If you’re in your final year of university and wondering what comes next, you’re not alone. Plenty of graduates have no clue about what they will do after university is over, and many opting for career paths that have almost nothing to do with their specific degree.
These days, just having a degree is often prerequisite enough for a promising career across a lot of different disciplines, so you don’t have to get too stressed about whether you’ve chosen the right degree course. Most people are out in search of better opportunities, with the BBC reporting much better earnings for degree graduates. So if you are nearing graduation…congratulations! You’re already on your way.
If you really want to make a decision on your next step after university, however, read through this guide featuring tips and resources to help you answer the big question: what do you do after you graduate?
What do you like?
Start first with a big deep breath. Over the course of your university life, you get the chance to try out a lot of different subjects, and extra activities. Was there something in this time that you particularly enjoyed? Take a piece of paper and start to list out all the things you find genuinely interesting or fun.
What are you good at?
Figuring out what you like is definitely important, but it’s worthwhile considering what you are also capable of doing – what is it that you are actually good at? Do you have a tendency towards numbers over essay writing? Do you have a knack for computers? Chances are, the things you’re good at will overlap somewhat with what you like. It’s not to say that you can’t challenge yourself, but finding the place where your interests and your skills coincide will help decipher a few clear ideas about where to focus your energies next.
Read up on different careers options
There are lots of great resources online, which will detail information about what it’s like to do certain jobs. This includes what skills, experience and conditions you can expect on the job. Investigate the National Careers Service for detailed information about everything from archaeology to zoology.
Try a career quiz
There are plenty of quizzes online that aim to examine your talent and interests and make suggestions. These can take a few forms. One is to take general personality-based quizzes, like the Myers-Briggs based test on Truity or Career Test. This comes up with a long list of information about you as a person based on the MBTI typologies, alongside possible careers that are suitable for that type.
Another option is to take a more specifically careers-based quiz, like the one on Team Technology. This will ask strictly work-based and interests-based questions, in the hope of narrowing down a few fields of interest, according to what you value as well as how you are. This means factoring in things like motivations, salary expectations, etc.
Investigate work experience
The best way you can figure out what you’d like to put your energy into is to try things out. After all, it’s pretty much impossible to know if you will in fact like a particular career path – the way they sound on paper will be very different to the ins and outs of life on the job.
Internwise can be a great starting point, looking for internships and work experience. Other online resources can include Go Think Big and Target Jobs. Don’t forget too that your university likely offers careers fairs and talks from companies looking to recruit. Almost every university also has a careers office, where you can talk one on one or see positions advertised, be it work experience or full time graduate roles.
If you aren’t seeing anything you’d be truly interested in advertised online or at university, it might be worth doing things the old fashioned way. Start researching companies that sound interesting to you. Send them an email and your CV, offering to help out for free. While you should not work for free long term, offering up a week or two of your service in exchange for seeing what life is like on the job can be invaluable. Talk to your lecturers and tutors – after all, they might be able to help point you in the direction of an opportunity you might not know about otherwise!
Consider more study
If you are really stuck but know you love what you study, why not consider continuing on to a further qualification? Student Money Saver has some help with bursaries, which can help you on your way if further study is the best option for you.
For example, if you are a business student, look for the best MBA program that you can find, as achieving an advanced degree is sure to improve your job prospects in the future. Earning this degree develops skills that are applicable in the workforce, helping you to not only become an expert on the subject, but also to improve your real world abilities that can be used in the workplace. Most degree types have advanced or specialty upgrades available, which can not only ease your transition into the workforce, but can also narrow down your potential career possibilities into options that you are truly interested in.
We hope these practical pointers can help ease the stress of making decisions for life after graduation. Read more about other options you might take at the Irish Times. Remember to start thinking soon, be proactive about your investigations, and take things one step at a time. After all, most people in your classes are in the same boat, with no idea what to expect outside the classroom! You’re not alone, so take things calmly. Good luck!