With the New Year comes the realisation, for many of us, that our days here at the University of Manchester are numbered. As a final year student, starting the final semester, many questions are beginning to arise regarding my post-university plans, from friends and family and also from myself.
Am I going to take on a masters, if so how do I afford it? And what in? Have I applied to any graduate schemes? What industry do I want to get in to? Do I want to work in Manchester or London or somewhere else completely? All these questions were easier to brush off last year but with semester 1 exams now fully completed, marking the end of the first chapter and the next and final one here already, it is suddenly a lot harder than before. I know I am not alone in this so this is a letter of support to everyone who needs it.
Perhaps I am just foolishly optimistic but I believe everything will fall in place post-uni. As of now I’ve only applied to 2 grad schemes and not much else. A lot of schemes aren’t for me, they’re not offered in what I want to do or companies I want to do them in. This is my first big point: Know what suits you and do that.
Ignore what everyone else is doing. Graduate schemes are ‘hot right now’ and everyone is rushing to apply to every one in sight, however it’s important to remember that these may not be right for everyone. This is the same for Master’s. Different things are suited to different people’s career goals and also the attributes they value in an organisation, so do not measure yourself against them. I’ve decided not to panic at the fact I don’t have 12 interviews lined up. Whilst the job security sounds great, to me it’s important that this is in a company and role that I actually want to get up in the morning and go to.
Following on from this is the idea of not rushing into anything. From attending many of the meet the professional’s sessions (held by the careers service), one piece of advice I’ve heard repeated is ‘enjoy the summer’ or at least some time off. Many people feel as though the second you graduate you should be in a job, otherwise, you have somehow failed some unknown life test. Do not feel pressured into jumping straight from graduation to full time work, if that doesn’t suit you.
Finishing university marks a huge milestone, the end of our time in education – a structure we’ve known for most of our lives. It’s okay to rest for a second. My plan is to enjoy these next few months, without this feeling of impending doom, and achieve the best grades I can. Worrying about graduating is only going to take away from the many experiences left to have as a student .
I have begun to look into job vacancy sites, for creative careers (such as Creative Access) that I will look into once I do graduate. Noticing when they advertise jobs, roles that spark my interest and what these roles require from their ideal candidates. This has allowed me to figure out when jobs are likely to come around, when I should refer back to these sites and more importantly begin to acquire the relevant knowledge and experience.
Forging a career path is an exercise in exploration, as is everything. These post grad years are great to experiment and try new things, what you do now you may end up doing the opposite in 5 years, so don’t feel as though your next decision is final, it’s not.
All in all, what I want to say is don’t worry. It is not the end of the world, it’s the opposite. So many opportunities will open up to us as we graduate. Do what is right for you, if you find the perfect grad scheme – apply! If you want to volunteer abroad for 3 months – do it! Whatever you do, try not to compare to anyone else and their journey.