It was the end of January, the sun was out, the weather was perfect and it was the summer after I had finished high school and 13 years of school. The world was mine, ultimate freedom. However, instead of being out with friends and doing typical summer things I was instead going to be learning lifelong employment skills as I had enrolled into Vision Australia's three week pre-employment program (Building Stronger Futures).
"What am I doing?"
"Is it really that hard to get a job?"
"Will I even learn anything?"
I asked myself all these questions before I actually started the program, I know the answers to all three questions now and I have learnt a lot from the program.
Here are just six of the many things I learnt from doing Vision Australia's pre-employment program.
1. Applying online isn't the only way
Sure, sitting at home applying online is an easy way to search for jobs, you can do it whenever you want and you can even do it lying in bed in your pajamas if you wanted to. But truth be told there are other better ways to job seek that are more effective. These can include applying in person to the business/store, having an informal interviews or networking (which happens to lead me right into…)
2. The importance of networking
"It's not what you know but who you know." Unlike applying online where you are just another application, networking and going to networking events is great as you get the opportunity to get your name and face in front of possible future employers. Even if the person you are talking to doesn't have a job for you, you never know if they know a guy who knows a guy who has a sister who's BF has an uncle that has a position that you would be perfect for.
3. How to write a resume and cover letter
So apparently you keep your resume short and sweet and your cover letter is where you can expand, explain and sell yourself more. Oh you don't have any previous employment experiences? Don't worry there is more than one type of resume, just write a skills based resume. Writing a resume is an important life skill my school never properly taught me, but don't worry…I know algebra which is obviously just as important.
4. The seven steps to problem solving
Everyone has problems, some are big problems and some small are not as important but are still problems. During the three week program we had three problem solving sessions where we learnt the seven steps of identifying, brainstorming and coming up with the best solutions to solving our problems.
5. It's not what we say but how we say it
If, "A picture is worth a thousand words," then body language must be worth around the same amount? Maybe a little bit more? Who knows? However, during the course the importance of body language was reinforced and we learnt how nonverbal communication can speak louder and say more than our words.
6. What I really want.
Ok, so as cheesy as this sounds I actually and honestly learnt a lot about myself and the future career I want. We spent most of the first week doing a lot of self-reflection, one day during that week it occurred to me and I told myself, "there is no way in hell that I could do a 9-5 job just sitting at a desk, going from meeting to meeting doing nothing".
That type of career is just not for me and would no way suit my personality, I'm a creative person. The second thing that helped me realise what I really want was when I received a second round uni offer to a completely different University and course to what I was currently enrolled into.
To make a long story short I switched uni and course. I went with my heart and what I was more passionate about, and not my brain. Again, although all my uni stuff wasn't directly related to the pre-employment program, I feel that without the program I may not have changed courses and thought about what I really want in life and what my long term future employment goal is.