For those of us in our final year of undergraduate studies nearing the end of our university degree, the dreaded question, ‘What are you going to do once you graduate?’ or ‘Now what?’ from friends and family can cause a lot of anxiety and it can feel disheartening, if you don’t have a specific plan in mind. If your answers to these questions are ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I have no idea’, it is important to remember that it’s not the end of the world, so here are some tips and advice for those who don’t have everything figured out:
- Take time to pause.
Many of you who will be graduating from university will be around 21-23 years old – you’re still young and you have the rest of your life to work. During university, juggling academic work, part-time jobs and a social life is challenging so it is perfectly fine to take some time off and let things evolve naturally rather than worrying about not following through with a fixed plan. Rather than rushing into a postgrad or a job, allowing yourself to relax and recharge your batteries may be just what you need to equip you with a fresh mind-set and new ideas.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
We all know of people or have friends who have a 5 year plan with certain goals and targets that they want to achieve. Comparing yourself with them can be intimidating and make you feel like you aren’t ambitious or motivated; it can even pressurise you into applying for jobs or postgraduate programmes for the wrong reasons. Just because you are unsure of a career path now doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful or happy in the future. Speed does not necessarily equate to success.
- Talk to others.
Having a conversation with your friends about plans for the future will often make you realise that feelings of uncertainty, confusion and self-doubt aren’t all that uncommon. It can also be useful to visit the Careers centre at your university and ask for advice – speaking to a career professional can help you become aware of the possibilities that are open to you.
- Do something you’ve always wanted to do.
Have you wanted to learn a new language, a new skill or even volunteer but didn’t have the time or energy to commit yourself to something during your degree? Use this time to fulfil any personal goals that you may have and to keep learning – after all, once you do get a job, the responsibilities of the ‘real world’ can be very demanding and may leave little room for you to pursue a wide variety of interests.
- Research potential internship opportunities.
Even if you aren’t 100% sure about a career path, it can be extremely beneficial to secure internships and remain open to any prospects or opportunities that are of interest to you. Internships will enable you to find out where your strengths lie and what kind of work you enjoy – it’s okay if they don’t automatically lead you to a job but the experience you will gain is often invaluable and it will provide you with increased knowledge of the working world.
- Lastly, enjoy your last few months at university!
If you are in your final year or semester, it can be so easy to become consumed with future plans or spiral into panic mode that you forget to focus on your current experience at university.
University, and in particular being a student, is a unique time in your life so make sure you make the most of it and have fun.
- Sonam Nundoochan