A number of opportunities await after graduation, but how do you decide which one is right for you? Getting a head start will give you more thinking space (and help you beat the competition!)
If you have read my previous blog, you would have seen that I have spent the past few months talking to graduates. What I am finding is that many are astounded at how difficult it really is to get a job in the field of their preference and the time this initial search is taking them . This comes as no surprise to me, since I was in a similar situation a few months ago. I’ve got to admit that I made sure to make every second count on my last semester, so I applied to jobs and opportunities quite early on.
You do not need the extra stress during your exams, so exploring your options and different avenues early on (preferably on your last academic year), puts you ahead of the competition and it means that you do not have to worry about it once you graduate. Imagine how good it must feel to have landed yourself a job knowing that all your focus and time can be put into your exams and organising your summer holiday? You do not want your ‘last stress-free’ summer holiday to be spent sitting in front of a computer applying for jobs and panicking.
As a previous graduate, who has gone through this and is now working full-time and speaking with graduates every day, I would suggest to start focusing on your post-graduate options now. The Christmas break is a brilliant opportunity to plan ahead. Below are a number of options which you could look at which might be helpful for recent or future graduates struggling to decide on a career path:
- Gap Year
A change in location might give you a new focus and perspective. As well, traveling or accomplishing those things on your bucket list might be more difficult to achieve once you begin your full time employment. However, it is key to remember that a gap year is a great opportunity to gain new experiences and skills, whilst giving you time to reflect on what you want to do next, so feeling fulfilled by the end of it should be your aim. It will also help add additional ‘life experience’ to your CV which employers really value.
Internships offer the best of both worlds and are a great way to find out what working for an industry or a specific company involves. It is important to choose the right opportunity that gives you a good experience, especially since most internships are unpaid. This is also a great route to take before full-time employment.
- A Master’s Degree programme
This exposes you to a variety of subjects, aiding your personal development. If you decide to do a Master’s degree then be sure that it fits with your long-term plans as it is not cheap. It is worth asking, will this help my employment prospects?
- Full time job
Good for those who would like to go straight into work and put their theory into practice. This also allows you to start your career at an early stage, gain experience and earn money! However, if you are trying to put your degree to use and find a job within the field of your studies, bear in mind that it may be difficult to find the perfect role in a specific field. Finding your first ‘proper job’ is not easy so the idea of starting from the bottom should not put you off.
- It is all up to you
There is no right or wrong answer. It is never too late to change your mind and chart a new way for your career. You will have gained so many transferable skills from university which will be relevant to many jobs. These jobs may not be immediately connected to your degree discipline but your degree will never go to waste. Some of these skills include things such as independence, critical thinking, organizational skills, team work, time management and many more. In our experience, many employers will be more interested in your interpersonal/life skills and abilities than your specific degree discipline.
- You have plenty of time if you get started soon
- Do not compare yourself to your friends, your choice and decision is yours to make
- You are definitely not alone
For those of you looking to go into full time employment after university, my next blog will give you a few tips on applying for your first ‘proper’ job, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.