After 16 years straight (at least) of full-time education, many my age are suddenly realising the end actually is nigh. For all that time we’ve always had a goal; the next deadline, the next exam, but now we are free! Its a revelation, so much free time to either waste away or do something productive, either way we have a choice while before now making a choice that wasn’t university related always held that tiny bit of guilt that perhaps that essay is more important than the cheeky cocktail we were holding. But then the kill-joy walks in the room (sorry to all these people) and asks ‘So what’re your plans beyond this week, like your proper future plans?’ And then I’m stumpted. Several thousand pounds on a lovely little bachelor of science degree and actually, I don’t quite know what to DO with it, and that gets me a little edgy!
I have an internship with a local wildlife trust this summer and have sorted a holiday job to work around it, travelling is in the planning but although these things look on my CV, realistically I need at least a MSc to progress into a career in ecology. So I take a year or two out to clear my head and earn some money, apply for an expensive masters degree aged 23, graduate at 24 and find a job. I have lots of friends looking for proper career jobs now, or already have something beautifully well-paid already in the bag so I know at times in the next couple of years I might wonder why I’m wasting time but everyone I have spoken to agrees that travelling is best before the career….and that some time to relax might do some good! But everyone is different, has a different degree and a different dream end point.
So I did a little research into what we really should do after graduating, how to plan, not waste time and make your CV blow all competition out of the water.
What’s the goal?
Most advice calls to always have this in the back of your mind. Knowing exactly what the end goal is will help you dictate how to spend your time, what to spend money on (and therefore how much to save!), which contacts to start accumulating and what to prioritise. Everyone needs to take some time out, and now is a good time to take it.
How to plan your time (and money?) First of all take some time to chill out after the stress of your final year, as much as your restless mind, body or finances will allow. Then sure, go for it! I am a self-confessed lover of the old to-do list. Sad as this is it keeps me busy and organised and gives me time to chill out and have fun, rather than suddenly realising that important thing I just HAD to do, but completely blanked (usually calling my mum…sorry Mum). If you’re not a fan of an old school diary there’s a multitude of calendar and to-do list apps for free on the appstore which can always be with you on your phone for instant access. Here’s a great list from littlewildheart
Going home and visiting family and friends is a great reminder of the real world in the post-exam and dissertation alcohol haze and might help you decide on some plans you might have,
- The core textbooks from your degree – I do love Google but sometimes, when prepping for a test or an interview flicking to an index and having the ‘textbook’ answer (HA get it?..sorry) right there, all highlighted and scribbled on, is a god-send. And reviewing things like that may come in hand if your applying for a job that wants you to work with something specifically from your background. Equally if you are thinking of going into further education at any point down the road keep the lecture and revision notes from the most relevant modules. Personally I’m not at all interested in anything I studied in 1st year but some of my 3rd year ecology might come in handy one day!
- Your best final year essay, marked, graded and approved. Often a dissertation will be a bit daunting to hand in or email along with your CV but a 1500 word essay could make or break getting a job as it provides prof to the employer that you really can write as your degree and CV reports.
- I have found a surprising amount of stuff (crap) can be accumulated throughout uni. Just freshers week produces a drawer full of freebies every single year and then there’s sports stuff, retail therapy goodies, fancy dress, it’s endless! Keep the memories, make a journal or shove it a little box, one day you might want to embarrass your kids with it (or prove you really were stupid and fun once).
How to beat the competition
- Re-vamp that CV
- Volunteer, work in a related job
- Go to conferences for advice and ideas
- Make use of the local/university careers service before you leave
- Travel – you have fun and look like a well-rounded, interesting and savvy human 🙂
- Be confident. Rock up to that interview and believ you are the best person for the job because you probably are.
If all else fails take this fab quiz on Buzzfeed. It told me to join the circus.