Each year we see final year students who are starting to panic as they realise their degree is coming to an end and that they don’t have a post-uni plan. This sense of panic is often compounded by questions from others such as ‘What career are you going into?’ ‘What will you do after uni’. Students feel that they ‘should’ have a career aim in mind and be working towards concrete goals.
With less structured career paths and fewer graduate schemes than in previous generations, it’s no wonder that students are unsure about what their next step might be.
Often, we find that in reality, graduates ‘create their own career’– trying out various jobs and refining plans as they go, rather than staying with one employer for several years and being offered promotions as a way of moving forwards . Even graduate schemes are no longer the secure paths to management and professional careers which they once were. So what can you do if you’re one of those students who is unsure where to start with their career? Here are some suggestions:
1. See if you can identify your core values Understanding what’s really important to you can provide you with a starting point. For example, you may already know that you’d prefer to work in a role where you can ‘make a difference’ or that you thrive on meeting sales targets. One way to start is to think about anything you’d really hate in a job and note it down.
2. Start with ideas about two or three roles or sectors which might interest you Even if you are really unsure about where to start, just choosing a couple of roles or sectors as starting points can help you move forwards – (even if you subsequently decide these areas aren’t for you, you’ll have developed awareness of your preferences and the labour market). For example you might decide to explore work with young people, working in education or roles within finance.
3. Actually ‘try out’ areas of work: ‘Trying out’ different areas of work and working environments can help you explore what does and doesn’t motivate you as well as boosting your CV:
Part-time work: If you’ve already had a part-time job you’ll have gained an understanding of what it’s like to work in a specific environment and sector. You may also have some idea of your strengths and weaknesses when at work and also of what does or doesn’t motivate you in a job – you could use this to help you think about areas to explore further: For example: – You may realise you really enjoy assisting people but not in a retail environment – Perhaps you’d like to work in retail in a graduate scheme/management role – Maybe you like the customer service but don’t enjoy selling products
Other ways to ‘try out’ areas of work: –
Meeting with a Career Consultant might also be a useful starting point to explore ideas and agree further action.