What to Do After UniversityBy David Thompson
Deciding what to do once university ends and seminars and lectures no longer fill your schedule can be difficult. This is especially difficult because many young graduates may not have been free of academia before, and this is the first time that you will be able to decide your own path and future. Then, if you are struggling to know what you should do now that your course is wrapping up, here are some of the steps that you should take after university that can set you up for a bright future.
Find a Great Career
Although you may have had some idea of the career path that you wanted to follow from early childhood, many people have no idea what career they want to have until they are much older, and even though you have a university degree, this does not mean that you are any closer to deciding on the career path that you want to follow. Many people find that they take a degree only to lose interest in the career that correlates to this qualification, or that they only take a degree so that they can pursue graduate-level jobs, and that their degree is not in a subject that they are particularly passionate about or that has great job prospects. Then, one of the first steps that you need to take when you leave university is to decide what career you want to do, whether this aligns with your interests or passions, or what you want to give to the world. For instance, you might look into nursing if you want to help people and make an impact on the world, and if this is the case, you should look into why choose nursing as a career as this can help you to decide whether this career option is the right decision for you and the future lifestyle that you covet.
Take Another Qualification
Often, it can be difficult to leave the safety and familiarity of academia for something a little bit different, such as the world of work or an internship. Although many people are raring to get out into the world and start their careers, this is not always the case. Then, if you feel reluctant to go and are desperate to continue your learning and study further, you should consider taking another qualification. Although it is important to do this for the right reasons, such as if you need an additional qualification to kickstart your career, and not because you are unable to find a job, taking another qualification can help you to beat the competition when you finally do get into the world of work and can allow you to prepare for every eventuality. However, you should also consider the cost and time that this qualification will take and whether the benefits, such as increased pay and more job opportunities, are worth the effort and money that you will be putting into this decision in the short term.
Take a Break
Sometimes, the stress of university or college might have got too much for you, with many students developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression throughout their time at university. If this is the case, you should consider taking a break after university rather than rushing into a job that will consume your time and leave you at further risk of burnout. Then, if you have the financial resources to do so, you should consider waiting a while before you commit to a big decision like finding a job, and instead take some time to reflect on your university years, recover from the stress of your examinations, and figure out what you want to do next. Not only can this lead to better decision-making in the long term but taking a break can also broaden your perspective and give you the time to research different opportunities that you have not heard of before. You may also be able to work on your own projects that can boost your skillset and which you might even be able to turn into a full career in the future. Many people also use the time directly after university to travel the world. Traveling the world or going on a trip can help to give you some perspective, especially if you immerse yourself within the culture of the countries that you visit and speak to the locals, and you may even be able to get ideas for your career or see how industries in other countries operate.
Look for a Temporary Job
However, sometimes, the best step that you can take is to look for any job that comes your way, instead of waiting a long time to find a job that you believe is suitable for you. Not only is this important for people who need to make money and stabilize their finances but looking for a temporary position is also important as it can plug any gaps in your resume and ensure that potential employers know that you are interested in working. You will also be able to use this opportunity to get a reference, to begin to understand the world of work and the hierarchies that exist, and even to boost your soft skills, such as your communication and problem-solving skills. You will then be able to apply what you have learned to the next job that you do. Then, you should consider looking around for local jobs in your area on job boards such as Indeed or even by giving your resume out to businesses near you, or you should consider visiting the careers websites of popular companies that you could imagine working for to see what they have on offer. It is even better if you find even the smallest role within your industry, but this is not a necessity. This will make sure that you can then drop straight from university into work and stay occupied while you are searching around for a job that you believe is your dream role.
Look for Internships
After university, you should also consider looking around for internships that might interest you and that will allow you to thrive in a working environment before moving on to a professional position. There are many different internships on offer with big, recognizable niches in most industries that you could be interested in, and so you will usually be able to find an internship that meets your needs when it comes to career progression. You will usually be part of this internship for at least a few months, although some can go on for a year as you learn new skills and get trained in a fully working environment. However, internships are not always that easy to find, and you may struggle to find one that suits you, especially since some of the positions with the biggest companies are incredibly competitive. Then, you should look around for internships that interest you and that could be a springboard for your future career, but you should not think that internships are the only path that you can take to get a great career after university, with there being many other options that could give you the same results and allow you to have the prospects that you need.
Speak to a Careers Counselor
Many people instantly feel lost when they finish university, and if you are worried that you are about to waste years of your life drifting around to find a career that you are passionate about, you should consider seeking out the advice of a careers counselor. A careers advisor can be extremely beneficial to you as they will allow you to speak to someone incredibly knowledgeable about your career dreams and targets, and they will be able to give you practical advice on how you can reach those goals. By speaking to a careers counselor, you will be able to have a better idea of what you want to do with your life and how you will get there, and they will also be able to brighten up your resume and even tell you about available opportunities and work experience, or, at least, where other people in your industry have got their foot in the door. Although there are many private careers counselors around, most universities employ them, and you can usually use this service as a recent alumni.
Spruce Up Your Resume
After a few years spent at university or college, it is unlikely that you will have bothered to look at your resume much unless you had a part-time job while you were there. Then, instead of leaping straight into the job market with an ancient resume at hand that you last updated when you left high school, you must take the time to spruce up your resume and make it look the best that you can. This will then ensure that you can present a great first impression of yourself when you come to apply for jobs and will allow you to attract the attention of possible employers. For instance, when you are planning to spruce up your resume, you should make sure that you put your most recent achievements at the top and that you only state relevant qualifications and experience on this resume. In fact, you might have a slightly different resume and cover letter for each different type of job that you apply for. You should also make sure that your resume is easy to read and that it is no longer than two pages, or else you may find that employers do not bother to read down to the bottom of it. If you are struggling to create the ideal resume, you should consider using a resume template or creation app that can help you to create a resume fit for a professional.
If you do not think that you are ready to enter the world of work completely yet but still want to dip your toe into the water, then volunteering might be the best option for you. Volunteering can help you to get the experience that you need without the commitment of a full-time job and can ensure that you get an insight into the world of work. Although it is often best to volunteer within the industry that you later want to work within, any type of volunteering position can allow you to build up your soft skills and thrive in and understand a working environment after years of being in academia. Then, you should consider looking for volunteering positions online on specialist volunteering websites. In fact, even volunteering at a local social or community group can be advantageous to you, especially if this is in a capacity that might be useful to you in the future. For instance, many community groups look for individuals to help them to market their groups, even though they are not businesses. Then, this can help you to prepare and gain confidence before you work in your field for real and get paid for it.
Check Your Finances
However, you will be unable to take all the steps that you need to if you are not in the appropriate financial situation. Then, unless you had a part-time job while you were at university and have gathered savings through this, one of the first steps that you should take when you are out in the big wide world is to check your finances and ensure that you have enough money to support yourself while you are making your way to the top and the wage that you want. If you do not, you may be able to find grants and other financial aids that can help you while you look for the perfect position, or you may consider getting a part-time job or freelancing in between aiming for the career of your dreams. This will ensure that your finances never let you down and prevent you from getting where you want to go in the end.
* This is a contributed article and this content does not necessarily represent the views of universityherald.com