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Four steps to reflect on your career debut

 

 Young woman reflecting on her future

Hands up if the last few months have felt a little bit like a rollercoaster?! You crammed for your finals, applied for graduate jobs, got your results, celebrated your graduation, and successfully navigated your first few months in employment. Perhaps it’s time to take a minute to just breathe? And if you can summon the energy, reflect a little on where you are now and how far you’ve come. After all, this is a big moment in your career – you’re now a fully-fledged professional!

Step one: What has happened?

A good place to start is by simply noting down what has happened since you graduated and entered the workplace. You might write a list of key milestones or adopt a fact gathering ‘who, what, where, when’ approach. This activity alone may well help you to realise the distance you’ve travelled.

Step two: How do you feel?

Once you’ve got a basic timeline of events, you can begin to layer on how you felt about each step. Reflecting on your emotions can help you to identify highs and lows and consider what has motivated you along the way. You might explore both the ‘hot’ emotions that you felt immediately after an event, and the ‘cold’ emotions you experience in the days after when you had slept on things and were able to apply a more rational perspective.

Step three: What have you learned?

Next, you can begin to analyse your experiences in a little more detail and adopt a curious and questioning approach. What new insight have you gained through experience? Have you had any ‘eureka’ moments and what has changed as a result? Has anything or anyone challenged you to think differently? When have you felt most energised and engaged with your work? What feedback have you received? How else could you have approached your first few months in the working world?

Maybe you will spot patterns emerging in your experience or simply begin to appreciate the quirks and complexities of your professional life. Either way, in contemplating some of these questions, you will hopefully generate a series of key learning points and in turn, this may help you to build both self-awareness and a deeper understanding of the workplace. Crucially, it is what you do next that matters. How will you now put all that you have learned into action?

Step four: What could you do next?

You might decide to set yourself some objectives linked to your learning, perhaps around specific training or development needs you identify. Talking to your manager, your mentor or a close colleague may help you to explore options and ideas and to shape and define your goals.

Don’t forget you can still access support from the Careers and Employability Service. You might want to start by checking out our dedicated alumni website: www.nottingham.ac.uk/careers/alumni

Here you can find information on a range of post-graduation topics and a number of profiling resources that might further aid your self-reflection. You’ll also be able to search our events programme, where you can find details about all of the workshops, fairs, and insight evenings we offer. And, if you feel you need a little more support and would like to talk to one of our careers advisers, you’ll find everything you need to get in touch.

Posted on Monday 28th November 2016

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