It’s May, and once again there are swathes of people up and down the country excited about their graduation, spending their time and energy getting their outfits ready for the big day. But once you graduate, what does happen next? Moving back home and living with your parents or taking a job in a pub and using all you money to pay your rent may seem like a step backwards but it’s all towards a good final course! There are plenty of paths to consider and here are the most common ones, including the advantages and pitfalls:
Well, this is what you want, right? As does everyone else you talk to? Graduate jobs pay well (well, better than the average), they look good on your CV, and they show that you did well in your degree and reassure you that it wasn’t waste of time.
However, at this time of year, it’s likely that you will have had to have started earlier in applying for one, so if you are only thinking about a graduate job now, you might have to wait until next year. Who could blame you for not being able to concentrate on uni work, extra curricular activities and applying for a job all at the same time? It’s hard to be quite that keen. So you can start looking for one now, but in the mean time, you might have to undertake voluntary work, and obtain another job while you are applying.
However, you may find, having gained a graduate job, that it's not what you expected. If you really know what industry you want to be in, and you've found somethind ideal, then that's great, however most don't and you may find that your so-called graduate job is just a admin job with a path to nowhere.
Taking some time out, or an internship may give you more of an opportunity to try out different types of working environments, however even if you do choose to move you'll have plenty to show for it!
If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, further studying in the form of a postgraduate degree (normally a taught or research Master’s followed by a Doctorate) can be a good option. It gives you a little more time to think about what you’d like to do, especially if you enjoyed uni and the studying aspect of it and would like to carry on learning.
Postgraduate education is becoming a more popular option as it shows that you are dedicated to a field. It can also be especially useful if you took a fairly general undergraduate degree, for example History or English. You can tailor your postgraduate degree towards something more vocational, for example Marketing or Museum Studies, giving you an extra advantage when it comes to working in these fields when you graduate. Just remember to do a course where you actually want that job at the end of it!
This year postgraduate loans are coming into force, and will be offered in a similar way to the undergraduate loan, where you will have to start paying it back when you earn over a certain amount. This means that to study for a Master’s you won’t have to take out a private loan with lots of interest which is difficult to pay back or not be able to go to uni because you can’t afford it.
Lots and lots of students take a temporary job when they leave university. Bar and retail work are common options, whilst you might also want to think about registering with a temping agency that can offer you temporary office work.
From working you’ll gain a wealth of skills that employers want, for example team work and communication, which you can tell employers about when you go to interviews. You might also gain leadership skills and if you are lucky you might find yourself landing a permanent role within a company if there is the right vacancy for you. Working, whether it’s full-time or part-time, also shows that you are driven and are not just someone that waits for a role to land in their lap. If you only have a part-time job, consider volunteering somewhere at the same time to increase your skillset.
Whilst you are working in these roles you are also getting a feel for the outside world, life after university, and what you want to do next, so that when you are applying for a so-called “proper job” you might have more of an understanding of what you want and can be picky about what you apply for.
An internship or work placement
Internships and work placements are a good option for a number of reasons. If you know which field you want to go into, but haven’t managed to get a permanent role internships and work placements offer you the ability to gain some valid work experience in the right industry which will stand you in good stead when you come to apply for a full-time position. Furthermore, an internship or work placement offers you the ability to understand what an industry is about, what happens on a day-to-day basis, and what a career path within the industry might look like, from which you decide whether the industry is for you. There’s nothing wrong with deciding that you didn’t like the placement, as your skills and experience will count, whilst you can go to future employers with more of an idea of what you are looking for and the type of employee you would be in a firm.
Unfortunately, internships and work placements are often poorly paid and are often only available in larger cities, so to afford to undertake one it might well be the case that you have to dip into the bank of mum and dad or be lucky enough to have parents that already live in a city so you can live at home.
Thought that everyone went on a gap year after college? You were wrong! People of all ages now go on gap years so you'll never miss out. However, if you would like a break from studying and don’t want to join the rat race just yet, travelling and seeing the world might sound like the option for you.
A year or two abroad will give you the chance to think about what you really want to do, and when you come back to apply for jobs, you might find that you can settle into something on equal terms as your friends who have also been looking for a "proper job" for a couple of years.
If you undertake work while on your gap year, in the same way as those in part-time work, temp work or voluntary work, you’ll have the vital skills that employers need when you apply for positions.
Have a thriving online store selling your hand-made pots? Or perhaps you're a vlogger with over two million subscribers? In this digital world there are more and more opportunities to gain employment in a non-traditional way as well as more opportunities to learn new and technical skills by yourself. If you've got a good idea, lots of universities now have a start-up hub to help you start or grow your own business. They'll offer you support and the opportunity to connect and meet others in your industry, and might even be able to offer you some funding to help you get started. Even if your plan fails in the long run, you'll have gained all those essential skills to take to employers, and will probably have more of an understanding about what you want to do.