What Should You Do When You Finish University?

What Should You Do When You Finish University?

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You have your degree, you have your professional qualification, and you are ready to start your career.  So, what now? Knowing what to do after university seems easy: live your life.  However, what if the answer to the question is to continue learning.  Then, the question becomes how you can live your life and make sure that you stay up to date with the latest thinking in your area.  One answer could be home learning courses, keeping you as sharp as all the newbies in this arena.  What else can you do when you finish university?

Seek a graduate job

The first option is straightforward.  Get a job.  You likely have much debt to pay off, and you are going to have to get started with this process at some point.

Hopefully, sometime while you were completing your graduate qualifications, you sought work experience or volunteer work.  This will make you an exciting candidate, someone who stands out in a competitive field.

You will also have worked hard to create a full and intriguing CV.  Again, have a CV full of your education does not speak of a rounded personality who can bring something extra to the task.  Look to your hobbies and interests and how these can be developed into something that communicates your values.  Alternatively, you can fill your CV with qualifications in varied areas that show an understanding of the holistic skills you need for your profession.

Become self-employed

A riskier option would be to build your own business or to work freelance.  As a new graduate, you will have little presence in your chosen market, no matter how talented you are.  Therefore, you need to quell your ego a little and show your preparedness to work from the bottom up.  Your business will grow with your reputation, but first, you need a reputation.  Take on projects for little money but instead for a glowing online testimonial.  This review is going to be more valuable to you in the future than a few pence in the money box right now.

It may be that you need to take a job while you are building your business.  This could be an administration job or a job through an agency. The point of this job would be to fund your living expenses while you build the foundation of your business.

Take a gap year

You have worked hard to get where you are now.  Therefore, taking a break and seeking some experience of the world is a fair decision.  If you have been intelligent enough to save your cash or you know someone who will be your beneficiary, then a year to travel might be just the thing.  Go find yourself before you set your shoulder to the grind of your career.

Your gap year may not be about travel.  It might be a year where you consider trying out a business, or trying out becoming a parent, or trying out living simply with little stress.

The only advice that is worth giving about a gap year is to have a plan.  Twelve months seems a long time but can soon disappear, and you have merely frittered away a year of your life.  This becomes a year that is going to look troubling on your CV to future employers.

Take another post-graduate course at university

You may have more serious learning you wish to do.  A masters degree or a doctorate are worthy aspirations, especially if you want to go into academia.  If you feel you have the talent and the funding for this continued study, then this could be the perfect option.  Once you are a doctor of your area, you could then pursue becoming a published writer in your field and a known expert who can be called upon in times of need or innovation.

This sounds like an exciting option.  The outcome makes it seem appealing, but the work involved in gaining postgraduate qualifications is a whole load more intensive than your graduate degree.  It is a good idea to seek advice before progressing on with this course.

In short

There is no rush to speed into your career.  You can get started as soon as you graduate, this is fine.  However, you are going to be working for a long time.  It may be an excellent time to seek some alternative experience before using your degree.  The good news is that the choice is yours.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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