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Do You Know What You're Doing After University?

Careers AdviceGraduate JobsTips and Advice

So, university is coming to an end and has triggered the beginning of an existential crisis. Who am I? What am I supposed to do for the rest of my life? How does one become a “functioning member of society”?

Some of your friends will already have their whole life planned out ahead of them, while others have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen after the next couple of months. I’m here to make it all easier for you, by exploring your options on your behalf. Sit back, relax, and scroll through your potential opportunities after you graduate.

1. Continue your education

There are many ways you can extend the glory days of university, (though they probably won’t include the same level of late nights and clubbing as your undergrad years). If you want to remain part of the student life then you may decide to extend your education even further by taking a Masters or PhD. You could even take a subject conversion course or PGCE to realign your life if you found your course wasn’t really what you want to do with your life. Choosing one of these pathways can open up a whole avenue of opportunities for you in the future, but also mean you’ve got additional years before you can start your career – which would be a good or bad thing depending on the way you look at it. Either way, the end of an undergrad degree does not necessarily mean the end of university.

Man in a library studying with a pile of books

2. Do a Graduate scheme

Of course, I would not be able to write this list without including the wide range of graduate schemes you can get involved in at many huge companies both on a national and international scale. A great environment to receive all the training and support you need, surrounded by peers in the same position as you. It will grant you amazing experience and potential job security for the future. There are grad schemes in almost every industry, and with wide global opportunities, you even have the chance to see more of the world. It’s definitely a great introduction to the world of a full-time job and becoming ‘functioning adult’ in society, and a lot of them have very competitive salaries, so get applying!

3. Travel the world

Yes, the good old gap year! See the world, broaden your horizons, do it now while it’s easier and you have little to no commitments. Before you know it you will be a full-time adult with full-time responsibilities. After university is the perfect time to drop everything and live your life in a backpack. South-East Asia is the most popular destination for graduates and travellers alike, but don’t forget about the paths less trodden, South America and Eastern Europe have gorgeous hidden gems! Travelling can also be very flexible as its all down to you, it is also a great way to experience different cultures and even give you potential ideas for where you want your next step in life to be, whether that’s where you live or what kind of job you would love. A lot of people even work along their travels, in bars and café, so it doesn’t put you too much out of pocket by the time you finish.

Backpacker on a hillside looking out on a view

4. Follow your passion

Whether you’re a painter, seamstress, martial artist or cook, there are endless opportunities now to get your talents seen and out there and start an online business. Make an Instagram or Facebook for your clothes tailoring or for tutoring young karate students. Grab the chance to do something you love, and it could be a great way to make money while figuring out what you’d like to do on a more permanent basis. You never know your business could end up taking off and could be the next business empire!  What’s stopping you?

5. Go zero-waste, plastic-free, plant-based and live in the woods

Hey, don’t judge. The world is getting hotter and perhaps by the time we all graduate there’s no turning back, so does the world really need another investment banker? It’s pretty unfair we’ve been lumped with solving the global climate crisis, so I think you should just sit this one out.

6. Get an Internship

Okay, perhaps the last one was not too practical but internships certainly are. Getting experience in any sector, whether it is well paid or not, can be an extremely useful building block for your CV and beginning to climb the career ladder. A graduate internship will provide you with insightful experience and a look into the world that you may want to be a part of and might just give your CV that edge when it comes to applying for jobs in the future. We all have to start somewhere, and this would be a perfect opportunity to build a good network in the field of your choice. It will also mean that you could have a higher chance of being thought of for positions in the future.

Intern giving a presentation at work

7. Start at the bottom and work your way up

You by no means need to have done a fancy graduate scheme to do well in life. A basic job at any company will give you a certain skill set you can carry with you for the rest of your life. Customer or client-facing roles in areas such as hospitality and retail will give you customer-based skills and incredible patience when dealing with the general public. Any office job at smaller companies will give you great experience of working in a team and will grant you many potential opportunities to climb that career ladder into a position you may never have thought of. You’d be surprised at how many people get a job that is nothing to do with their degree, there is knowledge to gain from everything you do.

There is no real rule book about what you should be doing at the end of your university career. You will find what works for you! Don’t start working yourself up into an existential crises about your life after university, I’m sure you’ll do just great whatever you fall into.

Like this article? Why not read Don’t have a Grad Scheme? Don’t Panic! or How to Stay Positive After Graduation

Maeve is an undergraduate of politics, philosophy and economics at the University of York. Outside of her studies she enjoys drawing, cooking and writing about her travelling. 

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