The weeks following your graduation can be difficult as you adjust to life after university. Here are your four options during this tricky but potentially exciting period
Although initially daunting, coming to the end of a three- or four-year course actually opens up a number of different opportunities. You might want to search for a graduate job, study at postgraduate level, or take some time out to go travelling or volunteer.
‘There are many different routes you can take once you graduate, and everyone’s journey will be unique to them,’ says Shauna McCloy, head of employability at Ulster University.
Whichever path you choose, the competitive nature of the jobs market means that it’s important to take full advantage of any free time you have to make your plans and start putting them into action.
This process can be hard work and take time. Try to set a structure to your day to help you stay motivated and focused
How do I get a graduate job?
The majority of new graduates will be looking for a job. Your first port of call should be your university careers service, advises Vinny Potter, careers consultant at St Mary’s University. ‘They can give you concrete help and most will continue to support you after graduation,’ he says. You can also check out the getting a jobsection of the Prospects website for more guidance.
If you haven’t yet decided on the precise career you want to pursue, take a look atwhat can I do with my degree? and job sectors for some ideas. Also, remember that your first job doesn’t tie you to a particular career forever, so don’t be too cautious about widening your search.
‘Network with industry professionals,’ suggests Shauna. ‘Get out there, get involved and make yourself known to prospective employers.’ She also recommends managing your online reputation, as ‘everything you post online is in the public domain’.
Finding a job can take a while. But as Vinny says, you should be careful not to allow a gap to develop on your CV, as potential employers may question it later at interviews. ‘Start doing something active now,’ he suggests. ‘That might include doing a bit of work shadowing, some volunteering, getting a part-time job or something else.’
Equally, he adds, it’s important to leave enough space in your timetable for job hunting. ‘This process can be hard work and take time. Try to set a structure to your day to help you stay motivated and focused.’ The organisational skills you developed during your university course will be useful in managing your various activities – don’t forget your social life too.
As Shauna explains, ‘You may want to consider putting your entrepreneurial skills to the test by starting your own company. Perhaps you have a great business idea or you believe your final-year project has commercial potential.
‘There are many start-up support organisations and government-funded initiatives that can offer practical advice and guidance. Your university’s careers development team will be able to point you in the right direction.’
You can find more advice about applying for jobs on Prospects. Make an effort to improve your CV and cover letters so that they show off your qualities and experience as fully as possible. And then, when your applications begin to pay off, ensure that you are prepared for interviews.
Should I do postgraduate study?
An alternative is to return to university to study at postgraduate level, a route that many in your position have found incredibly rewarding. However, you’ll need to make sure you are doing this for the right reasons.
‘If you are considering postgraduate study, then first stop to think why,’ says Vinny. ‘If it is because you need a specific qualification or extra knowledge before entering the career you want, or if you are passionate about your subject and want to learn more, then great.’
Shauna adds, ‘Embarking on a postgraduate qualification can help develop your specialist, in-depth knowledge of your undergraduate discipline.’ In this case, find out more about postgraduate study and then search for courses.
You may also want to think about studying abroad.
But Vinny warns, ‘If you think that a Masters might generally be good for being employable, or if you want to stay at university for another year because you have no idea what to do with your life, then get some advice.
‘Doing a Masters is expensive and may or may not be helpful. It depends a lot on the sector and the specific course you do, so speak to your careers service.’
Travelling can help to develop your skills in everything from cultural awareness and linguistics to budgeting and negotiation
What other options are there?
During your job search, you can get involved in other activities, such asvolunteering. Or you could take a gap year if you want to see more of the world, learn languages, and meet new people. It will help to make you more employable in the long-run.
‘If you are thinking about taking time out to travel and volunteer, then great,’ says Vinny. ‘This can be a brilliant way to develop skills, have an adventure and make you a more interesting job candidate.’
Shauna says, ‘We live in a global marketplace and travelling can help to develop your skills in everything from cultural awareness and linguistics to budgeting and negotiation.’
However, Vinny urges you to ensure that you have a plan for when you return. In other words, don’t go travelling and expect a job to be waiting for you when you get back. You’ll still need to put the effort into your search for work.
What if I have a job lined up?
If, when you finish your course, you’ve already secured employment – congratulations! You may be wondering how you should fill any time that you have between graduation and the start of your job.
For example, you could research the company you’re going to work for, or further develop your knowledge of the role you’ll be taking on. This will ensure you make a great first impression.
Probably your best option, though, is to celebrate the fantastic position you find yourself in by taking a break after years of hard work at university. As Vinny puts it, ‘Go off and have some fun. Enjoy life and make the most of it.’
The essential guide to your career
Discover how to make yourself more attractive to employers while at university and ease the pressure after graduation with our job hunting advice.
We’ve probably all been to a job interview at some point or another and whether they resulted in the desired outcome or not, I’m sure you’ll agree that a job interview is rarely an experience to be taken lightly and they can bring up a range of emotions, from excitement, to pure fear!
They’re unfortunately an unavoidable part of working life and therefore over the years job interviews have been a common feature of films and TV, ranging from the comical or cringeworthy, to occasionally even inspirational.
I’ve collated a list of some of the best job interview scenes to date, including the downright disastrous and some rather unconvincing success stories. Whether you’re the bumbling idiot, or the smooth talking marvel, I’m sure you can relate to some of these!
1) Step Brothers
We all feel like we could do with a bit of moral support ahead of an interview, but Brennan Huff (Will Ferrel) took this a step too far in Step Brothers, when he took his step brother (John Reily) into the room with him. This isn’t the only thing he got carried away with either. I’d say a tuxedo was probably a tad too formal for the occasion and by no means should you tell your interviewer (who’s name you got wrong several times) to shut up! Explains why they’re both unemployed and living at home at the age of 40 I guess!
What can be learnt?
Remember your interviewers name!
2) The Internship
It’s a miracle that Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) managed to talk their way into an internship at Google. Not only did the two slightly-older-than-average interns struggle to even set up the technology required for their video interview with one of the leading tech companies in the world; but they then went on to provide a jibbering rant in response to an “out-the-box” question about being stuck in a blender.
What can be learnt?
Got a video interview coming up? Make sure you’ve familiarised yourself with the tool before hand!
3) Mrs Doubtfire
Nerves can make us do and say some strange things at times and Daniel Hillard (Robin Willliams) from Mrs Doubtfire knows this too well. When asked if he has any special skills he get slightly off track and goes on to showcase all the different “voices” that he can do and albeit impressive, they were unfortunately entirely irrelevant to the job. Unfortunately his interviewer didn’t see the funny side of it. Not even the hot dog impression!
What can be learnt?
Relate your skills to the particular job you are being interviewed for, even if you so have some pretty spectacular tricks up your sleeve!
4) You, Me & Dupree
Dupree’s (Owen Wilson) a pretty laid back guy and although he’s great fun to be around, he doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to employment. Desperate to cling onto his youth and enjoy life, he wants his job to be on his terms and to take up as little of his time as possible. For this reason, upon attending an interview he immediately launches into a discussion about when he DOESN’T have to work and explains that he works to live and isn’t very task orientated. Yikes!
What can be learnt?
Don’t discuss employee perks and vacation time before you’ve been offered the job!
5) Good Will Hunting
A level of confidence is good when interviewing for a job, however there is a line that be crossed and Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck) in Good Will Hunting certainly does that! Despite being offered the job already, he then goes on to demand cash on the spot as a ‘retainer.’ Some how he manages to completely take charge of the room and walks out with the money he asked for. The panel of interviewers were lost for words!
What can be learnt?
Don’t get ahead of yourself. Making demands before you’ve even started the job could lose you the offer.
How I got my job: Film Producer
Jonny Paterson graduated with a degree in English Literature and History (Joint Honours) in 2010. He recently gave a great interviewto Pam Stucky for Huffington Post about life as a Film Producer and how he got in. The interview is well worth a read if this is something you’re interested in and you can do so here.
In addition to this, we also asked Jonny for his top tips for other students or graduates interested in film production. Here’s what he had to say:
Get an internship
My first two jobs in the entertainment world were internships where I was essentially an assistant to an assistant! Not the most fun job in the world, but undeniably beneficial to me in that they taught me about company politics, expectation levels, how to communicate with industry professionals etc. They were also great networking platforms that led me to meet a lot of people I still talk to and work with today.
Consider post-graduate opportunities
Following my degree at Leeds, I studied a Masters at Carnegie Mellon University, which introduced me to a lot of the technical and formal intricacies associated with the film world. I learned a lot about the economics of the industry and how the various different strands (TV, film, video games, theatre, sport etc) correlate with each other. It is a very insular industry that has it’s own ‘language’ and learning that before immersing yourself in it, could help expedite your career and help you really grasp opportunities from those you are up against. Post-grad opportunities are also a good way to ease you in to the harsh realities of trying to hustle in Hollywood, which I found to be no bad thing.
Network, network, network
The film industry is so much about ‘who you know’ and the only way to know anyone is to get out there and meet them. Being pro-active in sourcing networking opportunities is one of the best uses of your spare time. Preparation for those events is also key; have business cards ready and be able to talk about who you are and what you’d like to do pretty much on command. We call it an elevator pitch in ‘Hollywood’ and it’s essential to start practicing yours as soon as possible.
Remember, we are here to help you whatever your future ambitions – or even if you need help figuring them out.
I think this is one of the questions I am most frequently asked. There’s no straightforward answer but there are some questions you can ask yourself which might help to inform your actions. So what are they?
How many jobs do you want?
This question is not as fatuous as is sounds. If you have one dream job which can be done forone employer then your options are going to be limited. Everyone should try to have a plan B though. It would be good to spend some time researching to see if you can come up with similar options. For example, if you want to join the Civil Service Fast Stream it might look as if you have just the one option. That’s not the case, several Government Departments take direct graduate entry, you might want to apply to those departments too.
How competitive is it to get the job you want?
The number of applications you want to make will be determined, in part, by the level of competition you expect. Some City of London jobs, like consultancy or training contacts in top law firms, will pitch you into intense competition. There may be more than 100 people applying for each vacancy. Just applying for the one job does not look like a great strategy! Paradoxically applying for 50 opportunities might not enhance your prospects of securing the offer.
You’re going to need to balance the desirability of making a number of applications, with the imperative of ensuring that each application you make is as good as it can possibly be. You’ll have to research each individual employer and demonstrate that research in the application. You would also be well advised to get someone with experience of recruitment in the particular area to check that you are, “on the right track”, before you start firing off your applications.
Stop to think how much time you can spare from your academic work to make these applications. Top consultancy firms say that successful candidates often tell them that they measure the time spent on each application in days not hours! You will not be advancing yourself if you get the coveted offer, only to find that when you graduate you miss the 2.1 the offer was conditional upon.
An important consideration is whether there is a way of spreading your applications. If you don’t succeed in gaining an offer for the most competitive jobs, can you can still work in your desired sector area? When you applied to university you probably listed a range of universities on your UCAS form, perhaps from the aspirational to the insurance. Can you adopt that approach with your applications? If you want to be an accountant and aim to work for one of the “Big Four” could you also apply to a smaller practice? You might be able to increase dramatically your chance of training for the career you want.
When are the closing dates for applications for your options?
Thinking this through carefully can help you to minimise the number of applications you need to do, or at least allow you to spread the burden of doing them over a longer period. Check whether your target employers recruit on a rolling basis. (Do they look at and assess each application as soon as they receive it?) You need to apply quickly for any organisations handling their recruitment in this way. An amazing statistic is that when there is a window of time in which applications can be made, 75% of applications will come in during the final 33% of that time. It will be easier to secure your dream job if you get your application in early. (Some graduate schemes for 2016 start are already open so early birds can make a start right now!)
You might want to delay putting in applications for employers not running rolling recruitment cycles. Do some research also into closing dates for different jobs. The “Big 4” accountancy firms all still have advertised vacancies for 2015, (I’ve just checked). If you leave an application very late, you won’t necessarily be able to get a job in your dream location but you might find that there are still some really “tasty” offerings out there.
Does this answer the question?
It proves there isn’t really an answer! Without a doubt one really well researched and put together application is more likely to lead to success than 50 ill-thought through generic efforts. The happy medium is somewhere in the middle. Most people probably aim to put in between five and ten really good applications.
We’re here to help you along the way!