Would your future self be proud of present you?

I know that a lot of you will be pretty close to graduating, maybe you even have a graduate position lined up (yay full-time job!!!!) … regardless of where you are in your study or career journey, I think we can all agree that we’ve entered the stage of the year due for ‘reflection’.

If you use this time to take stock on your current career moves, I want you to ask yourself “Is what I’m working on right now helping me get to where I want to be?” “If someone asked me what I was doing right now, would I be proud?”

To put it bluntly: your career isn’t an instagram post, AKA it’s not something you can edit, tweak or delete. Which means everything you’re doing should a) make you feel proud to share if someone asks you b) make YOU feel proud, full stop.

If you forget what the ‘perfect’ career looks like, and instead focus on what your future self would benefit from – do you need to make any immediate changes or do your current goals align with your future dreams?

Here are some examples:

1 // Don’t shrug off your part-time job. 

As students, we have a tendency to shrug off ANY type of work that doesn’t involve us wearing office-type clothes. We don’t like talking about ‘working at a chocolate store’ for a year (#TrueStory), we skirt around our excellent ‘people skills’ because it would involve bringing up being a cashier at Kmart, the times that we volunteered for Parkrun ‘doesn’t count’ because it doesn’t directly relate to our business degree.

All of these examples are ridiculous, right!? We don’t jump suddenly from studying, to a full-time, 9-5 job without earning our way there … By. Working. Employers aren’t THAT crazy. They don’t expect you to flounce into an interview, as a recent graduate with 3+ years of experience from working directly in your field.

So why do we expect this of ourselves? Your part-time job directly relates to your career – because it proves you can commit to a job, and stick to it, that you can handle challenges and that you can contribute to a team environment … the very basics of a full-time job. On top of that – don’t discredit any experience you gain at your part-time job, at internships or in volunteer roles, we’ve talked about this countless amounts of times at generationYOU, see here, here and here.

2 // Have you asked yourself what YOU actually want once you graduate? 

There’s a hell of a lot of pressure to graduate and land a position at the Big 4 (or any graduate program to be honest), an entry-level role or to do anything that shows your time at uni wasn’t a big ‘waste’.

That pressure can sometimes force you to overlook what you actually want to be doing once you complete your 15th (or 16th) year of education. *Whew* Those are big numbers, right?

If travelling is something you have marked as a priority, then it’s probably best if you don’t land yourself a position where it’s a faux pas to suddenly ask for 3 months off to ‘find yourself’.

It might work out in your favour to stay at your part-time job and have a decent chunk of $$$ behind you, before planning an epic trip overseas!

3 // You can still be insanely proud of your job, even if it’s with an ‘unknown’. 

Ahhhh the age old debate “will something better be coming around?”. The problem with that question is most of the time it leaves the person asking it, stranded by the wayside with little to no opportunities left.

As a graduate, opportunities are few and afar – I’m not kidding – regardless of what industry you’re in, it’s competitive, and come Dec/Jan, ALL workplaces will be inundated with applicant upon applicant.

There are a lot of companies (small and large), who may not have been on your radar, but who are doing awesome things in your industry. Likewise – there may be a lot of companies who are not yet established, and are looking for team players who want to be an integral part of their growth.

Push yourself to look for opportunities outside of your immediate industry circle. If you’re lucky enough to land an interview or an offer from either of the above companies – you might want to triple-check your hesitance!! Sometimes the best lucky breaks (and the type of career-building breaks) are the ones that are dressed up as unknowns.

4 // Pride can come from things outside of your job.

Sure, there are times when we get into something and then realise it was 100% not what we thought it would be. And that’s fine. What isn’t okay, is bailing out on something when it gets a little bit tough.

**Hard Truth Alert** Your job doesn’t have to be everything all the time – in fact if it’s paying your bills and you’re gaining experience, then it’s probably worthwhile sticking it out.

The extra little ‘side-hustles’ or hobbies that you had at uni, don’t have to be shut down and forgotten about once you enter the workforce. In fact, we would argue that to maintain your sanity – you keep doing at least one or two things (within your capacity), that helps to fuel your fire.

For example, if there is a particular not-for-profit organisation that you want to volunteer with/for – there’s nothing stopping you from approaching them. Discuss your availability, bearing in mind that you need to keep your performance at work a priority.