Golden Key Member Spotlight: João Paulo Aguiar Moreira
In the context of Golden Key’s efforts to support its network and boost its personal and professional development, I thought I could share a handful of lessons I have learned in my journey from graduating university to finding an entry point into the labour market. Let me start with a little bit of background.
After graduating with a Master’s degree in International Development from La Trobe University in December 2020, I have been involved in the task of finding an internship opportunity and taking the first steps towards a socially driven career in the international development sector.
This has been a long and challenging process that certainly had its ups and downs. Given my background in law, it was particularly difficult to adapt my resume, cover letters, and references to an appealing format for employers within the field. Later, as the interview opportunities started to show up, I had to completely rethink how I could communicate my previous experiences and translate them into actionable skills for the role at stake.
I wish I could say I found the definitive recipe for it, but the truth is that it was a tentative process, filled with lots of trial and error. But it all paid off: I have recently received a job offer for an exciting internship role at the United Nations Global Compact, which has everything to do with what I studied and aspire to do in my professional future.
As I reflect on the lessons I have learned along the way, a few come to mind.
First, look for help! Although this has been an intimate journey to a certain degree, I definitely could not have done it alone. I had the privilege of interacting with countless experienced professionals to learn a great deal from their stories. I also took advantage of an industry mentoring program offered by my university, which allowed me to interact closely with a senior professional in the field over 12 weeks.
The more people you engage with, the more prepared you became to deal with the selection processes ahead of you.
Second, don’t stop learning! During this nine months hiatus, while I was applying for roles, I made a personal commitment to keep learning new skills to further sophisticate my employability. I believe there is a significant loss of opportunity when someone involved in the “application phase” assumes this is a period of “hopeful expectation”.
Instead, I invite those struggling with this phase to be proactive and take advantage of to learn new skills that could be useful for future applications. To me, this took the shape of learning Spanish – a language that I always admired and whose mastery would inevitably benefit me in the context of an internationally-focused sector.
Third, organization is key! Dealing with the process of applying for roles as if it was your actual job is absolutely crucial. To do so, you have to be organized. This involves setting specific (and non-negotiable) moments throughout your week to survey new openings and prepare your applications. It also entails being systematic when it comes to testing new approaches to resume writing, interview presentations, or seeking feedback regarding your performance.
Although I realize that my experiences might not be translatable to everyone else, I sincerely hope that someone struggling with job applications could find some inspiration here.
I know that this can be an exhausting process, but perhaps the best advice I could give is “don’t give up”. Only those who persist through the inevitable “no’s” will be successful at the end of the day. And the prize for those who do is a chance to tip your career in a direction that is meaningful to you. Definitely worth it if you ask me!