Life after graduation
Graduation can be a scary time and it's hard to know what to do next. How do you adapt to life after a degree?
I'm going to miss university
Emma Place, a Dental Technology student, probably speaks for most students when she says she has mixed feelings about graduating. "It's really sad because obviously you make all your friends but now we're going our separate ways. However, coming to university meant jumping in with two feet, so it's going to have to be like that in the grown-up world."
I've graduated. What next?
You're bound to feel overwhelmed, so begin by thinking about what career would suit you. Focus on the basics: What are you interested in? What are you good at? What do you really not want to do? Your university careers service and Graduate Prospects will provide you with information on specific careers.
Once you have a direction, think about the best route to get there. Should you join a graduate scheme? Work for a small company? Do further study? Start your own business? Finding out how other people started in the industry will help narrow your options.
Where is the best place to look for jobs?
Jan Moore, Employability & Careers Guidance Manager at Manchester Metropolitan University, recommends checking out your university careers service. "It's likely that they will be offering a range of activities, such as recruitment fairs, postgraduate open days, graduate business start-up, internship and work experience programmes, careers planning and applications events."
Graduate careers fairs are an excellent way of meeting lots of employers and scoping out what's on offer; catch up with the latest vacancies at milkround. For informal information about graduate recruiters - including inside info on interview questions - check out WikiJob.
Recruitment agencies, such as Monster, Reed and Graduate Careers Bureau, have specific services for graduates. And don't forget newspapers and trade magazines, which are still popular places to advertise vacancies.
What else can I do to get a job?
Develop contacts. Talk to people in the career you want to work in, whether in person or in online forums. If there's a professional body for your career, contact them and ask where jobs are usually advertised.
Don't assume that you have to wait for a job to be advertised before contacting a company. A speculative application could arrive at just the right time and give you a head start in the recruitment process.
Apply for work experience in the area you want to enter. This will give you a realistic idea of the industry as well as something to shout about on your CV.
Spread your net a little wider and don't dismiss an opportunity because it's not in your home town. "Look at different locations, different organisations, and different opportunities beyond your first choices," says Sonja Stockton, head of recruitment at PricewaterhouseCoopers, "because if you understand your goals, it will all contribute to building a great career."
What about further study?
Postgraduate study can be an attractive option but think carefully about why it appeals. If it's just that you can't bear to leave university or don't know what else to do then it may not be the right choice.
However a postgraduate qualification can make you a more attractive candidate and in some sectors, such as law or teaching, it may even be a prerequisite. Check out your options at Graduate Prospects.
I can't decide what to do. Should I take a gap year?
Gap years can increase your skills and make you stand out with employers, as well as being a lot of fun. But if you're going just because you haven't found a job, you should remember that there will be no guarantee of work when you get home. However, if you do decide to take some time out, the options are endless: you could volunteer, teach English, travel or work abroad.
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