Working at Academic Level

One of the conversations I recently had was with a just graduated master’s student. Her dilemma was as follows: after her vocational education she had finished her academical Master. She regarded her choice for a follow up academic master as a clear investment in herself. Her aim was to reap the benefits of this choice in her first job. She thought that being hired for a prestigious traineeship would be a great crowning on all her efforts. During the selection procedure, however, she started to realise how strict the criteria were for such a traineeship. High grades, relevant parttime positons, active membership in student committees, experience abroad, giving effective interviews, an assessment and good references. It was not easy for her. She considered a route where she would start in an Account Manager role and grow from there. This brought her to her dilemma. Her big fear was to make a wrong choice.

Together we have explored what a wrong choice for her means. Her biggest fear was that she would work for years in a role ‘below her level’. It would be difficult for her to develop herself and grow professionally. This would make it difficult for her to be transferred abroad as that was also one of her ambitions.

I told her that she came across as a very proactive person to which she agreed. Not a type that would be passive if things didn’t go her way. All her entrepreneurial activities that she had undertaken in the past illustrated this. This would likely mean that if her career developed less quickly than she hoped, she would be creative and come up with solutions. After all, could she not consider herself the architect of her own development? There would be no need to wait for her employer to come around.

The next thing we discussed is whether there exists such a thing as ‘the wrong choice’. What had happened in the past when she made bad choices? Yes, when we discussed these we came to the conclusion that these all had a positive side. Besides this she had learned a lot from these choices.

We agreed that she would go for it. She would make a start with her first steps on the labour market in a starting function. With the full confidence that she could make use of her proactive approach & creativity if her career should develop in a direction that does not suit her.

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