Balancing my graduate job search with a young family

This week’s guest blog comes from Amy Johnson, who graduated from Health, Wellbeing and Social Care in summer 2016, and she’s now studying for the Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Career Management in Practice . Here, she talks about the challenges involved in balancing a graduate job search with raising a young family.

My story

After completing an access to HE course at Shipley College, I took a year out to have my child before starting the BSc Hons in Health Wellbeing and Social Care. It was my son’s first birthday when I started university and returned into study. Sitting there in my very first lecture I felt very overwhelmed and doubted how I would be able to fit study into my family life.

I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy- it took blood, sweat, tears and tantrums, but I did it and I received a first class honours degree!

Building up to graduation day, I can only describe what felt like a ‘hype’- all the hard work had paid off. The day had come, I’d wear my cap and gown, get my degree and walk straight into a graduate job right?

Wrong! I had woken up in the real world.

My job search

I began to do job searches, which, let’s face it, drains the life out of most students.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and I hadn’t landed myself job in the mental health sector. Being a busy single mother I was always busy, and I thought the jobs would come to me… wrong again!

Depression started kicking in and I started to question my ability: “Why am I not hearing anything back from employers?” My course involved lots of placements and I had done lots of voluntary work – so why wasn’t I getting a job?

One day I received information about the Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Career Management in Practice. This seemed to come at the right time in my life. I applied for the course and started the next month.

Getting help and returning to study

Within the first few weeks I had my answers as to why I wasn’t getting a response from the jobs I had applied to. My CV, application forms, cover letters and the way I applied myself wasn’t up to scratch. Yes, I may hold a first class honours degree, but a degree doesn’t teach you how to apply yourself correctly, or how to do detailed job searches.

The degree didn’t give me a clear understanding of the graduate labour market and what graduates are faced with once they leave university, but the career management course has helped me to understand that this is COMPETITION!! Every single student is your competitor and if you don’t sell yourself correctly and get that graduate job, they will!

Being a single mother of two and returning to study daunted me. Studying, and looking for a graduate job while bringing a family up is a struggle. The staff on the course are very supportive, understanding and encouraging. They want me to succeed and with their help and this course I will. It doesn’t matter how slow you move forward – as long as you keep moving.

I am half way through the course and every week find it more interesting. My confidence in getting paid work in the mental health sector is growing. As well as this I also volunteer for a mental health charity and for a crisis intervention team and which to bring what I have learned on this course to help and support individuals with mental health problems back into work.

Thanks Amy, good luck with your job search and the rest of your course. If you want help with graduate jobs don’t forget that we’re here every weekday all year round and #teambradford grads can use all our services up to for five years after your studies!