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Three Common Graduate Career Misconceptions and the Myths Behind Them

Posted by Lama Ataya March 21, 2013 0 Comment 2017 views

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Where to Work? What to Work? When to Work? Three questions everyone aspiring to rise up the career ladder should ask themselves among others. The answers are not always very clear or straightforward however. Here are some pointers and myth-busters from the expert career teams at Bayt.com:

1. Where to Work

Myth:

Multinational corporations are the only companies worth working for.

Mindset:

I will only work for a large leading blue-chip multinational organization.

Reality:

Multinational corporations certainly often offer an entire smorgasbord of great benefits to their staff which some smaller companies may not be able to afford. Secondly, having a blue chip name on your CV is often a plus in the long run especially if you are able to build a reasonable track record of success there. Moreover the brand association associated with working for a household name company will often make your life a little easier as you come to grips with the working world. Finally, if you have great personal affinity for the company and its values and brand and products that is all the more reason to join.

Having said that however, there are legions of large and small regional and local companies that are just as sophisticated in their operations and also as creative, innovative, and generous with their employees as many of the leading multinationals. Small and medium organizations often offer greater flexibility and more scope to really gain exposure, shine, and leave a lasting impact given the leaner reporting structures and smaller teams. Moreover small and medium corporations are often growing and innovating much faster than the larger established players which comes with huge learning advantages particularly as your role will be more likely to morph across teams and functionalities than in a large structured MNC.

Advice:

Look for a company you admire and respect where you can learn and grow and make a positive contribution while enjoying what you do in an environment that agrees with your character and values. Some graduates will thrive in the buzzing entrepreneurial atmosphere of a small start-up while others will be much more at home in a more structured established regimental environment.

 2. When to Work

Myth:

All jobs need degrees.

Mindset:

I will start looking for work experience when I graduate.

Reality:

Competition for graduates is fierce and the earlier you can start fleshing out that CV the better.  A great GPA will go a long way in proving you have a good sound work ethic and sufficiently well-honed technical skills. However employers are also looking for maturity, proactivity, team skills, leadership skills, creativity and a number of other soft skills which ideally you can demonstrate through volunteer work and paid or unpaid internships and project work you can undertake even while in college.

Bayt.com’s poll on “Internships in the MENA region” revealed that internships are useful to both employers and interns with 30% of polled professionals stating they are equally valued by both parties. The poll also showed that respondents who have held intern positions considered their experience to be primarily important for developing and learning new skills and knowledge (48.3%), followed by gaining experience to add to their CV (28.9%).

Advice:

Look for opportunities to demonstrate the skills employers are looking for as early as you can through project work and internships and extracurricular activities and volunteer work and a general emphasis on the pursuit of excellence. Make sure you are ready to demonstrate them to employers when you look for that first job post-graduation both in your CV and in the interview.

3. What to Work

Myth:

Your degree dictates your first job and the rest of your career.

Mindset:

I will only look at jobs that cater in a very specific manner to my degree as my first job determines everything.

Reality:

Career flexibility is the new mantra in an era of lifelong learning and unprecedented access to opportunity.  What this means is that while you need to choose that first job with utmost care, do not sink into over-analysis paralysis. You need not fear of undue negative repercussions on your career if you take liberties with that first job title or take on role responsibilities outside of the traditional domain.  People take risks with their careers and undertake dramatic career changes all the time. In fact, 82.4% of polled Middle East professionals maintain they desire a career change as revealed by Bayt.com’s ‘Career Reinvention and the MENA Workplace’ poll.

The poll also revealed that as many as 17% of the respondents are likely to quell their desire for a career change as they are not willing to take the risk. Asked what would most motivate them to change careers, 25.8% firmly said a better salary would be a great incentive; 18.3% claimed an opportunity to start fresh in their dream career, 12.7% said additional training and development. 17.9 % look for a promise of long term stability while 8.1% look for a better company; 4.8% specified better management as an encouraging reason; 10.2% would change to get a better workplace environment; 1.5% would look for more flexible hours, while only 0.7% felt that working with nicer employees was a main factor.

The poll went on to ask the region’s participants where they would like to be career-wise in 10 years. 27.9% said in a different career with a new job, company and industry. 24.1% felt they would be in the same industry and company but with a different job, and 22.6% believed having the same job in the same industry, but with a different company was something they could be doing in 10 years. 16.6% said they could have the same job 10 years from now, but in a different company and industry and a further 8.7% were not sure of what their future held for them.

Advice:

Don’t be afraid to experiment and take calculated risks to embark on your dream career. if you are a civil engineer but very seriously crave a banking, baking or basket-making role, fine-tune your CV and go for it and never look back; you can always change roles or industries later if it all goes very horribly wrong!  Same goes for finance majors eyeing the oil and petrochemicals industry for example or graphic designers looking to break into finance or lawyers looking for a more creative role etc!

As a fresh graduate with a good head on your shoulders the world is your oyster so take those psychometric tests, meet with successful professionals in your target field, search the leading jobsites and read the industry literature until you have identified exactly what it is you really want to do with your career. Then do it! You can always reinvent yourself as your own life circumstances and desires and objectives and preferences change.

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About Lama Ataya

Lama Ataya

Lama heads the Marketing department at Bayt.com and within that role is also responsible for Content, Community Experience, CSR, and Corporate Communications. Lama has a BA/MA from Stanford University, and shares her expertise and insights with the Bayt.com community.

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