We all know that feeling or are going to experience that moment of impending freedom — when you are about to hand in that final assignment, complete the last essay, and write the final paper.
It feels great to be graduating from university, but there is also the conflicting emotion of what life would feel like once you graduate.
Getting your degree is a big finish to those years of studying hard. Once you’ve completed all the fun things on your bucket list, it is time to head into the real world, find that perfect job, and make your mark.
Sadly, many people don’t get that great job, salary, or the perfect bump you need to start a good life immediately after graduating. You might wonder if getting a degree is worth it.
It is not always as glorious as portrayed in the media, and no matter how excited you may feel, it can be daunting and overwhelming trying to figure everything out.
Your feelings are normal and valid, but you do not need to also look at life after university with impending doom.
The best way to fight those feelings is to get a realistic view of life after university. This article contains a few ideas you can explore and tips to help you adjust to the real world outside the confines of your university.
So, let’s get right to it, shall we?
A gap year is an excellent idea after university. It allows you the opportunity to travel and experience different societies, cultures, people, and their way of thinking.
It is an experience that explorers value because it shows your experience in diversity, which brings about a different way of thinking in the workplace. It demonstrates your planning skills and, more importantly, self-sufficiency.
You can also gather experience while travelling to make some cash, boost your CV, and develop essential career skills. Rather than plunging yourself into the harsh reality of the labour market, a great way to start after university is to take time out to weigh your options and decide where your interests lie to begin building on them professionally.
You must plan your gap year properly to make the most of it and not be idle for that period. You can schedule trips, work, volunteer, and other fun and productive activities. Keep a detailed journal of your year because it will help you reflect later.
Lastly, don’t expect the world to stop while you are backpacking across Europe. Your dream job will not be waiting for you; you simply begin where you left off.
During graduation season, there is an influx of graduates looking for the same opportunities as you. Your first point of call should be your school’s career service.
Usually, universities start career fairs even before graduation to show students the opportunities that await but will also support you after you graduate.
Even though the pandemic has altered the face of the labour market, you can still explore many opportunities in different fields. Your job here is to review the sectors you are interested in; the entry opportunities, salary level, growth curve, etc.
Although most graduates have their eyes set on the company pillars in each industry, not everyone will get the opportunity. You can explore options like small and medium-sized businesses, start-ups, and maybe even a career switch into sales, marketing, or tech.
More than a handful of us graduated without fully understanding our paths, the role we want to play, or figuring out what exactly we want to do. You don’t have to have it all figured out. For inspiration, start by checking the careers you can explore with your degree and measure them against your skills and interests.
Note that your first job gives you a feel of the corporate world and job market; it doesn’t automatically pin you to a particular career.
Take the time you have to work on building meaningful relationships with professionals and other young graduates like yourself.
A job is the easiest way to do this, but you can also explore networking events like career fairs and social media. If getting a graduate job is proving difficult, try internships, volunteering, work shadowing, and part-time work.
Regardless of your grade, there is a world of opportunity to explore, so don’t be discouraged by a low grade, and neither should you feel overly confident because of a high grade. Instead, work to improve soft skills like communication and other things you don’t learn in the classroom.
You can take online courses and rewrite your CV and cover letter to reflect the skills and qualities that employers want to see.
Over the years in school, you must have gathered some soft skills like communication, planning, time management, and even other technical skills like business planning. You can use your accumulated skills and turn them into a business idea. You can also turn your passion into a business if you have other hobbies like fitness, cooking, pastry making, etc.
Although it won’t be easy, you can become your boss with a well-executed business plan. You can explore a whole library of resources, online and offline, and set up a small business. You can start with a detailed website and earn a few necessary certificates.
Some careers like law, architecture, and medicine require you to study at the postgraduate level before being qualified for practice. For graduates in these fields, it is usually a very straightforward path after graduation.
Graduates with other degrees, like business degrees, may not have it as defined. So an alternative to exploring after getting your degree is to get a postgraduate degree. You can study in the same line as your Bachelor’s degree, but you can also consider a different field for which you’re also qualified.
People choose to return for a postgraduate degree for various reasons, so you must understand why you are doing it. It can boost your career opportunities and bolster your employability prospects, promotions, and salary.
In any case, ensure you are there for the right reasons. A postgraduate degree takes time and financial commitment, and if you are not aware of these, you may get discouraged before it is over.
Even after graduation, your university still looks out for you and keeps many opportunities open for recent graduates. You can get employed at your university as a research assistant, and your key role will be to collect, analyse and interpret data for a research fellow or research team.
Usually, you can only become a research assistant in the field of study where you gained an undergraduate degree.
As a research assistant, you build on your theoretical knowledge, which helps you to gain hands-on experience in your field. It also prepares you for an academic career and applied research. You can connect to your professors to express your interest in helping them build on their ongoing research.
You can also get hired in your university as an administrative staff in departments like admissions, academic advising, and development. If you have a passion for higher education, you can contact the administrative department while you are a student to check for any open graduate positions.
Too many young graduates are too busy looking for graduate jobs and easily forget how effective an internship can be in breaking into an industry or a company. Securing an internship after graduation is a great way to check if you will truly enjoy the career that you are considering. It is a great way to gain experience in any field.
Even though internships often pay less than full-time graduate jobs, it is a solid CV booster. You can also build your network with professionals in your field and get access to quality recommendations in the future.
There is also a possibility of full-time employment after your internship, and you can potentially increase your earning power.
Internship positions are very competitive so if you plan to do a good internship, consider starting your search ad application before graduation.
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and skills and enhance your CV. It sets you apart from other graduates and increases your employability potential.
Volunteering can provide hands-on experience in a particular field, allowing you to gain skills and knowledge that can be applied to future job opportunities. It also allows you to meet and work with professionals.
This valuable period enables you to build a useful and professional network. You can learn skills personal and professional skills for growth.
You develop skills like leadership, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving when volunteering. The icing on the cake is giving back to your society and community and helping individuals.
Seasonal activities such as sailing, farming, and even modelling are very interesting activities that many people engage in while in university. If you have grown passionate about such activities, you can consider engaging in jobs of this nature. They are usually scheduled and allow you to participate in other jobs or hobbies.
Seasonal jobs you are passionate about will give you some fulfilment, and it won’t feel like a job. For example, if you enjoy skating, you can consider working at a skating rink during winter when there is high demand for skating.
Although people tend to associate apprenticeships with vocational jobs, many industries employ apprentices. Unlike an internship, an apprenticeship programme may entail greater responsibilities and real-world problems.
Apprentices work under the direction of a senior colleague who helps guide them to gain the necessary skills to master the job.
Moving to a new place after graduation will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. It gives the perfect conditions for self-discovery and establishing your independence as an adult. If you are interested in travel and tourism, it is a great foundation to experience new cultures and opens opportunities for exploring other parts of the world.
When you move to a new place, you can explore a broader range of job opportunities and build your professional network with diverse individuals.
Some hacks can allow you to keep using student discounts. Deals from some shopping sites and stores still give you discounts even after graduation.
You can also save a lot on transport by using the young-person discounts. For example, the age 16-25 railcard is significantly cheaper than the regular adults’ railcard. This helps you save a lot if you commute to town by train.
Suppose you were operating on a student account while in university you will need to either upgrade your account or open an entirely new bank account after you graduate.
This is important to avoid unnecessary bank charges and also to be able to access larger sums of money.
Some student bank accounts are automatically upgraded to regular ones after three or four years, but you need to check and confirm that your account has been upgraded. Using an app-based bank gives you more control over your account and reduces the hassle of visiting a banking hall.
To start saving cash when you have thousands of pounds to pay in student loan repayment seems unrealistic, but you must take the chance regardless.
Just a few pounds from each paycheck will eventually add up to something. You can make it easier by looking at financial apps that offer automated monthly savings.
No one like the feeling of being in debt, but there’s no need to see that as a crippling effect at the start of your life after university. You can see it as an investment in your future, so don’t let it worry you too much. In any case, you are only required to start paying your student loan when you earn above a certain amount.
Even at that, the monthly sum is very meagre, and you can easily manage with good monthly pay.
Life after university in the UK can be challenging but exciting for graduates as they transition from student life to the workforce. Your post-university experience will vary depending on your specific circumstances and skills.
Graduates have various career options available, including traditional industries such as law or accounting and more innovative or emerging fields such as renewable energy or biotech. Many graduates also choose to start their businesses or pursue postgraduate studies.
However, transitioning from university can be tricky. You may face challenges such as finding a job and managing student loan repayments, but many opportunities and support are available to help you succeed.
Though challenging, if you can carefully consider your options and draw out a plan to achieve your goals and aspirations, it will get much better and easier to adjust to the real world after university.