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Guest Post: The journey from course to career

A degree, diploma or certificate does not guarantee you a job.

Matt Dowling
12th February 2016
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What it does give you is the know-how, skill, contacts and life experience to start your professional career. With more students looking for fewer jobs, it pays to accept this fact and start thinking about how you're going to crack the big bad world of business. Here are a few tips to help you get started.


Lay the foundations early

Whether you've taken a short course or Master's degree, it's important to dedicate some time to consider what you want to do once you're finished. Many students who take a skill specific short course will already have a good idea but if you’re in the 'I’m not sure' camp, it's time to start looking around at sectors you might like to try. You can always change direction if you're not happy with your choice. Work experience during your studies often lets you sample a variety of environments before you make your call.

Prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more

Once you know what you'd like do, it's time to prepare. Should you want to apply to certain positions then your CV should be the main focus.



  • Employers hate spelling mistakes
  • Always include an email and phone number (you'd be amazed at how many don't)
  • Be job specific when applying. Copy and pasting won't cut it - we know that trick
  • Some big firms (and most agencies) use software to detect keywords in word documents to filter candidates so if you're going to send a heavily designed PDF, it may not make it through that first phase. Whatever format you use, make sure your CV reflects the skills and experience required in the job spec


If you're more interested in freelancing or starting your own company, the work starts now. Get your social media accounts for your business sorted (only choose ones you think will work for you), start building your website (pay for this unless you’re a developer/designer), be able to explain what you do in one sentence, print business cards and spend lots of time on your portfolio. Think about how you're going to market your business and how much you're going to charge. If some of these business terms intimidate you, don't worry. Business is not nearly as complicated as many would have you believe.

Dive in

After a long degree the first few weeks are very strange. You'll either be waiting for feedback from applications, sending CVs out or both. For freelancers and start-ups, it's all hands on deck. Your first client should be the core focus. If you've done your homework then it's a case of waking up at 8am, settling into your workspace or pounding the streets for new business. A significant advantage you have over established businesses is that you're hungry and determined - use this.

For more help with your career, advice or finding paid work, set up a freelancer profile on to tap into articles, videos, resources, mentors, paid work and events.

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