I’ve blogged before about problems with exams, but with results out last week it seemed timely to talk about what to do if things have really not gone according to plan. Don’t panic or despair. If plan A hasn’t worked out now, it’s the time to fashion Plan B.
Missed your grades for an offer?
If you have an offer of graduate employment and you have not got the degree class (of even the mark average) you needed, now is the time to hit the phone. Try to get through go graduate recruitment and make your case. What went wrong? Did you have any particular problems which you can point to (or better still evidence) which impacted your success? Was your path just a bit more complicated? If so, be ready to talk about this. Just saying vaguely that you had mitigating circumstances is unlikely to be sufficient. You are going to need to be very specific. Think carefully about how you might frame the discussion.
First, is the mitigating factor actually something which will command sympathy and understanding? The death of your pet hamster may indeed have been very upsetting, but it is unlikely to persuade employers to leniency. Second, are you actually able to talk about what happened? If you are still raw and upset and suspect that you cannot get through a conversation without crying, then set everything out in writing and phone graduate recruitment and ask to whom you should forward your email . Don’t just send it! Whether you make your disclosure in writing or verbally be precise with dates and the impact events had upon you. Don’t press for an immediate decision, ask if the employer is prepared to think about it and get back to you, ideally set a timeframe for the answer.
And if you can’t point to a reason for your disappointment?
You still need to make the call. Try to be confident and persuasive. You probably jumped through lots of hoops to get the employment offer. You’re still the same person the employer selected and it has already invested money in you and quite possibly can’t recruit anyone to replace you in the time available. You may find that you will be given the benefit of the doubt and have your offer confirmed.
Worst case scenario?
Your offer is not confirmed or perhaps you didn’t have an offer of anything anyway and were holding on to make job applications after graduation. Don’t despair – there are big graduate employers prepared to make offers to those who did not secure a 2.1 and plenty of smaller employers care about who you are and what you can offer and not what your degree certificate says. You are much, much more than just that degree class.
Back to the drawing board
What do you want to do? It’s important to review your aspirations and interests and think about how they might fit into the job market. Try to start this process afresh without looking back to your earlier plans.
Try asking yourself some questions and be really honest with yourself.
- Do you want to work with people or would you rather be in a quieter environment?
- Do you want lots of academic challenge in your job?
- Did you want to make a difference and help people?
- How important is money?
- Do you have a fixed location for the job which is important to you or can you be flexible about where you live?
- Are other people influencing your thinking? Parents maybe, or a partner? Are their thoughts and inputs disrupting your own planning processes? Do you want them to impact your next steps?
- How important is a good work life balance?
Try visualising your ideal job a few years down the line. Think about your working space, your daily life, the activities you would want to be involved in during working hours. Who is in your life with you, are there “significant others”?
Does this thought process bring you back to where you were before?
Good, now you are sure of your aspirations and can start to plan. If you wanted to be a solicitor then becoming a paralegal first looks like a good plan. Many firms will offer training opportunities to paralegals who have proved their worth.
Still want a graduate scheme? Also fine, there are plenty of graduate schemes which take students with 2.2 degrees and you can talk to careers to get a list of those we know about.
Think you want to do something completely different?
Well, your exam marks may well have helped you dodge a bullet (or a banana skin)! You may have been about to embark on a career which wasn’t right for you. You now have the excitement of finding the right job for you. You might want to try some different options to help you gain more experience and to build your self knowledge. Get some careers help too. We work over the summer and are looking forward to talking to you.
Since it’s the degree result time of year my colleague Siobhan Qadir has also blogged on this subject this week. She has some different insights and it’s worth reading her take as well.