I am certain that a lot of graduates will agree with me when I say that the final year of your degree is full of blood sweat and tears (metaphorically speaking that is). It is the year that you pull your socks up, knuckle down and really give it your all so that when June comes around and you put on your graduation gown you are filled with pride. But, as if final years didn’t have enough to stress about with their degree, there is a certain ominous 7 word sentence which plagues the mind of a lot of students. That is…
What am I going to do next?
*Runs away quickly*
Fear not final years, these 7 words don’t have to fill you with fear and stress. There are tons of things you can be doing to address this question early on in the year so that when June comes around you have some positive thought-out options, rather than a dark abyss of uncertainty.
The first thing to note is that just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s unlikely that you will wake up one day with your career path planned out. If you don’t know what you want to do then it’s a good idea to take some steps early on which may lead you in the right direction.
- Instead of focussing on the things that you don’t know, try writing a list of things that you like and dislike. It might be as simple as ‘I like engaging with people’, ‘I don’t like working in a lab’, ‘I like the Friday feeling’. Narrowing down your tastes can drastically help your job search. If you like the idea of the Friday feeling then perhaps a 9-5 job may suit you more than one where you will have to work weekends.
- Another good move is to start reflecting on yourself and thinking about what skills you have. If you are not an international student this may seems a bit weird to you as it goes against all British customs to actually praise yourself about an attribute you have (?!). But starting to think about yourself in a positive way can help you work out what sort of sectors may suit you and where your talents may be able to flourish. If self-reflection seems too alien to you then ask your family and friends as they may be able to give you an insight into what you’re good at (a far more British way of dealing with it).
- Network, network, network. Whenever you’re faced with an opportunity to talk to a professional then go for it. You never know, if you decide in April that banking is the career for you, you’ll be grateful that you charmed Jane from Barclays at the Big Careers Fair back in October. Speaking to people is absolutely the best way to find out information about a specific sector and may even lead you onto some work experience if you’re lucky.
Alternatively, if you don’t like the idea of reflecting on yourself quite yet why not try doing a bit of volunteering or getting a part time job? Exposing yourself to new environments may be just the push you need to help you explore different paths for the future. Remember though that you will have a lot of work on at uni, so don’t burn yourself out by working part time too much!
You see, there really is no need to tremble at the knees when your relatives bombard you with questions about the future during your trip home for Christmas. The world really is your oyster, so get cracking on breaking open the shell and getting on track to finding an absolute pearl of a job.
By Cecily Rooney