Ask the intern: What should I do after graduation?
Hi Sugar, I am a Psychology student at the University of Liverpool in the UK. I have just handed in my dissertation and I’m hard at work studying for my last few exams. The past three years at university have flown by and graduation is drawing nearer and nearer. While I’m excited to enter the working world, it has started to dawn on me that I have absolutely no idea what I want to do. I picked Psychology as I find it so interesting and, as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career, I thought it best to keep my options open. However, now that I’m faced with the decision I’m wishing I’d picked something more vocational. I could go traveling, apply for graduate level jobs or volunteer until I have a clearer idea of what I want to do. I really would like to decide on a path and begin to work towards career goals, but I have no idea how. Could you please give me some advice on what to do after graduation?
Hi Rebecca! Thanks for getting in touch with such a great question. Picking a career or a plan for post-graduation can be such a hard task! There are so many options and also so many things to take into account, it can feel really daunting. I think it often feels as if everyone else has a great life plan with an abundance of work experience, extracurriculars and fantastic travel experiences. Meanwhile, you feel like you’re floundering in a sea of graduate possibilities and procrastination. This isn’t the case, I can assure you. Everyone has concerns about what their life will be like after university finishes and, while it’s reassuring to have a plan, you never really know what’s in store. Below I have set up a plan for those who don’t know what to do after graduation.
1. Think about what you would value in a career
When considering career paths, it is vital to think about what is important for you in a job. While some things are common across jobs in all sectors, there are some aspects which really vary between careers. Are you excited by the idea of traveling for your job? Or are you more motivated by a big paycheck? Do you value routine or do you need variety to keep you on your toes? Do you see yourself working in an office or remotely? These are all important questions you need to ask yourself. Afterwards, you will have ruled out certain paths and be closer to knowing what you want to do.
2. Find out what you like (and what you don’t)
It may feel odd to search for work experience or job opportunities that you’re not completely sure you want a long-term career in, but it can be really helpful. Hands-on experience is the best way to get a feel for an industry and job role. Even if, over the course of the internship or experience, you decide it’s definitely not for you, you’re closer to finding what you’re truly passionate about. Also, no work experience is a waste of time and will still be a valuable asset to your resume. All professional experience provides you with an invaluable set of soft skills, such as time management, organization and workplace etiquette. An international internship is a great way to test the waters.
3. Think about what you’re good at
You have cultivated a unique set of academic, professional and personal skills throughout your life. By taking stock of these, you can evaluate different career options that will put your strengths to good use. This will allow you to pick a career where you can really excel and progress at a healthy speed. You will also feel a lot of job satisfaction knowing that you’re capable in your role.
4. Consider further study
Although at the minute the stress of exams will no doubt be making you glad to see the back of education, further study could open doors to new career paths. As you said yourself, your degree allowed you to keep your options open. It can provide the foundations for training in a completely new field such as law, teaching or economics. The world is your oyster! You could also continue studying the subject you love to postgraduate level, allowing you to specialize and enter the sphere of practicing psychology.
5. Don’t rule anything out
It may sound a bit corny, but there are surprises around every corner and sometimes the career we end up in is nothing like the one we pictured ourselves doing. When looking for jobs, it is always best to have an open mind and keep your search as wide as possible. You never know what career fields may pique your interests or what country could hold wonderful opportunities for you.
Now you know what to do after graduation, apply today to test drive your career with an international internship.