Entry level roles are a great way to cut your teeth in your industry of choice, make your early mistakes, learn about the organisation and industry from ground level up and prove your value. You may then move into a higher role in that company or move to another organisation to progress. You may even end up heading down a slightly different track to what you thought you’d love to do as you find your place and your industry.
Social sciences and criminology graduate Jana Nee started at Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust in an entry level role as a Whānau Ora navigator.
Over her six years at the trust Jana moved through five different roles, including social media coordinator. She worked across a number of divisions, gained new skills and took on various levels of responsibility.
“Your degree is an awesome starting point but keep an open mind and be flexible because there are always different avenues that pop up and offer new opportunities for you to transfer and build skills,” says Jana who is now AUT Takawaenga Māori (Māori liaison advisor).
Jade Bradley’s first job after graduation was operations executive – not exactly the role she had imagined entering when she embarked on her HR and marketing business degree at AUT.
"Operations executive didn’t sound like anything to do with my degree, but it actually was a marketing media role. I looked after advertising campaigns etc. It was a great first graduate role in marketing and I learned heaps,” says Jade.
Jade now works for AUT talenthub, an on campus recruitment and placement agency for AUT students. She encourages graduates to look at all jobs in their sector when they pop up on job boards, feeds or talenthub email notifications.
“The company, the team and the activities you do in your first job are far more important than the job title yet we have had students choosing not to apply for roles because they don’t think the job title is right!” explains Jade.
For example, a recent graduate placed by AUT talenthub began as an automation tester. In less than one year she has moved into a software developer role. Another graduate went to Cin7, where he worked as technical support specialist for 10 months, and now has moved into a junior software developer role.
Sales positions also can offer great entry level opportunities, says AUT employability relationship manager Rachel Shareef.
“You build skills in relationship building and accounts management and enhance your communication skills and understanding of the workplace. It also helps you explore the industry and other roles within it. For example, if you’re selling a product there may be opportunities to move into roles such as marketing the product or getting involved in the supply chain. If you’re selling a service, there may be opportunities to move into operational roles or roles that are more hands on within that service area.”
Want more evidence? Look at the work experience of more senior LinkedIn profiles. A health manager will often start in an associate or coordinator role, then move up the ladder with experience. Most marketing or communication managers begin their careers as assistants, or in roles that don’t mention the term ‘marketing’ or ‘communications’. A mechanical engineering graduate may start as a machine operator.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking a specialist organisation won’t have roles for you. Look past their core business. For example, Audit NZ employs 300 ICT staff as well as accountants. Communications media companies need IT specialists, web developers and accountants, as well as communication graduates, illustrators and graphic designers. A creative production company needs accountants and administrators. A company selling nuts and bolts needs graphic designers and HR.
Your ideal role could be using your skills in an organisation that caters to your favourite hobby or something that you have a passion for. I know a data analyst that works for a professional sporting organisation.
And don’t overlook the peculiar. AUT software development graduate Brian Kong landed a great graduate role when he applied for a system ninja role with Readiness IT.
Written by AUT Employability careers writer Angela McCarthy