You’ve finally got here:  You’ve no more lectures to attend, your dissertation has been handed in, and you might have moved back home…. but what now?

You’ve probably made general plans for your future career after uni, and kind of know where your going, but life has changed and it probably feels a bit strange, after all, for the last three or four years you’ve had the structure of classes, semesters and all the other things you’ve come to find part of your life at university.

It’s super important to start making some plans for your life after university, as it’s really easy to get stuck into a rut, and after all, the only person to set goals for your life now is you….

Firstly, it’s important to try to set some firm plans on what you are going to do in the medium to long term – so this means either getting a job, becoming self-employed, travelling or taking further study. Which route you take will depend a lot on what you want to do for a career, your degree classification and your general thoughts on where you want to go in life. 

Getting a job will help you start earning as soon as possible (and you’ll also be paying back your student loan and overdraft quicker too, saving on interest!), and will add extra time on your CV in terms of work experience. Some careers, including those which require employees to be highly qualified (think law, medicine etc…) or highly competitive (such as media, scientific research…), having postgraduate study will be a huge positive, however for many careers, your undergraduate degree will be enough, and getting a foot on the career ladder early will only be a benefit. It’s also worth considering graduate schemes as a way of getting a foot in the door of specialist industries.

Getting your first job post-university can be tough, and you may well find you need to make quite a few applications but don’t lose heart. Some great ways to help you maximise your chances of getting the job you want include:

  • Making your CV the best it can be
  • Getting experience through an internship can help
  • Building your professional social media through sites such as LinkedIn
  • Thinking creatively about where you apply for jobs (applying to both National Head Offices, as well as local/regional offices for example.)
  • Networking

Another alternative is becoming self-employed and working for yourself. This option isn’t for everyone, and you’ll probably find you won’t earn massive amounts to start with, however it can you’ll be your own boss, it can give you great flexibility in how you run your life, and if successful, can be potentially more financially rewarding in the long term than being an employee. There’s lots of advice out there on entrepreneurship, and it’s important to be aware of legal responsibilities and business challenges before you set out.

If you are not entirely sure of what you want for your future, a period of travelling can be great for giving you some time to reflect. Whilst for some people, travelling may mean literally travelling, you can also take time to work part time whilst you travel to keep your bank balance funds healthy. This experience is also useful for adding to your CV! 

Lastly, you might want to consider further postgraduate study. As mentioned previously, some careers may need further study as part of job requirements, however this doesn’t have to be the only reason to take postgraduate qualifications. Whatever reason you may decide to take a master’s degree or PhD, its essential to make sure that it will be value for money and genuinely useful to your career. 

As a final thought on life after university, whatever you choose to do, you may find the transition from university into the big wide world a bit unsettling and disconcerting – in fact, it’s not unknown for some people to develop depression as a result – so it’s important to make sure that you look after yourself health wise, and realise that with more than 50 years’ worth of work ahead of you, you can change your mind or take a different route to that you might have previously decided on!