I’m about to start working, what now?

Written by | Clubs, NOVA Students' Union, Opinion

In this text I’ll leave my personal point of view to the 3 main questions that tormented me when it was finally time to leave the Calculus integrals and the barbecues at NOVA to start my working life. Do not use this article in a “he’s totally right” way but see it as a personal opinion that may or may not help you make some decisions.

“Consultancy, banking, FMCG? What do I really want?”

Obviously this is purely a personal choice and everyone knows their own preferences. The truth is that almost no one knows what they really want to do right after they finish their studies, especially in such a broad area as Management. However, you can normally have a broad idea of what your preferences are. Here are a few tips to help you decide on which industry and role you would like to work:

  • – Always remember which courses you enjoyed doing and which ones you didn’t like. It’s very likely that you won’t enjoy working in a Bank if you’ve been your whole Academic life running away from the Finance class;
  • – Do other things apart from going to classes and studying. Luckily, NOVA offers hundreds of options for you to do something extra. Try them! NOVA SU, NOVA Skills, NOVA Junior Enterprise, AIESEC, and much much more. They all work like little companies inside the NOVA world, where you cannot only grow personally and professionally, but also better understand your preferences and strengths;
  • – Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get opinions from your friends, colleagues and mentors that are working in a specific industry. They know what you’re going through because they’ve been there themselves and they are the best ones to explain you how a certain job is and to give you an insider perspective.

I chose to start in Marketing in the FMCG world because I’ve always been fascinated in understanding how consumers behave and how to use that knowledge to communicate with them in a creative way. However, I haven’t rolled out other industries when it was time to apply for jobs, because you never know what you really like until you try it.

“Should I stay in Portugal or go abroad?”

Again, this is an extremely personal subject. I chose to come abroad (London) and I don’t regret it at all. I’ve decided to live abroad because I believe that it’s too early to settle down and stay in the same place forever, given that there’s so many things to do and to learn. I’ve left Portugal with one certainty: I will come back and nothing will stop me from doing it. I don’t regret it because I see that here my work is recognised and I’m given the perfect opportunities to learn and progress in my career. If you think you would like to work abroad but are afraid of the changes, here is my point of view regarding the main questions/myths that might be tormenting you:

  • Will I adapt to working in a foreign office, full of foreign people? You very likely will! And this is for two reasons: 1) You study at NOVA, which means you have already worked with people from all around the world, and you most likely did Erasmus or any other international program; 2) The company that hires you will have already hired hundreds of foreign people; you will be going to an office full of people from every corner of the world and everyone is naturally used to it so the transition will be smooth;
  • Will I settle in a new city, where I don’t know anyone? This can be, of course, a challenge in the beginning. You don’t have a lot of friends there and you are focused on performing well in your job, so you end up having less time to meet new people. However, you will find out that this first stage goes by very quickly, as long as you use every opportunity you have to get more comfortable with the city and the people there. Go to social events organised by your company, go out with friends from work and explore the city, even if alone. You will find out that you’ll feel it as a second home much sooner than expected. And, of course, there’s always a Portuguese everywhere so you will probably end up finding out that Carlos from high school is also living there;
  • – And what about my family and friends in Portugal? Well, you will miss them of course, and they will miss you. But luckily we’re in 2017: flights are getting cheaper each day and Skype is free, so you can always catch up with them. And, unless you live in Australia, you can come to Portugal a few times a year and, I’m telling you, it just makes you appreciate your country and the people even more. And, obviously, you can always come back!

“What about the interviews?? Panic attack!”

CVs, motivation letters, LinkedIn, online tests, case studies, interviews… Just by reading this, you’re already feeling sick, am I right? I totally get it and I felt the exact same way. But there’s absolutely no reason for unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you prepare it well and feel confident about it, the recruitment process will be very smooth. This is the first time you can show how good you really are without just writing answers on a piece of paper – you can really show you’re different from the others. So use this opportunity to stand out! Here are a few tips to help you feel more confident during the recruitment processes:

  • – Your CV is a very important first step. It will be your new employer’s first impression of you. Make sure you make your biggest accomplishments stand out and don’t write too much – they won’t read it all, so you want them to focus on the big things! Show your CV to your close friends and ask them to show you theirs (if they want). Each person has their own CV but taking a look at other versions will help you get ideas;
  • – People usually forget about LinkedIn. In my opinion, it’s a very important touchpoint, although probably not the most important one. Nowadays, all employers are on LinkedIn and they will search for you, so ensure you have an updated profile. This is your opportunity to add more detail and personal touch to your CV, and explain better what you did in each of your previous experiences;
  • – And now the interview! It’s very important to know very well what are your strengths and weaknesses, as well as to know what to expect from an interview and prepare for it. But don’t prepare it too much, because they will notice it was rehearsed! The people interviewing you were once where you are now and what they are looking for is someone they can relate to, that talks naturally and shows confidence (but not too much!).
  • – Don’t be afraid of asking your friends, colleagues, teachers and alumni for help and tips, if you know they’ve been in a similar situation before.
  • – Finally, don’t let any rejection destroy your confidence. I was rejected in the recruitment for a lot of companies, however I’m working for P&G, which was one of my first choices. Each failed recruitment process is a learning, and the main thing is how we use that in our favour.

Going from Uni to the work life will always be something new and it will inevitably have some obstacles along the way. But, as with everything, we all can handle it and make our way through it. Nova is amazing in preparing its students to this transition and now it’s up to you to be ready for the challenge. One thing I can assure you: the feeling of hearing a “yes” after all the work and stress of the recruitment process is one of the best feelings ever.

Henrique Alves Figueiredo

Henrique has a Bachelors in Management degree and a CEMS MIM Masters in International Management, both at Nova. He was President of Nova Students’ Union in 2014/2015 and Calculus I teaching assistant in 2015/2016. He now works in London as Assistant Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble. He’s a big football fan (Sporting!) and likes comedy tv shows (Friends!).

Last modified: 01/10/2017