Moving from education to work can be difficult. Career specialist Simon North suggests how you can make the transition easier.
1. Start the process early
The earlier you start the better – there’s probably no point at which it is too early to start.
2. Understand employment
The world of work is in a big state of flux and has been for some considerable time. Any way you can understand employment is going to be useful. Whether you’re doing it, watching it, or studying it, it will be useful later on.
3. Encourage depth
This is about depth in learning, depth in studying, following your curiosity and observing what your passions are, things that really light you up and that you find so fascinating that you are absorbed in them for hours and hours. Encouraging this depth is a good lesson to learn for later when you get into the area of employment of your choice.
4. Choose subjects wisely
Whether it’s GCSEs, A-levels, degrees, optional courses, projects, dissertations – whatever the form or the type of learning, there can be a connection between it and your future employment.
5. Get practical experience
Get as much experience in the world of work as you can, such as through work experience and internships. The more you do, the more you learn, and the more you will help you move from full-time education into work.
6. Record likes and dislikes
Diarise what you like and what you don’t. The more you experience employment of any type, the more you build a picture of what you might want to do and what you definitely do not want to do. Set criteria for the type of work that you do and judge the source of work and source of jobs against your criteria. This helps you understand what you want to learn about and learn to do when you go into full-time education.
7. Consider a gap year
Should you take a gap year? There are lots of pros and cons of gap years and there is no doubt that a gap year well used has a big impact on your transition into your chosen type of full-time work, whenever that happens. Don’t lose sight of other opportunities to try something different for a period of time, such as during school and college holidays. If you use your holidays well you may find you don’t need a gap year.
8. Build a plan
Having a plan enables you to focus. It allows you to still continue experimenting and to build into your plan the things you learn from your employment experience.
9. Commit when ready
Know when you’re ready to commit. At some point you will have learned enough to want to commit to the type of the work you want to do full time. When you reach that space, go hard, go deep and be smart in the way you want to pursue your professional work.
10. Embrace continuous learning
Remember that learning is continuous. Don’t believe it comes to an end when you finish full time education. Your ability to get off to a great start in the world of work is significantly related to the attitude and approach you take to learning.
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies which created the Career Ignition Club, a leading-edge online careers support and learning platform. Follow him @PosIgnition.