Fortune favours the brave: newcomer Lilly shares how to land yourself a grad role

5 minutes read

Aruga newcomer Lilly shares how to land yourself a grad role

Finishing uni and trying to start a career can be daunting – especially when you’re up against a talented cohort of fresh candidates all vying for a prized grad position.

From digital networking to connecting IRL, extra courses to holiday internships; there are plenty of ways you can get yourself job-ready while still at uni and get a headstart on job-hunting.

Aruga’s newest PR gun and recent uni grad, Lilly Caldwell, shares the top five tips she wants all students to know. Pen and paper at the ready, you’ll want to take notes on this.

1. The early bird catches the worm

Each year, thousands of graduates armed with their brand-new degrees are ready to jump into the working world. Why wait until then? At the beginning of my degree, my lovely mum encouraged me to put myself out there as early as possible. By the time I graduated, I was prepared for the workforce with connections, skills and experience. In my first year of university, I pursued internships with minimal skill but plenty of drive. (Read on to point 2 if your initial reaction is panic.)

With my resume in hand, I reached out to agencies and in-house roles at organisations I one day wanted to work at and explained how eager I was to learn. In total, I completed four internships across my degree, making valuable connections in my industry and learning technical skills not taught in a university. Then, when applying to paid roles, I felt much more confident in my acquired abilities. Before Aruga, I worked at another Brisbane PR and marketing agency for nearly two years while also studying.

All those combined experiences led me to my current role at Aruga. And, I only just finished my last university assignment in October.

2. Don’t fear rejection

Rejection can be a blessing – it depends on your perspective. Many university students hold back from applying for a position because they fear they’ll hear “no”.  The more you hear “no”, the better you’ll be at handling rejection. I’ve had numerous conversations with people and after I’ve asked why they didn’t go for the opportunity, they said they were scared of hearing “no”. I now see rejection as a redirection in all aspects of life.

Let’s say I pitch an idea to a client and they say “no”. Instead of feeling deflated, I see this as a redirection to develop an even better idea more aligned with their expectations. Here’s a secret: most of the opportunities I’ve landed were opportunities where I thought I’d be told “no”.

“Welcome rejection as redirection.”

3. University is just one piece of the puzzle

Yes, a degree is useful in many ways but not every skill is taught at university, particularly in the evolving PR and digital landscape. During university holidays, I completed niche online courses for free, such as:

  • Email marketing on MailChimp
  • The fundamentals of Google advertising
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • A blueprint for Facebook Marketing course

Not only can you add these courses to your resume but you can also figure out what niche areas of your industry you do and don’t like. Don’t restrict your education to university alone, explore your options. Psst… most questions in job interviews are not about everything you learnt at university, or your GPA.

4. Release your social butterfly

In my third year of university, I joined AMPed (Advertising, Marketing and PR club of QUT) as a Student and Communities Director. In this role, I attended networking events featuring industry guests, made friends who related to the juggle of uni and refined my networking skills.

This is where Aruga caught my eye. Aruga is an AMPed partner and regularly holds information sessions, Q&As and office tours with QUT students. At every AMPed event, you can hear about the internships and roles being offered throughout the industry. You’ll walk away with at least 20 new LinkedIn connections. Not to mention, I made lifelong friends who now hold similar jobs at other Brisbane agencies. It’s comforting to have a network of friends to whom I can relate with about PR and marketing life over dinner.

5. Link up with LinkedIn

Join LinkedIn and follow industry thought leaders, CEOs of companies you love, recruitment agencies and accounts that share PR and marketing inspo. Don’t be shy, comment on posts that resonate or challenge you and share exciting university or personal wins.

You can even connect with your university lecturers and tutors whom you’ve enjoyed being taught by – many people are offered roles this way. This all helps to build your network and be on the radar of recruiters while learning industry trends. Most marketers and publicists also have a folder on their phones full of LinkedIn screenshots. They typically consist of innovative concepts or inspiring quotes they can look through on a rainy day.

Still feel like you want to know more about how to break into the industry?

Let’s connect on LinkedIn and who knows, you may be my desk neighbour one day!

While you’re at it, keep an eye on Aruga’s LinkedIn to hear about when you can next join an AMPed event with us.

Class dismissed, Lilly Caldwell x