The Job Hunt: Planning Ahead

Since FoodGrads is about supporting students/grads entering the food industry, it made sense to write my experience as a recent grad and a new professional. A lot of people have asked me how I networked or about anything I did differently, much like a new professional is always asked, so this is suggestion/advice based on my experience.

After You’ve Graduated…

FoodGradsA graduating student has a lot of factors to weigh when they start applying for jobs. Whether you’re an undergrad with no “real industry” experience or a grad student with too much “research” experience, it can be a harrowing process for both. While my experience might be more useful for grad students looking to enter the food industry, some of the suggestions remain the same for any student graduating with any degree.

When you look for a job after a graduate degree, there are many elements that play a role. You could have experience in the same or different field, have a completely different major as an undergrad, have a bigger student loan to recover, visa restrictions (a lot of grad students study in a different country), have a very specific research subject or all of the above! Playing all these factors correctly can help you land your “dream” job or be a step closer to it. Of course, if you have no specific interests, the best job would be the one that would give you maximum returns in terms of experience and money.

The Job Search

Throughout my job searching days, the most common advice I was given was it’s about getting your foot in the industry. While that is great advice, I have a slightly different take on it. As long as you have a clear aim (whether that’s a particular role, a company, or certain salary expectation) and plan ahead, I think it’s definitely possible to get exactly what you want. This article is divided into parts so I can maximise the amount of information on one post and not overwhelm you with information.

Plan Ahead

At the beginning of your degree, you will most likely have planned the years to come with your advisor/mentor/PI. Take that time to make a timeline for yourself too. Map out an internship timeline, graduation date, etc. Even though all of this is subject to change, it gives you a clear perspective and helps you work towards it.

  • As you approach the completion of your research/graduation, start talking to your peers, advisors and professors. Ask them for recommendations and let them know you will start applying for jobs soon.
  • If you’ve never applied for jobs online, start early just to understand the process. While there are specific times the market is overflowing with jobs and certain dry periods, it’s not too tough to find opportunities that might be suited to you. The advice you get most often is apply for everything that you are eligible for: While this is true, it’s also a little confusing. To get an idea of where you stand, how to talk to recruiters, you might want to apply for a few positions you’re certain of and analyze yourself through those interviews.
  • A lot of grad programs have partnering companies. If your research and the company have similarities, that would be the best place to look for a job. It takes a little digging to find out the right contacts, but it could be the easy pass to the perfect first job. This would require a little planning and approach.
  • When you know that you want to start working in a certain amount of time, you want to give it all you can and clear time for building job search strategies and actually applying for a job. It is worth your while.

Your First Job

After reading through my own suggestions, it almost sounds like it is the toughest thing to do, but I tend to be a little strict with myself and hence the stringency. Your efforts for landing a job that makes sense for you in every way can differ with levels of degrees, experience, visa status, management skills etc. It does not mean you have to put your life on hold, but you do not want to take it very lightly either. First jobs play an important role in shaping what kind of a professional you would be or would want to be. I think it’s important to be able to achieve something you think is right for you for that time. In the next post, I will cover suggestions on networking as a grad student.

Written by: Shyamoli Gramopadhye – FoodGrads Career Partner 

Did you find this helpful?  Do you have any advice for planning head?