Congratulations! You’ve finished your exams, handed in all course work and ticked off ‘university’ on your bucket list. But what to do now? Unless you were super organised or lucky enough to have a career in mind, chances are you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of leaving 18 years of education and joining the real world – I know I did! As a recent (ish) graduate, here are my suggestions for making the transition as painless as possible:
- Take the summer off! Let’s face it, you frickin’ deserve it
Why rush to join the real world? If you can, put off job applications for a couple of weeks (months!) and enjoy your final summer of freedom. Cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End, walk the Brecon Beacons or tour the county’s music festivals. Volunteering will provide you with free entry tickets (and often meals and hot showers). Oxfam still has stewarding spaces at a range of festivals for this summer.
- See the world!
Always wanted to do some travelling but never had the time or money? Last year I spent 10 weeks in Burkina Faso, West Africa, on the government funded ICS programme. You fundraise £800 and the Government pays for everything else – flights, vaccinations, visas, accommodation. You even get a very small living allowance for while you’re out there. The programme runs in a number of developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. You live in local communities and work with local young people. Don’t expect to change the world but it is a great opportunity to experience a different culture and way of life and gain some valuable experience.
- Go on a working holiday
Spend a couple of months to a couple of years on a working holiday. Obvious choices include applying for a VISA for Australia, New Zealand or Canada or spending the summer holiday rep-ing in a tourist resort in Europe. But have you thought about au-pairing? Teaching English abroad? Or WOOFing (that’s working on organic farms for those not in the know)? Pay might not be great but you usually get accommodation and food included.
- Get on LinkedIn
If you’ve decided to join the working world as quickly as possible, set yourself up on LinkedIn ASAP. Use it as an online CV, outline all your experience and be clear about what you are looking for – get someone to proof to ensure there are no typos too! Connect with people you know and with recruiters. Having a recruiter or three makes the job hunt SO much easier. Always try to meet them for a coffee first so you get to know each other and you can clearly explain what you want and why. Be sceptical of those who are happy to set you up with a client without really talking first, they’re just hitting targets and probably don’t have your best interests at heart.
- Don’t be shy!
I got my first job through emailing a contact my dad had made at an event and asking for work experience, they replied inviting me to a job interview! If you know what you want to do don’t be afraid to approach companies directly, they will probably be impressed with your proactivity and can only say no! If you’re not competing against other applicants it makes getting the job a whole lot easier. Also get yourself to industry events and talks – uni reunions, guest lectures etc. are great for this. Get chatting to people, collect business cards and don’t be afraid to say you’re on the job hunt, you never know where this could take you!