Transitioning from a graduate program into a new professional role in the industry has been concerning over the last 12 months with businesses restructuring in order to cut costs, creating a sense of insecurity surrounding job prospects.
Like many people in the industry, I have a number of close friends and family who have experienced redundancies over the past year, with some finding alternative employment and others returning to study. This highlights a need to become more involved with industry networks and to seek opportunities to diversify and upskill.
Gaining entry to the industry as a vacation student, graduate or new professional has become more competitive, with employers receiving a higher number of candidates with fewer positions available. To stand out from multiple applications, you have to go beyond what is required to demonstrate your passion and commitment to the industry. This can be done through involvement in industry networks, further study and driving your own professional development.
During these difficult times I have used resources such as mentoring programs, open discussions with peer support groups and my connection with the AusIMM through the New Professionals Network, WIMnet and the Members Assistance Program to help me stay engaged with the industry and to reaffirm networks in a time when they really count for personal and professional guidance.
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I have built my skill set through webinars provided by the AusIMM on topics such as technical writing, email etiquette, and utilising LinkedIn effectively. I also attended the 2015 New Leaders conference, coffee club networking events and technical talks, which have all helped to add value to my skill set and keep me focused on my work in a time of constant change.
My current employer has supported my involvement with the AusIMM by giving me time to call in for monthly meetings and manage email correspondence during work hours when there are no production critical tasks due. Many of our high level executives are members of AusIMM and therefore are supportive of my participation.
I have noticed over the past year that there seems to be elevated work stress, particularly among new professionals, which is having an impact on out-of-work time. It’s important to manage such stresses for both mental health and to be fit for work. I believe this is because graduates and new professionals often feel the need to prove themselves or work harder to reduce any job insecurity pressures. It can be difficult to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress, however this is where support networks, mentors and self-awareness can help. Reaching out for a chat with another new professional or your leader is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of self-awareness and responsibility to yourself and your role. It is something every professional experiences during their career, and there are many willing to offer support and guidance; all you need to do is ask.
I believe the industry is just as competitive as others; it requires a high level of professional dedication and diversification in order to offer a potential employer the best service you can. In current times we must be prepared to wait a bit longer for a position in our chosen field during the slower industry cycle, or take a lower skilled job in the interim to stay within the industry. It’s also important to have a follow-up plan for occasions when working directly in the industry is not an immediate option, such as study, work experience, short term employment outside the industry or professional development.