Graduation - what next?

Graduate deciding what to do next

You have a degree! Now that’s something to feel proud of – afterall you have been working towards this moment for years. Together with this accomplishment you now have a change of lifestyle - the late night study, the deadlines and the need to consume knowledge from books and lecturers has come to an abrupt end. This is being replaced with the next era of your life. Many people have feelings of excitement and/or dread as you continue on your career journey. And yet, there are so many possibilities opening up (whether you can see them yet or not), so what are the next steps?

1.    Recharge

Before you jump into anything let’s just consider where you are at right now. Are you feeling energised or flat? Many people need a little time to re-energise after putting everything into their studies. Perhaps having a break, hanging out with your friends, going for walks on the beach, getting back into exercise or catching up on films is exactly what you need before you make some decisions. And in case indulging in relaxation turns into a cunning procrastination strategy which has been endorsed by a career coach it might be a good idea to put a time limit on it!

Before you put your feet up and browse youtube I would encourage you to keep reading this article! 

2.    Capture the best and worst of your uni experience

Whilst you are recharging your batteries think about what aspects of your degree you want to take forward into your next career phase. Ask yourself the following questions to clarify your thinking: 

•    What knowledge from your degree would you love to use in your career?
•    Did any of the relationships with your lecturer/tutors reveal how you would like to interact with future managers/employers?
•    What was it about your favourite assignment/project that you enjoyed?
•    If you had to read another book relating to your degree what would it be?
•    Were there any times at university when you were thoroughly engaged in what you were learning?
•    Think through any times in your degree you felt particularly creative? (maybe you were creative in your problem solving or perhaps you used artistic or language creativity)
•    Can you see how your degree could make a difference? And is this a difference you would like to make?
•    Did you have any responsibilities at university which you enjoyed?
•    What was exciting about your social life?
3.    Think positively about your future

The reality is that you don’t know what your future will hold (and nor do your friends who already have their graduate jobs lined up); your life is a journey that you can guide, but there will be unexpected opportunities along the way.

Many people tell me that they don’t want to be stuck in a job for the rest of their lives. What they are resisting is a feeling of lack of control and tedium. However, you do have control and if you ever feel that your day to day experience isn’t fulfilling it’s time to make a change. Many people reinvent their careers over and over again. Therefore, the question you need to be asking yourself is about the next step not about deciding on a fictional ‘forever job’.

4.    Establish yourself on LinkedIn

Now is the time to connect to your classmates and lecturers on Linkedin. The chances are that you will be working with some of these people in future, either at the same organisations, bumping into them at conferences or working on projects across organisations. In 5 years time your university colleagues will be more difficult to track down and you will have to think harder to remember names and surnames, and afterall they may not recognise/remember you. That makes NOW the ideal time to link. 

The LinkedIn headline you use can be career specific (if you know what you want to do), for example website designer or bookkeeper. However, if you are unsure of your future you can keep your student status just for now; therefore it would be acceptable to write Business student, or IT student, but only while you link to your contacts from your degree. The reasons you will have to change this before you start looking for jobs is because employers won’t take you as seriously if you still have the title ‘student’, it will give the impression that you are not yet ready for the world of work, and you won’t attract potential employers who are searching the website for possible employees.

5.    Generate career ideas

Make a list of careers or tasks in a career (such as training or organising an event) that seem interesting to you. You can use your answers from the list of questions in section 2 above as a starting point. You may also know people who have jobs that intrigue you. Be led by your curiosity about careers.  

If your head is still in a learning space you might wish to use this to generate new career ideas. Make a second list of subjects you would love to learn; this may be in an academic setting, in the workplace, or practical learning. You may find it obviously relates to your career or perhaps it is an unrelated passion. Don't limit yourself to ideas that you consider to be career-specific; here are some examples Thai cooking, language learning, meditation, developing negotiation skills, knitting, website design, leadership skills.   
6.    Create opportunities

Consider ways you can speak to people who work in the areas that are of interest to you. Maybe you want to attend networking events, conferences, travel, or volunteer. By attending some of these events you may meet people who lead you towards your next opportunity.
Creating opportunities can happen even if you decide to do something completely different for a year or two.

And if you are still feeling at a loss make some time to talk to me for a Coaching session.