What happens after you graduate?

Graduation. The ceremonious end of an era. It’s the phase you’re told to anticipate after you enrol on to your course. But, once the three-to-four-year bubble is complete, knowing how to navigate post-university life can feel quite daunting. It leaves many graduating students questioning ‘what’s next’? Christina Vassell tries to find some answers.

There you are, degree in hand. It’s OK if you haven’t figured out your niche or found that perfect job. You could find a graduate job or internship, travel or even enrol on to a postgraduate course. These days, there are so many routes you can take that can ease your transition from life as a student into the real world of employment.

Graduate schemes and employment

Most of us with a degree in a particular field or industry sector will seek a graduate job. It’s important to research and plan ahead before you graduate. Many of these graduate jobs begin in September, which means companies advertise before summer, with vacancies filled before graduation in July.

If you haven’t decided on the type of job role or career path you want to take, it’s worth looking at the different prospects afforded to you because of your degree. You should also look at different sectors that are in demand of new talent.

Whether you’re staying local to Derby or returning home from university, you should look beyond the larger corporations and well-known recruiters and agencies. Consider small and medium-sized businesses and employers as well.

For help with job-hunting and the application process, the University’s Careers and Employment Service offers continued support both while you are studying and for three years after you graduate. This can be through mock interview sessions to help you make an impression with employers, career fairs, CV workshops, and personal ‘drop-in’ tutorials with members of the team.

They also advertise graduate jobs, vacancies and other types of employment on their website. Have a look at which job role suits your skillset and interests.

Further study in higher education

Many students consider taking up a masters degree or alternative form of studies at postgraduate level. Postgraduate degrees are useful if you’re considering a career in academia, looking to further study an area of your undergraduate course or to specialise in a strand of research.

With globalisation and the fluidity of career prospects, many students seek to change their career trajectory later on. Some follow a conversion course, as careers such as psychology and law require qualifying degrees at postgraduate level. Others seek to specialise in their undergraduate field of study. What is certain is that postgraduate courses can be rewarding and will benefit most careers.

They are intense, though, and should not be used as a stall for time as they are still quite costly depending on the institution and programme of study. The government recently started offering postgraduate loans of up to £10,000. And, if you choose to stay at Derby, you could be entitled to an alumni discount of up to 25% on tuition fees. Some companies will also sponsor you to take up a masters with the goal of career advancement within their organisation.

Sometimes, gaining relevant work experience before starting a postgraduate degree can give you an advantage getting on to the programme.

Tidal power

Gap year

What are becoming increasingly popular among students are gap years. This typically year-long break before or after studies or work usually sees students backpack, work abroad, take up volunteering or engage in meaningful experiences that can enrich and equip them to go into a professional career.

During this break, you can go anywhere, for any duration of time, focusing on your passions and interests. This could be community development, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures or even learning a new language. Because of this, gap years are now seen as a way to improve your employability prospects if landing a secure job is the end goal.

Taking a year out can be both constructive and productive. You will have time to find clarity on where your professional interests and passions lie in order to make informed decisions about your future career.

Many employers are intrigued by the CVs of those who have taken a gap year to develop a wide range of skills in a particular field, either locally or aboard.

Whichever path you take…

No matter what path you choose to follow after graduation, remember that everyone’s journey is different. There are no right or wrong decisions to what your next steps should be. As long as you put in a good amount of research early on, formulate a short-term plan, and seek advice from friends and family, you will be equipped to navigate the next phase of your life post-university in a positive way.

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