Posts Tagged ‘gap year’

I keep asking myself this question:

What would I do differently if I was to migrate as a graduate again?

The answer below comes only after a few years of education and living in the UK. It is not a comprehensive list of how to migrate, as each person is not alike, has diverse needs, different set of values and life aims. Nonetheless, the ideas raised below could serve as a starting point for many graduates in transition into labour market, and considering moving abroad.

If you want to move places, begin with a thorough research of your expectations–>

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO AFTER YOU ARRIVE?

This may be a trivial point, but even if someone is going away for a gap year, which involves taking time out either before going to university, during your course or afterwards, according to the UK career advisory websites for students and graduates, you should not think of it as a break from your career.

Prospects‘ advise you to “keep in mind how you will capitalise on the skills and experiences gained to boost your CV“. This simply means, ‘you should not retire, before  you get properly tired’. Even during travelling you have to act towards building your personal capital, if not the human one (education and numbers of years spent on it, language knowledge, and so on…).

I will briefly explain the term of personal capital, as it refers to a very important aspect of migration planning – SELF IDENTITY and REFLEXIVITY (Giddens, 1991).

Tomer (2003:456) describes personal capital as “an individual’s basic personal qualities”, including the “quality of an individual’s psychological, physical, and spiritual functioning”. Brown and Hesketh (2004:220) argue that personal capital is closely related to “self-identity” the understanding of which influences the future success of the potential knowledge worker.

The notion of “self identity” was introduced by Giddens (1991:5), who argues that the modern individual faces a diversity of possible selves, as the identity is no longer structured in advance, through social hierarchies (which extent varies across different cultures). He disputes that identity is not a collection of traits either, but an ongoing process of reflexivity about the individual’s personal biography. Thus, the available choices of for instance travel, education, job, meeting new acquaintances, provide the individuals with an opportunity of production of an ongoing story about their lives.

In part, individuals have to plan their future life,  and continuously build up their biographies with a reflexive outlook on “who I am” and “how I am to live” (Giddens, 1991:5). In other words, personal capital is “who we are and what we have done in our lives beyond education” (ibid.).

Thus, the question of what you want to do after migration deserves a more careful attention. This is mainly because you should break it into three other relevant ‘sub-questions’:

  1. What type of employment YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURSUE OR FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT, AND WHY?
  2. What is the REALITY OF THE PLACE YOU WANT TO MIGRATE LIKE?
  3. What are the CONSTRAINTS FOR YOUR CAREER DEVELOPMENT?

Let me take you on a personal journey through all those questions listed above.

Once you embark on the task of answering the first one – very well done, you have commenced the cycle. This means, that the journey is non-linear, or even to put it stronger, it is unpredictable. You may find yourself returning to all three questions respectively, trying to solve the issues arising or indeed, tick the boxes of concerns that you have resolved. It all depends on the process of doing internal and external research – asking questions inwards, and outwards. The answers may arrive on the impulse or gradually.

It is necessary to begin the journey with the question one, as it refers directly to YOU.

It asks about how well you know yourself, how advanced you are in reflecting on your life, preferences, needs, dreams and even fears. It also refers to your strengths and weaknesses, which could be applied in work places and personal life. You need that time to reflex and reflect on your self-identity, or as Plato (1992: 189E–190A) says:

“I mean the conversation which the soul holds with
herself in considering of anything. I speak of what I
scarcely understand; but the soul when thinking
appears to me to be just talking – asking questions of
herself and answering them, affirming and denying.
And when she has arrived at a decision, whether gradually or by sudden impulse, and has at last agreed, and
does not doubt, that is called her opinion”.

I will suggest a few steps to follow, which may help you to advance in finding answers about yourself:

  • DO THE PERSONALITY TEST and other psychometric assessments

Different firms of psychologists developed a range of different questionnaires which measure personality preferences. They all follow the pioneer personality assessment developed by a psychologist Carl Jung, with the most well known Jungian type instrument – the ‘Myers Briggs Type Indicator‘ (MBTI).

According to MBTI, personality type is measured through four sets of opposite preferences:

Extraversion – Introversion

Sensing- iNtuition

Thinking-Feeling

Judging-Perceiving

This way an individual could be described in terms of any one of sixteen possible four letter combination e.g. ISTJ..

The most thorough and free of charge testing is available for the UK students and graduates  at the universities they are enrolled in to. If you are not a student/Alumni of the UK HI, there are various organisations that could run those tests for you, such as: Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), devised by American Psychologist David Keirsey. This is a very well researched personality type instrument, and similar to MBTI.

By clicking on this link you will be taken directly to the test. After the test you will be given a mini report for free. If you wish to get a full report you will have to pay an additional fee.

Another option is the Big Personality Test which was designed by BBC Lab UK and Child of Our Time in collaboration with Professor Michael Lamb and Dr Jason Rentfrow of Cambridge University.

The Big Five test, or ‘Five Factor’ personality test, is a widely recognised and well-used scientific measure of personality. It measures:

  • Openness – do you like novel ideas, creative experiences and different values.
  • Conscientiousness – are you organised, strategic and forward-planning.
  • Extroversion – how attracted you are to social, stimulating experiences.
  • Agreeableness – do you consider feelings of others and how easily you form bonds with people.
  • Neuroticism – how you react to perceived threats and stressful situations.

There are a few other personality questionnaires, well described with some suggestions where to take them, available on this websitehttp://www.markparkinson.co.uk/psychometric_links.htm.

 

  • BROWSE FOR ROLE DESCRIPTIONS AND ROLE SPECIFICATIONS FOR EACH TYPE OF JOB YOU CONSIDER 

This exercise will help you to meet your perception of the job, with the REALITY of what it really entails  and if the principles agree with you or not. A good source of job roles, and commonly referred by career advisers for students and graduates in the UK is PROSPECTS. This official graduate career website is an excellent database for general jobs browsing, how to plan your career and how to look at the skills and match with the career path you would like to pursue in the UK and elsewhere.

TARGETjobs is another useful website. Once you register, you can use their career planner. Their Careers Report uses questionnaires and psychometric tests to explore your interests, strengths, personality and abilities and matches you to jobs that would suit you. The report is free for registered users.

At this stage you may have realised that the job descriptions, requirements as described on those two useful websites may differ to what you have imagined so far, or perhaps experienced to some extent in your home country. This is a good point to observe, as it will allow for adjustment to a different mode of thinking of who you are, what do you want, what skills/traits you have and how these could be used or developed further in your home country, and after migration to the UK.

I would suggest to keep the process of learning about yourself OPEN and INTENSIVE. You also should bear that in mind that in the UK career advisory practices are available for school children from the age of  13 to 19 (and up to 25 in certain circumstances), then at universities throughout the country and through other organisational units for adults (National Careers Service; netmums). Therefore, upon migration you may discover that operating in labour market in the UK is very much based on the continuous life-long learning principle and reflecting process, widely practiced by employees and employers alike.

So far, responsible for these was Connexions (from 1999, following the Learning and Skills Act), which was the independent information, advice, guidance and support service for all young people. The organisation provided “impartial information, advice and guidance to young people, to help remove barriers to learning and progression and enable them to make the transition into adulthood and working life(A1).

Currently, in place of Connexions came National Careers Service, established in April 2012, which is publicly funded careers service for adults and young people (aged 13 or over) in England.

Therefore, there is plenty of career advice and support with careers’ development, and it is vital to know that your career paths can be taken care of. It is only up to you to show your agency/activity in finding out of who you are, your values and life aims. Once you start the process, the answers will start arriving as Plato (1992) says, gradually and by impulse. 

I will answer the two remaining questions on reality and constraints in my next post. Simply keep in tuned for updates  (–> and FOLLOW my blog :)

 

Bibliography:

Brown, P., and Hesketh, A. (2004), The Mismanagement of Talent: Employability and Jobs in the Knowledge Economy, Oxford University Press

Giddens, A. (1991), Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in Late-Modernity, Cambridge: Polity Press

Plato (1992), Theaetetus, ed. B Williams. Cambridge and Indianapolis: Hackett

Tomer, J. F. (2003), Personal Capital and Emotional Intelligence: An Increasingly Important Intangible Source of Economic Growth, Eastern Economic Journal, 29(3): 453-470