Just for the record, I’ve never watched the reality show, ‘I’m a Celebrity…. Get Me Out Of Here!’ in case anyone wondered about my taste in TV programmes. But it did strike me as an appropriate phrase to maybe sum up how many of you may be feeling right now as you approach the end of your university years, but haven’t quite figured out what to do career wise. You may well feel like you are trapped in a jungle – feelings of fear, anxiety and panic with many questions racing in your head.
Am I a failure because I haven’t got a ‘graduate job?’
What can I do with my degree?
Is it too late to find anything?
How can I move forward?
Without sounding patronising, I know exactly how you feel. When I came to the end of my degree 17 years ago, I had no real clue as to where I was heading. But I had an interesting career journey to get to where I am now, which you can read about.
It’s completely understandable to feel lost and confused; after all the world of work is changing so rapidly and there are many options for learning and careers.
So here are 5 tips and advice which I want to share:
- Seek clarity on options – getting professional careers advice and support would be a good starting point. Being able to discuss your ideas, plans and concerns with someone else can help you to focus your thoughts and look at practical solutions. You may want to consider making use of various self – awareness and careers tools to help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, interests, abilities. Perhaps you’re wondering, what do graduates with my degree actually do? There are a number of ways to find out – your Careers Service can give you an insight on destinations of graduates from your course, and there is the national picture in terms of the ‘What Do Graduates Do? 2015 Report. If you use LinkedIn (and I certainly hope you are using professional networking), then the Alumni pages for your university give you the chance to look at what graduates from your course are doing, and where they work in the world. You can even look at profiles to see how people have progressed in their careers.
- Get inspired the WISER way – I came up with a formula, which was my first ever blog post, to help you find your career inspiration through various avenues. WISER stands for Work Experience, Industry Experts, Social Media, Education, Resources. My career inspiration happened at university whilst attending a talk by a guest speaker from the BBC World Service, but it can happen through many and often unexpected means. So keep an open mind, and think outside the box.
- Weigh up pros and cons of postgraduate study – I pursued postgraduate study for various (but not necessarily academic) reasons. Although I got my career inspiration during this time, it’s a route I would say needs careful consideration. It is huge investment in time and money, and being more qualified may not necessarily make you more employable, unless your chosen career path requires it or there is a strong benefit. Definitely do your research and speak to someone about your options. The TARGETPostgrad link provides some useful questions to consider.
- Home and away – making the most of going global – at this stage you may be tempted to leave the UK and venture abroad to see if there are better prospects. Or perhaps you want to spend a short period of time in another country and develop new skills and experiences. Again, it’s very important to do your research, consider finances and other practicalities. You can read my post on 5 Common Questions for Going Global (some of the programmes I mentioned at the time might not be available right now), but there are still plenty of resources to check out. Recently Guardian Careers hosted a live chat on making the most of a gap year, and you can check out the discussion, packed full of some useful advice and tips from various experts.
- No linear path to career success – the final thing I would say is that you may be facing this pressure and expectation to have a well paid ‘graduate job’ secured after university and your entire career path to be planned out following a particular route. There is no such thing as a job for life, and everyone has a different and unique career journey. Some of you may have to go through a period of exploration to discover what you want to do. This is perfectly okay, and certainly what I had to do. The most important thing is to learn from your various experiences and look at the transferable skills you gain along the way. So don’t worry what others think – do what is right for you!