on myself: This time I wasn’t comparing myself to my uni peers or people that I “know about” (for example), but… to people I sit amongst daily. And I’ll leave that on periodt. I overcame this greatly as the year went on, it literally felt like I had bulldozed through a door holding me back suddenly at some point in the year, and I hadn’t even realised when exactly. In a nutshell, I went from feeling like a bag of crap to feeling amazing once I decided to only worry about myself. Learning from others is good – but comparing yourself too much to others and focusing on what they’re doing is simply unproductive.
 

In 2020, I learned to breath a bit: I went through a stage in 2018 where I’d feel guilty even going out for a drink as I felt like if I wanted to be successful, I needed to spend every last hour working on some sort of side business. It’s one of the reasons I’d stay up until 1am and get 5 hours of sleep, but be so exhausted that whatever I was working on until 1am would be of poor quality. Now I still am a believer in the side hustle, and I know that I am still quite a productive person, but I’ve also learned to relax more. I’ve been going out more, enjoying myself more because please, I’m still young. I’ve been sleeping in sometimes, and I haven’t been feeling guilty about any of it. I do want to turn up the gears on productivity a tad again in 2020 – but I’m just fine tuning and getting everything right.
 

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Revisiting my 2019 resolutions

1. Do more with my money – I want become more savvy when it comes to the art of investing
This came to fruition in a different way than expected. At some point during the year, I sat down and decided I was going to invest in a fund (actually, I still plan to do this but by way of using the app Nutmeg soon). I asked my older brother what funds he had invested in and he actually recommended I look to pay down my student loan instead. I actually pay 6% on my student loan (in my world of work that would be considered a high yielding bond from a risky issuer… basically, 6% is h’alot), and given uncertainty in the global economy right now (given trade wars, Brexit, global growth concerns…) and that many people are expecting a minor recession soon, it seemed more sensible to put my money towards paying down a loan with huge interest (or – at least kicking off this process first). So, this is what I started to do this year. I put my money to work, but not how I thought I would when I first wrote this resolution.
 
2. Focus more on myself and what I’m up to – stop comparing myself to others
It’s funny to see this on my resolutions list as this literally isn’t even a concern of mine anymore at this point in time. I used to compare myself to others all the time – my blog, my instagram, my life, my relationship… but I can honestly say this isn’t the case anymore in the slightest. I think I’ve reached a point where I really am, for once… just happy with who I am and what I’m achieving (this doesn’t mean I’m getting too comfortable though πŸ˜‰ )
 
3. Seek out opportunities more vigilantly – stop waiting for things to always come to me (if you don’t ask – you don’t get)
I think this one needs to be rolled over to next year. I started off on a good stride on this point at the start of the year, but definitely got lazy once the first half was done.
 
4. Make strides with my career
This point may have seemed quite vague, but it came to fruition – again in a different way than I had anticipated. I moved up from Analyst to Associate in 2019, and in this second half of the year, I feel like I made some really good strides just in my job itself, I’ve definitely had some great opportunities.
 
5. Take 1-2 cross continental trips
My cross continental trip this year was to the states – I spent a week in NYC back in Apr/May time, 40% work and 60% leisure. It had been a hot sec since I’d been out of Europe – so was good to find myself across the Atlantic again.
 
6. This sleep thing – it needs some tweaks
I was sleeping barely 5 hours a day this time last year, at times due to pure procrastination, but what forced me to finally make the necessary tweak was early morning gym sessions. Since I wake up at 6:00am to get ready to workout, I just need the sleep, and that forces me to sleep earlier. I go to bed around 10:30-11:00pm these days during the week, which gives me 7-7.5 hours of suweeet sleep.

 

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My 2020 resolutions

And finally – what I want to achieve in 2020. Resolutions aren’t for everyone… but personally, I love setting them!

1. Put a lid on my irritation – I get heated really quickly (I calm down just as quickly too). Basically – I want to learn to breath though the bullshit better.
2. Start using my weekends more productively again.
3. Continue to pay down my student loan significantly but also put some money somewhere where it can be managed to make a return.
4. Get back to more frequent blogging.
5. Again, stop waiting for opportunities, put in the work to grab opportunities more frequently.

 

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And – with that hugely lengthy post… I say, Happy New Year! Looking back on my year in review posts from recent years, I can say that I’ve been on a good trajectory. I haven’t really had a really crappy year since 2015. That’s not to say that my years don’t have crap periods – that happens every year really, but I think my mind is in a stronger place such that I am able to dig myself out of the dirt and readjust better than I was able to 4-5 years ago. What can I say, my life is good. But it can be even better ;), so here’s to 2020!

Jan 1 2020 at 1:07 pm   ·   Leave a Comment   ·   Posted Under 2019 Rewind, Lifestyle