You've Graduated! What's next?
So, you’ve finished University and for the first time in a while (or maybe for the first time ever), you’ve got some freedom. But what’s next? That’s a pretty loaded question, but you know what? It’s your decision to make. There are a few options, and I’m here to talk about the most popular ones.
First things first. Everyone will have their own individual ideas about what they want to do now, but there is no one size fits all. I remember feeling really worried about one particular option but hey, guess what? You don’t need to listen to anyone who tries to panic you by saying that you should have “signed up to a grad scheme months ago”.
Of course, if you’re going ahead on a graduate scheme, that’s amazing. They give you a foot in the door in some really competitive industries. But if you’re unsure about your next steps, that’s absolutely fine, too.
When I graduated, I ended up working for the company I interned with as part of my degree, although I didn’t get to work solely for the marketing department to start with – I had to spend half the time working in reception.
However, I was grateful for the opportunity (and the free haircuts, as it was a salon), and it was a stepping stone until I landed my first specifically content-based role and moved to Leeds. There is no shame in taking an unrelated job while you figure out what you want to do.
Some people go back and study more, but it’s not for everyone. I know I personally couldn’t wait to be done with academia, but now that I’ve been graduated for four years, I wouldn’t rule it out for my future.
Some professions, like teaching, require you to go back. Other people just genuinely love learning. My friend Sarah is passionate about archaeology, and it’s really inspiring to see. Plus, when she finishes her PhD I’ll be able to say I’m friends with a doctor!
If you’re happy in an education environment, that’s awesome. Just make sure that you’re doing it to learn more, and not just because you’re afraid to do anything else.
Applying for a job as a graduate can be hard, especially when you’re dead set on one in a particular field. It’s a little daunting, because for the first time, employers will probably be interested in what you know, and not just the fact that you can pull a decent pint. There are loads of entry level jobs across the board online; on normal job sites such as Indeed, Monster and Total Jobs.
Going for it can take some confidence, but just remember – someone’s got to get the job, so why not you? If you get knocked back, be sure to ask for feedback. It could help you in the future; everything’s a learning curve and the interview experience is invaluable.
Of course, to get skills in anything you’ll probably need experience. If your CV is looking a little blank, maybe it’s time to do an internship. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to work for free, but thankfully, lots of these are now paid at a fair wage. Try to look out for these, or alternatively, seek part-time employment to help you along the way.
If you’re feeling a bit confused right now, try not to panic. Honestly, this is a pretty liberating time. If you’re feeling a little stuck, it’s completely natural to be overwhelmed, which is why your university haven’t slammed the doors shut on you. You can always go to them for career advice, whether you need help doing interview prep, or just creating a stand-out CV.
Not everything needs to be “by the book”, and a lot of people these days are crafting out their own paths. I’m actually a full-time freelancer these days, which means I can – and do – work from all over the world. If you’ve got some skills, you could consider starting your own business, just like I did.
In the meantime, travel the world if you can afford it, or take a breather (you’ve earned it). Whether you choose, a graduate scheme, working, interning, going it alone, or even travel – remember that this isn’t it, set in stone, forever. You can change your mind numerous times... even if your parents do disagree!