Out of the frying pan and into the fire… You’ve survived uni, but now you have to survive the real world. This can seem frightening, but by following these simple steps you can find your feet after graduation and make sure your first step is the right one.
Step 1: Take a breather!
Getting a degree is hard and don’t let anyone tell you differently. There are thousands of capable students who don’t make it as far as you have, so pat yourself on the back and don’t feel like you need to jump right back into action following graduation.
The stress induced in final year takes its toll on every graduate, so having a moment to let your head clear is essential. Now that you have finally graduated, there are a multitude of options ahead of you, and you don’t want to jump into the wrong one just because you hadn’t given yourself time to think.
Step 2: Assess your options.
Like most degrees, yours may not have a specific career path in front of it. Instead, think about what skills made you good at your degree, and what skills you acquired while you studied. For example, working long hours and writing thousands of words a day, all to high standards, may have seemed like a last resort at the time. However, many career paths require such flexibility and dedication as part of the skillset.
One questions to ask yourself is about how much time you have. If you’re lucky enough to have some savings and can move in with mum for a couple of months, you can give yourself the time to gain some real perspective – although, don’t waste it!
Think about where you want to be in five, ten and fifteen years, and what you need to do to get there. It’s ok not to have a clear picture, but even if you think about a kind of role you would like to take on, you can start to consider what steps lead there.
For example, if you want to become a manager, you should try to enter a field that is expanding and has a high corporate ceiling. Or, if you’re going to become a specialist in an area, you may have to consider further education, such as an apprenticeship or a postgraduate degree, to build the appropriate skillset.
Step 3: Experience, experience, experience!
The biggest shock you will get is that most the jobs or career paths you want to go into still require a significant amount of work experience. In reality, working is quite different to studying at university. So, getting on that job ladder as soon as you are ready is your most significant next step.
However, some fields will require a particular type of experience, so just jumping into the first company who will take you might not move you forward in your career at all. Even if you cannot apply for your dream job, look at what experience or qualifications it requires. This will allow you to plan out what you need, step by step.
(Optional) Step 4: Take a risk!
Sometimes there is no golden path to success and happiness. For many, the job or option that you want just isn’t out there. Reflect on the experience and skills you have, bearing in mind you have just come out of education, so more likely than not, you are creative and determined.
These assets are essential for what it takes to carve out your own path, such as getting involved in or even creating a start-up. If the business you wish was hiring you isn’t out there, create it. Every year there are hundreds of thousands of people just like you, realising that their wants and needs have changed, so be the person who finds and provides those new needs. If you are young and have no dependents or expenses, now is the time to have confidence in yourself and take a risk. You have nothing to lose and it could change your life, and even the world!