Graduate Opportunities

For many students, the key reason for undertaking university study, is to gain the qualifications, knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to achieve their career goals.  These goals may be quite specific and tied to meeting requirements for a position or profession or they may be more general and tied to a desire to improve job prospects, income, career progression or job satisfaction.

Many students wonder what jobs or opportunities will be available to them when they complete their studies. The job outcomes for university graduates are many and varied.  The labour market is significantly changing as new technologies are introduced and businesses are finding new ways of working.

James Cook University graduates are working locally, nationally, and internationally in a variety of industries, occupations, and positions.  Graduates may choose to apply for specialist graduate positions, general ‘entry level’ positions, graduate programs, or establish their own business or other entrepreneurial venture. Graduates may be:

  • employed full time, part time, or casually for a fixed term or ongoing contract
  • an employee within a small, medium, or large organisation, a startup, an NGO (non-governmental non-profit organisation), or social enterprise or
  • self-employed, in a managerial position, freelancing, working as a consultant, or combining a number of these streams of income, as part of their portfolio career.

Specialist graduate positions

Specialist graduate positions require knowledge and specific technical or professional skills gained from a particular degree or degrees.  Often these degrees are authorised by an accrediting body, which reviews the course curriculum to ensure graduates meet entry-level professional requirements. Many students will pursue an entry level specialist graduate position that relates directly to their degree (Civil Engineer, Teacher, Pharmacist, Veterinarian or Physiotherapist). Other students will decide to utilise the range of skills they have gained in a broader career context.

General ‘entry level’ positions

Many graduates will secure positions that are not clearly defined as a graduate job, or do not require a specific degree. These general 'entry level' positions may be performed by graduates from a number of degrees and require skill sets which may be technical (e.g. data analysis) or more general (e.g. high-level written communication). Your university studies may assist you in providing evidence of the skills required for general entry level positions.

Many graduates do not know what they wish to specialise in. Therefore, they will either refine their specialisation focus throughout their career, or will choose to remain in generalist positions and develop a variety of skills in order to pursue multiple opportunities over the course of their working lives.

Graduate programs

Graduates may choose to apply for a clearly defined graduate program, which are mainly offered by larger organisations or government departments. Graduate programs offer structured professional development to new or recently graduated university students. The positions are designed to broaden your industry experience and advance you to more senior levels within the organisation. Graduate programs are different to a standard graduate position. While both enable you to work in your chosen industry, a graduate program will generally provide you with increased support, training, and mentoring.

Graduates programs generally recruit students early in their final year of study for commencement of employment in the following year. The programs may accept graduates who completed their studies anywhere within the last five years, but completion within the last two years is the most common requirement. Graduate programs tend to provide rotations through different work areas, are one to two years in length, and are mostly based in capital cities.

Benefits to graduates include:

  • Personal and professional development opportunities
  • Tailored mentoring support
  • Supportive environment
  • Opportunities to work in a number of different roles
  • Industry specific, on-the-job training.

Research by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) shows that most graduates choose to continue working for organisations after completion of their graduate program, and many will build long-term careers with this first graduate employer.

For further information on graduate program opportunities, please see:

Your own enterprise

Many graduates will initially look to work for an employer or organisation to gain experience and develop skills, but other graduates will choose to become contractors, consultants, or pursue their own business ideas from the start.

The Australian and State governments have a number of grants, programs, and other forms of support to help businesses to innovate, compete, and grow, such as:

JCU Alumni career paths

If you are unsure of where your degree can lead, the James Cook University LinkedIn Alumni page will help you explore the wide range of opportunities that JCU graduates have pursued. This page provides information on the career paths of over 55,000 JCU graduates who are registered on LinkedIn. You can identify graduates with your degree, major or skill set, and learn about the career paths they have taken since gaining their university qualifications. You can further narrow your search to find alumni in specific locations, companies, or occupations.

You will need to create a free LinkedIn profile to access the James Cook University LinkedIn page.