Careers Advice

Keeping an Open Mind

Nicola tells us her top tips for 'keeping an open mind' when job hunting - and how it helped her land an exciting role!

Published: 11/07/2016

If you’ve recently graduated, you may find yourself missing the structure of university and thinking “I need to get a job… but where do I start?” You’re not alone!

Although I felt a huge sense of relief and accomplishment that I’d actually managed to write a 15,000 word dissertation and graduate with Distinction, I was also overwhelmed with the realisation that the next step would be to find a graduate-level job. However, in the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’”

Fast forward a month, and I was delighted to secure a temporary Christmas job in a retail shop whilst applying for marketing jobs. I had also been invited to deliver a presentation about my student experience to new MSc marketing students. I’m so glad I grasped the opportunity to deliver the presentation because, unbeknown to me, a careers adviser was in the audience who vouched for my presentation skills when I applied for my current role!

So, here are my tips on how you can make the most out of every opportunity to secure a graduate-level job by keeping an open mind.

Create Networks

Everyone you meet could be a useful resource at some stage in your career. For example, don’t write off your contacts from a temporary job in your quest to secure a graduate role, as it could open doors to further opportunities...

  • Who would have thought that my summer job working in a pub in Edinburgh would give me the inspiration for my dissertation research topic!? What’s more, I was able to call upon my manager as my main interviewee.
  • Whilst working temporarily in retail, my manager offered to put me in touch with their marketing agency to gain insight and experience.

Graduate Job Schemes – the only option?

It is a huge myth that graduates are only successful if they secure a role on a graduate scheme. It’s important to realise that this isn’t the only option. According to a recent survey over 100,000 graduate jobs are available for graduates out-with the “big schemes”, with 91% gaining graduate-level employment with companies that have less than 200 employees.

Take a look at our student and graduate placements for an idea of the opportunities that smaller companies can offer.

Broaden Your Horizons

There are many different routes to finding a job, so be prepared to be flexible. If there aren't many job opportunities directly related to your degree, keep an open mind and think again about the transferable skills your studies have equipped you with. Approximately 60% of graduate employers will consider graduates from any degree discipline, as long as they have the required skills.

Careers Fairs

It's so easy to contact employers and look for jobs online. However, don’t underestimate the advantage of speaking to recruiters, careers services, or other graduates face to face. An excellent way to access all of these groups is at a careers fair. Remember, if you put in the effort, you’ll get more out of a fair than a couple of freebies!

Some top tips:

  • Take a few minutes to highlight the exhibitors you’re interested in (but plan to talk to them all).
  • Make a good first impression and dress appropriately.
  • Bring a notepad and pen to note the information you find out. Ask questions!
  • Keep an open mind. Don’t just talk to employers and recruiters; network with other students too.
  • The ScotGrad Team attend university careers fairs throughout the year - come and practise with us first.


Hopefully after reading this article you’ll be even more willing to keep an open mind, and the graduate job hunt won’t seem quite so daunting. Good luck!

Written by: Nicola Meikle, ScotGrad