Career anxiety, that dreaded feeling that creeps up on nearly all students at some stage of their college careers. One day you’re a fresher forgetting about your assignment until the hours before, and the next you’re a soon-to-be graduated quasi-adult trying to make plans for the future. No matter how prepared you feel you are, or how much direction you have for what you want to do, looking ahead to post college life can be as stressful as it is exciting, and any help you can get should be taken with both hands. What is that help, you ask? Trinity Careers Service is a great place to start. With multiple services and resources available, there truly is something to gain for every student at any level of their job search. However, with so much on offer, it seems many students are unsure of how to begin engaging with the service.
But fear not! I have sat down with Orlaith Tunney, one of the six fabulous careers consultants working to help students figure things out. Together we have broken down the Careers Service into the not-so-scary basics of what there is, how to use it, and what to definitely not worry about anymore. After all, as Orlaith would put it, we are not preparing for our whole future, but the next step in our lives after graduating- and that is exciting.
What is the careers service and what do they do?
Trinity Careers Service is here to support all students in preparation for their future careers. They can help you to fully understand how to market yourself to prospective employers, helping you to identify and articulate your skills and strengths that you have gained through your degree and beyond- participation in societies, sports, work experience and more. A handy guide to start with to break this down can be found here https://www.tcd.ie/Careers/publications/careersguide/flipbook/index.html?page=6.
Where can I find this service and their resources?
Information about the Career Service can be found on their website. The website has buckets of information for students and graduates, offering advice in areas such as How to Find Work, Applications and Interviews, and Explore Career Options. The website is a great place to start engaging!
Trinity students can also avail of the MyCareer online portal, in which you can browse the multitude of resources and services available to you: searching for jobs, booking a place for careers events, and booking appointments with career consultants or with the CV/LinkedIn Clinic.
As well as this, stay on the lookout for emails from the Careers Service, where they send out weekly career updates and information about upcoming career events. You can also follow their instagram @trinity.careers.service to stay up to date with what is going on.
When is the right time in college to use the service?
Orlaith believes no time is a bad time: “Any time’s a good time when the student feels ready. In my experience many tend to procrastinate. By coming sooner to use the career service, you actually can take more proactive action, and thereby build your confidence and career readiness.”
Orlaith explains that while first year may seem early, it can be hugely beneficial to think of your career at this stage because your participation in college life can actively make you more employable. Orlaith emphasises the benefits of taking small proactive steps to gain skills and experience that can make you more employable in the long run (like participation in societies and clubs, writing for a college publication, or being a part of the Student Union). Having fun and enjoying college life does not have to mean pushing career anxiety aside, in fact, preparing in little ways now and adding experiences to your CV can absolutely minimise stress when you come closer to graduation, and supply you with an arsenal of skills to sell.
I’m a final year student and have never engaged with the service- is it too late?
Career anxiety seems to come to a head for most in their last year as they are unavoidably faced with the dreaded question: what happens next? This can be especially true for broad degree students studying humanities and social sciences, who may not know exactly what direction they want to take, never mind where to start. For those students: don’t worry! Orlaith has assured me that they are here to support you at whatever stage you are at, and that it is never too late to start, claiming that no matter how long you have left it, “now is a good time to start.”
Pointing out a key feature of the service, Orlaith mentions graduates may avail of all careers services until the end of June in the year following your course ending. So for those worrying about running out of time in fourth year, support will continue to be available to you for a whole year after college is over!
I have no idea what I want to do! Can I use the service too?
Orlaith explains how the Careers Service can still be of great help even if you’re unclear on what path to take post-college. The resources on the website and the MyCareer portal can help prompt you to reflect on what you want to do. Reflection is key, according to Orlaith, when trying to figure out what you want to do: “Ultimately, a student reflecting on what they care about, what they’re skilled at and interested in, is really the most important piece. What is the next experience you’d like to get?”
“Ultimately, a student reflecting on what they care about, what they’re skilled at and interested in, is really the most important piece. What is the next experience you’d like to get?”
CV/LinkedIn clinics sound great, but what exactly do they entail?
CV/LinkedIn Clinics are a very straightforward process. It is a short 15 minute appointment that can be booked easily through MyCareer. You can choose one thing to look over, either LinkedIn or CV or cover letter. Have a CV draft ready to look at, and if you have a specific job in mind or know what job sector you are interested in make sure to think about that when drafting. Tailoring your CV or cover letter is important when it comes to job applications, so the more specific you can be the better!
How to prepare for a meeting with a career consultant?
So, you have decided to book a Next Step appointment with a career consultant through the MyCareers portal and now you want to know how to prepare. Orlaith recommends uploading your CV to the portal, so that the consultant can review it and get an idea of your experience. She stresses that everything is relevant- from work experience to extracurriculars, everything can be used to strengthen your CV. If you do not have a CV draft, don’t worry either, as when you book your appointment you can briefly jot down your experience.
You decide what to discuss as you book your meeting, and your career consultant can help you from there: “It’s up to the student to drive the meeting. So if you want to talk about not knowing where you want to go, you can say that. Maybe you need specific help with an application or an interview. Maybe you have an illness or a disability and you’re wondering how to disclose it. There are all the types of things that we can help with.”