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How to gain your first work experience, a work placement, employment?

By Andreja Jurček and Sabina Mikuletič Zalaznik

Where to start?

Before you start looking for a job, think about what you’re good at, what you know, what your values, interests, and personality traits are, what you enjoy doing in your free time and what competencies you have. Then think about what you want to do and where and what work environment do you prefer. It is desirable that you gain as much different experience as possible during your studies, whether through student work, work placements, volunteering, visits to work environments, project or research assignments, participating in extracurricular activities, attending career days, employer presentations, etc. This will help you learn which areas are of particular interest to you and which are not (this information is also very valuable!). It often happens that we imagine an area of work as interesting, but in practice we see that it is quite different from our ideas.


Set your employment goals

Once you answer the above questions, you’ll be one step closer to knowing what kind of job and/or career you want. This will make it easier for you to set your employment goals and make a plan that will enable you to achieve those goals. When setting goals, try to be as positive, concrete and constructive as possible. When you set goals, you chart a path that you want to take and a point you want to reach.

Write down and organise your goals. If you have too many goals, you may have problems achieving them all. Perhaps some of these goals are similar and can be combined into one. Rank your goals in order of importance and consider how long it will take you to achieve them, which ones can wait, which ones may lead you to achieve other goals, and so on. The SMART method, one of the most commonly used goal setting models, can be of help here. Set a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Once you have set your goals:

    Make a plan on how to achieve them. Break down your plan into smaller steps/tasks and get started on the first one as soon as possible. Make a timetable. Make a checklist and tick off finished tasks. Reward yourself! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Even if you encounter obstacles, try to focus on the goal and look for alternatives.

Write a good CV

Writing a good CV is definitely one of the first things you should do.   

Where to find opportunities?

Job vacancies are announced at the Employment Service of Slovenia, on employment portals, employment agencies, in the media, on the websites of companies and their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, etc. (some can also be found here).  

Since posted vacancies will be seen by many other jobseekers in addition to you, the number of applications to these posts is likely to be very high. When looking for a job, don’t limit yourself to these resources, but also look for opportunities in the hidden labour market.

Be curious and proactive, browse online, research companies and organisations that operate in your field of interest, connect with colleagues, ask your friends and teachers, contact former employers and organisations where you did a work placement or volunteering, think about the people you met at professional events, conferences, round tables, presentations, etc. You can also get in touch with companies at career fairs, hackathons, company presentations at faculties or visits to companies, company open days, via LinkedIn, alumni clubs, etc.

What other opportunities can I look for in the hidden labour market?

- Networking (connect with professors, acquaintances, relatives, join professional societies, alumni club, attend professional conferences, career fairs).

- Establish direct contact with employers (send your CV, explore the possibility of writing seminar and project papers, or a diploma thesis at a company).

- Search for jobs through various databases in line with your employment plan, even if there are no posted vacancies (Pirs, Bizi, Rabim Info, Kompass, Rumene strani, etc.).

- Look for opportunities to create new jobs (develop a proposal for a new activity, product, business idea for a new company and thus create new jobs).

- You can also use social networks to look for employment.

Tempted to become an entrepreneur?

Perhaps you prefer the idea of embarking on an entrepreneurial path rather than finding employment. If that is the case, we invite you to browse the websites that we have collected here.  

What other support is there?

Throughout the year, Career Centres hold workshops on employability skills and topics, such as: self-assessment finding employment writing a personal profile writing a CV, preparing for an interview the current labour market, A to Z of employability skills, using LinkedIn, work placement preparation, and smooth onboarding You can access current education and training courses, events, and job vacancies via the new new POPR platform (Personal and Professional Development Portal). The platform allows you to sign up for events, as well as free individual career guidance, where we will review your CV, help you prepare for a job interview or discuss your career plans.

Finding employment is a job on its own, so plan your activities accordingly and be consistent in achieving your employment goals. When looking for a job, use several approaches at the same time, as this will increase your chances of success. Be active, positive and persistent!

Good luck!

Recommended reading

    Guzelj, T. (2014). Kako do službe. Kako v 7 hitrih korakih priti do dobre zaposlitve, ko ni objavljenih prostih delovnih mest. Javno podjetje Uradni list Republike Slovenije, d.o.o.