Job ideas for newbies

Yay, study is done and dusted and the world is your oyster. Time to find a great job and earn some cash!

Some might have luck or connections on their side for this to become an instant reality; for the rest us it might not be quite that quick or easy.

Finding your first job can be challenging for a whole range of reasons, of which the first will be deciding what you actually want to do and how you want to do it. A close second is how to get a job without previous experience.

Career paths rarely begin even close to the top, so finding a strategic entry-level position that will get you where you want to be is critical. Or, it may just be a case of finding a job. Any job.

So where do you begin?

For tertiary graduates

As a graduate you have the advantage of being guided by the study you undertook, and the qualification you have could be one step in the door. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean there are jobs available. It may take a bit of left-field imagination to find a job that can eventually lead on to where you want to be.

  • Become an assistant in your chosen industry as a way to get through the door. Marketing assistant, research assistant, administrative assistant, beauty assistant, teaching assistant, mechanic assistant...

  • Try for an internship or apprenticeship. Even if the pay is so low that it’s basically non-existent, you can continue your job search while gathering handy experience.

  • Consider becoming a tutor to other students still studying. If anything, you’ll hone your own knowledge while you earn some pocket money and persist with the job hunt.

  • Start your own business. Even if it’s just mowing lawns, you’ll gain a wealth of business skills and knowledge for the next step of your career. And you’ll have something to put on your CV.

  • Get a written reference from a staff member you connected with at your tertiary institution – it’s not a work reference, but a character reference can be useful.

For school leavers

Without being tied to any particular industry following years of tertiary study, you might have a wider scope of jobs to choose from than a graduate, but less qualifications to back yourself with.

Here are some ideas for the newest of job hunting newbies:

  • Go online and apply for a range of junior positions, making the most of the skills you have such as your NCEA levels, a drivers’ licence, great communication skills, punctuality and enthusiasm.

  • Search your own network for job leads. Your neighbour’s friend’s dad’s uncle owns a landscaping business down the road and might need a labourer.

  • Find junior positions in an industry you’re interested in. Do you like fashion? Become a retail sales assistant and it may lead to bigger things.

  • Drop your CV to local businesses in person. Your initiative may impress someone enough to offer you the next position or apprenticeship that comes up.

  • Don’t be too picky. There’s nothing wrong with being on a checkout if it pays the bills, and you’ll gain valuable experience until you find something else.

For current students

So school isn’t quite done and dusted when you’re still a student, but getting some experience now can be invaluable down the track when you are looking for your first full time job.

Your aim for a part-time job at this stage can be anything from a bit of pocket money through to getting a foot hold in a career you’re interested in. So, what sort of work could you look for?

  • Hours that work around your study, which often means evenings. Many jobs with these hours are in the food and hospitality industry, but part-time hours are also available at supermarkets, call centres, care facilities, theatres or cinemas, or childcare.

  • A job that provides experience within your area of study. Are you studying business? Try to find work with a small to medium business to learn the ropes.

  • Working from home opportunities, for ultimate flexibility. Provide administration assistance, data entry, research support for a thesis or get entrepreneurial and sell beanies to fellow cold students.

  • Anything local in your ‘hood’. Go for a walk and look for “staff wanted” signs in windows, check out public noticeboards, look in newspaper vacancies, ask at places where you know other students work.

Whatever job you end up choosing, remember that your first job is not necessarily your forever job. Some jobs may simply help you figure out what you DON’T want to do.

Consider any role an experience that will benefit whatever future career path you embark on, and you’ll be on your way in no time.