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What to do after University?

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So, your course is nearing to an end. But what next? For many final year students about to graduate, now’s when the panic starts to set in. You’re about to leave the comfort of University, your student accommodation, and all that free time, and you’ll have to finally try to make it in the big, wide world. Sound terrifying? Well, when I put it like that, maybe. The secret, however, is that it’s actually not that bad after all – you just have to have a plan in mind for what’s next!

I left University in 2013. It’s not even been two years, but I swear, it feels like a lifetime ago. Enjoy these last few months, and everything that it brings. Remember though, the end is in sight, and there are pastures new to look forward to. My main piece of advice? Please don’t stress about grad schemes. Those dreaded things seem to be all anyone can talk about, but in reality, you don’t need to get onto one to become successful. Yes, they’re great, but I didn’t even bother. Too much paperwork, if I’m honest. There are so many alternatives out there, you just need to know where to look!

Before you leave University, make use of the careers department. Get advice on how to write a decent CV, including how long it should be, what to include, and what not to – I see that week you did working in an ice cream shop. Get rid of it, nobody cares! You should also familiarise yourself with other options and ways to apply for jobs. There are tons of student job seeking sites, but you know, there’s nothing stopping you using some of the ‘normal’ ones, too. I got my first couple of ‘proper’ jobs using Indeed, and I think they actually got relatively few new graduates applying because I suppose it is rather intimidating! In fairness, even then, most will ask for experience, and that’s where my next bit of advice comes in. Make use of the time you have NOW to get some last minute skills and work experience. It’ll be so crucial when you leave University, so whether you intern, or just develop a hobby that you’re passionate about that’ll teach you employable skills, jump right in. You might feel like there’s too much on right now, but honestly, I feel like experience counts just as much as your degree, and if you have none, your degree becomes seriously devalued. Better to be a bit busy now, than totally bored and unemployed in six months’ time! You can even turn these things into freelance (for example if you blog or design), which actually reduces your need for a conventional job anyway. Sweet!

When looking for your first job, sadly there will be costs associated. Start saving now! I remember coach trips back and forth to Leeds and London. Not exactly very glam, but it was a great way to go to agency meetings and interviews on a budget. Save enough for some decent interview outfits – more than one in case you’re asked to a trial or a second round of interviews. And don’t wear shorts. Even if they’re cute and ‘business like’. I learned this the hard way! Some places are more casual, like my current workplace, but just play it safe to start! My final word of warning would be to be careful of some recruiters – their jobs are cut throat, and some will mess you around to get what they want, which doesn’t help you at all. Others are lovely – I had one girl at an agency actually cry when I inexplicably didn’t get a job at the last minute. She quit a few weeks later, and added me on Facebook. Some really do have your best interests at heart, so just make sure you find a gem!

Of course, your path is entirely your choice. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, that’s totally fine. Travel a little, relax, and get to grips with the old cliché – go find yourself! You’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you, and not all jobs or grad schemes or lifestyles are built for everyone. Your career can change at any point, so never be afraid to make mistakes, and just live life while you’re young.

Liberty Living provides student accommodation in 17 university cities across the UK, including student accommodation in Birmingham, student accommodation in London, student accommodation in Manchester plus many more.

Posted on 24th April 2015 by Claire L.

Claire Louise Sheridan lives and works in Peterborough. She recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication Studies from the University of Liverpool.

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