As a recent graduate, the stress of choosing a degree that will invariably dictate the direction of your career at the tender age of 17 is something I’m all too familiar with. We’re working for longer, walking into an astronomical amount of university debt, and fighting for our lives to secure graduate schemes. What a time to be alive, eh?
Making decisions for the sake of your career has never been more important. But, are these really decisions that you can make at such a young age? I would tend to disagree. Statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that a third of 2015’s graduates took up jobs as cleaners, office juniors, and road sweepers six months after leaving university. I spent many months working for my family business, and selling carpets had certainly never been a part of my master plan. A part of me cannot help but feel that this third of graduates, like me, had a mini epiphany and realised they weren’t studying the right subject or had no idea of what action to take after they graduated.
Whilst trying to decide what I was going to do with my English degree, I began to panic…was I really destined to be Miss Gee the English teacher? No. I wanted to work in marketing, but had very little idea of how to get there. I graduated in 2015 with a degree that I wouldn’t change for the world, and even though my degree didn’t go hand in hand with what I now wanted to do, I certainly wasn’t going to let my choices as a 16/17 year old restrain me in my 20’s.
So, after some time spent travelling, and many months of changing my job hunting tactics, the stars aligned and I became a part of The Wonderland (yay!). Now I have found myself in this position, I see it as my obligation to reassure and advise any graduates of how to deal with a pre or post degree crisis.
- Stay optimistic – When your fellow graduates are walking into their seemingly ‘dream job’ try not to get despondent; A global study released in 2014 showed that 1 in 4 graduates leave their first job within 12 months of employment.
- Apply anyway – If you already know the company you want to work for but they aren’t recruiting, contact them anyway. They may be able to keep your CV on file or even offer you some work experience. All you have to lose is the length of an email or telephone conversation.
- Get a part time job – It’s tempting to assume that your first graduate job is right around the corner, but the likelihood for a lot of graduates is quite the opposite. Don’t put your life on pause, and don’t be bitter if you’re a biochemistry graduate working in a chip shop – a job is a job!
- Do some voluntary work – Look for an internship or start volunteering in a field you’ve always been interested in. Gaining additional experience, boosting your skillset, and building up your list of connections for the future is priceless.
- Do some charity work – Job searching can at times be an incredibly repressive and miserable process. Giving back to the community through charity work is one of the best ways to stay positive, keeping both mind and body occupied. Not only that – but it will look great on a CV.
- Remember that experience counts – If you feel as though a job is out of reach simply because of your degree, think again, some employers will value your experience over your qualifications.
- Consider all of your degree – Stop concentrating on what your degree didn’t offer you, and start thinking about what it did. For example, did your degree give you the ability to communicate effectively on and off paper? Do you now have excellent research skills and an ability to work independently under stressful circumstances? All these skills can be applicable to just about any industry you’re hoping to work in.
- Travel – If you’re lucky enough to consider this option, travelling is a great opportunity to take some time away from the big world of work and challenge yourself in new ways. Having some time away may also give you a different perspective on your career path.
- Go back to university (I’m not joking) – More often than not your university will have offered some form of career guidance. Don’t assume that because you have graduated you aren’t still able to contact them for support and guidance.
- Network! – In the age of LinkedIn, connecting with people in a professional manner is easier than ever. Find inspiration and research how others have climbed the work ladder. Some might even be able to offer you some connections and leads to new opportunities.
It’s a hard life being a graduate in limbo, but don’t let the limbo get the better of you. If you work hard enough you will end up at the place you want to be! So keep busy, be kind to your parents, and stay wonderful.
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