Moving Toward a Workplace-Ready Workforce
It’s an age-old catch-22 for fresh graduates: how can you get some work experience for your resume if many employers shut the door in your face in favour of more experienced jobseekers? In addition, as a fresh graduate you might not have the best idea of what kind of profession or career you’d be best suited for.
Getting yourself ready for the working world is thus a very big challenge for fresh graduates, and one that should be addressed well before you graduate from university, according to Mark Coggins, founder and CEO of M2 Academy. He adds, "Students who pursue a tertiary education are essentially investing their money in a degree, with an eye toward securing a great job in the future and a degree must justify this outlay."
Hitting the Ground Running
Above all, employers want graduates who not only possess the relevant technical skills, but who also demonstrate 'soft' skills such as teamwork, initiative and the ability to communicate effectively – skills that will enable them to survive the harsh transition from school to the workplace. Job interviewers may thus employ a battery of tests, scenario problem-solving and other assessments to ascertain if the candidate indeed possesses these attributes, but these checks are not fool-proof by any means.
Much like how a degree certification is a vote of confidence on your tertiary education, a reputable certification that guarantees that the individual is well-versed in these 'soft' skills can be an invaluable asset for both employers and jobseekers. Therefore, M2 Academy focuses on developing such 'soft' skills including the ability to think in both critical and creative fashions, the ability to work autonomously and as part of a team and the ability to manage one’s own thought processes and emotional state. Taken together, these skills are great for helping fresh graduates take on their new positions without having to be mollycoddled, something that employers are often loathe to do. Fresh graduates with good ‘soft’ skills will also be able to cope with any significant upheaval in their job and handle criticism by both co-workers and superiors in a positive manner.
Know What You Want to Do
Preparing students who are ready for the workplace requires good exposure and good guidance. To cite an example, M2 Academy students get the benefit of receiving relevant industry knowledge and exposure to valuable career opportunities through the school’s relationship with renowned multinational companies, such as Microsoft, Bloomberg, McCann Worldwide, Marriott and OCBC Frank, to name but just a few. More importantly, it is imperative that students who want to be workplace-ready receive help in deciding which profession or sector they might be best suited for.
For most 18-year-olds at a crossroads in their life, their personal preferences and beliefs will naturally undergo considerable change as they find their way in the world. In addition, many graduates eventually find themselves working in a position wholly unrelated to their education – in fact, a 2013 CareerBuilder study found that almost half — 47 percent — of college-educated workers’ first job after graduating was not related to their college major.
Experienced industry experts who have been there and done that can provide invaluable guidance. At M2 Academy a student may have the opportunity to pair with a career 'mentor' who is able to offer students personalised, relevant career advice and can not only help students realise their goal of entering the workforce on the right foot, but also shape the entire direction of an individual’s future career – a productive, fulfilling and rewarding career.
At the end of the day, today’s tertiary students can ill-afford to blindly embark on the paper chase and pursue a degree while hoping to land a good job upon graduation if they do not take the time to consider what employers are truly looking for in a jobseeker. Proper preparation (such as the avenues mentioned above) can go a long way in justifying the hefty fee of a university education and help you land your dream first job!
Do you think undergraduates should actively prepare themselves for the workplace? Share with us in the comment box below!
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