You’ve graduated! Finally! After 3 years of hard work and hard partying, you’re ready to face the real world.

Some students spend months preparing themselves for post-uni life and know exactly what they’re going to do. Others find themselves back at mum’s the morning after graduation with no plans and a stinking hangover.

For those of you who have no clue, this article will hopefully provide some inspiration. We’ll cover all your options, because a job in the city isn’t the only one!

Let’s get going!

1. Take a gap year

If you haven’t already taken a gap year, now is the best time to do it, before you get on the career ladder and have firm responsibilities.

Taking some time out to travel the world and experience new cultures can do wonders. You’ll come back with a clear head, feeling refreshed and enthused. You might even learn new skills and languages too, which will look fantastic on your CV.

It doesn’t have to be an entire year, of course. Even just spending the summer abroad can be really enlightening.

2. Become an entrepreneur

Does the thought of working for someone else send shivers down your spine? Do you have a burning business idea? Fancy yourself as the next Alan Sugar?

If you answered yes to any of the above, entrepreneurship might be the path for you.

A lot of students baulk at the idea of starting a business right out of uni. After all, you need lots of money and a team of employees to be successful, right?

Wrong! Whatever resources you have, you can start a business. Here are just a few examples:

- Create an app from your bedroom using free software.
- Use your arts and crafts skills to create handmade products and sell them via Etsy.
- Freelance using your talents in web design, writing, photography and so on.

For out more about graduate entrepreneurship on the Student Underground blog.

3. Apply for internships and/or work experience

Many students believe they need to dive straight into a career after uni. But what if you’re not sure that accounting or advertising is really for you?

Internships offer the flexibility of trying out a career before committing.

Lasting anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months, internships can give you a real taste for life in the industry.

Some are unpaid, but you’ll only work two or three days a week so you can take on a part-time job too. However, more and more work experience placements and internships are paid, allowing you to wholeheartedly focus on choosing your path.

4. Continue studying

If you’re not ready to leave the warm embrace of university behind, you can continue your studies with a master’s degree.

If you’re really passionate about a subject or want to specialise in a particular area, a postgraduate course is the way forward.

A master’s will also help your career prospects in the future. As the job market becomes increasingly harder to crack, people of all ages are turning back to study to improve their chances. So, going straight into postgraduate education could help you get ahead of the game.

A majority of UK universities offer both Taught Masters and Research Masters programmes in a wide range of subjects, which means there's plenty to choose from.

Well, there you have it; four alternatives to diving straight into employment. Which one will you choose?

5. Get a graduate job

The majority of graduates look for a job, although this doesn't have to be your first priority (as outlined in the points above). However, if this is where you want to head as soon as you graduate, you should contact your university careers service.

Find out the best vacancy sources are for the type of role you are looking for, as there are thousands of recruitment websites and agencies and some specialise in particular sectors, e.g. Hays for IT, Allen Associates for marketing, CK for science, etc.

Also consider small and medium sized employers (SMEs), as well as well-known graduate recruiters. Being part of a large organisation isn't for everyone and you can still get good training, development and prospects in smaller companies.

If you haven't yet decided on the career you want to pursue, use the internet to explore different job sectors for inspiration. Also, remember that your first job doesn't tie you to a particular career forever, so think about widening your net when it comes to searching for graduate jobs.

Work on building contacts with industry professionals. This can be done through work experience, attending networking events such as careers events and through social media channels. LinkedIn  a recruitment, as well as a networking platform so if you're not on it you could be missing out.

If you're struggling to find a job straight after graduation, spend your time wisely by applying for internships, volunteering, part-time work or even a period of work shadowing.

To find a graduate job you'll need to be pro-active, try different approaches, stay positive, learn from any set-backs and continuously improve your applications until you are offered something.

If you leave university with a 2:2 there are plenty of options open to you. While many large employers insist on a 2:1 from graduates joining their graduate schemes, many organisations now accept 2:2 grades.

Find out more advice about applying for graduate jobs.

Make an effort to improve your CV and target your cover letters so that they show off your qualities and experience. And then, when your applications begin to pay off, ensure that you are prepared for interviews.

Further information

For more tips and advice on what to do after graduation, please see: