You’ve Graduated! Now What?! – Part 1

Graduated Now WhatThe time has come. That moment that you have spent that past 3 or 4 years dedicated to achieve. Graduation. The time has probably crept up on you and now you’re faced with the decision ‘now what?’ Well, fear not, we have lots of options and advice to get you started on your life journey. We spoke to graduates who have been in the same position a few years ago and found out what they got up to when the time came for them.

The prospect of growing up and leaving student life behind to go out in the big bad world on your own can be a scary thought. There come lots of worries and a responsibility that you may feel uncertain of facing but the plus side is that you have a whole new world waiting for you and can literally do anything you wish. The first 5 years after university are the times you have to find who and where you want to be. You can make mistakes and learn from them.

You have many routes you can choose from; you can take some time out to find yourself and go travelling. You may go job hunting or if you’re lucky you may already have a job waiting for you. Whichever you path you decide on, you need to go out there and walk it confidently. We spoke to some recent graduates who have been out of university for about 5 years to see what experiences they have had after student life.
Let’s say you want to take the career path, where do you start? Have you got a portfolio of work and an appealing CV? If not then this is your starting place, you need to make sure it is up-to-date and that it sells you as a person and employee. Depending on what industry you are going into, you need to be prepared and know what is expected of you. For the creative industries it is a good idea to have an imaginative approach that is creative and shows off your skills. For the technology industries you need a similar CV but concentrate on the design aspect showing you can use certain technology and so on.

A good example of a well-thought CV, a man got an interview at Google and so he designed his like a search page of Google. This is exactly the kind of thing you want to aim for, get creative and make your CV stand out and be memorable. Prepare a good cover letter to send along side it, you don’t want to make a general one that you send to multiple companies. It has to be adjusted to fit with the job and company you are applying to. Mentioned before was a portfolio of work, this is appropriate when applying to more creative industries or any industry that requires it. For instance if you are applying for a job at a magazine it would be good to have a portfolio of written and art work that can show your skills for the job.

Searching and applying for the job takes hard work and dedication. You need to be prepared to spend some of your days trolling the internet for job vacancies. A good idea is to make a wish list of companies you would like a job within then find out everything you need to know about the company, do your research and be prepared. Often large organisations take applications months in advance especially for work experience. You may need to prepare yourself to work for free for a little while, that is why it is essential you network and get placements whilst you are still a student. It is vital to know people and like they say ‘It’s not what you know but who you know that matters’. A tip is to remember the word ‘networking’ and apply it to your life daily and you will soon see your contact list grow. You need to show determination and be ambitious and you can be sure you will achieve. However, if you do opt for the career path, it’s important to be prepared for rejection and have the attitude that you will continue until you succeed. It’s a tough market out there at the moment with the economic state but if you are determined and ambitious this will show and someone will give you the job.
We spoke to Helen from London who told us about how she got her career rolling by doing work experience and working for free before she was offered a full-time position at a well-known PR company in London.

‘I graduated 3 years ago and it took some time for me to realise what my ideal career would be. I had work experience at a magazine, a modelling agency and a PR company before I decided exactly what it was I wanted to do. I did my final work placement at a PR company and it opened my eyes to see that this was the career for me. I have spent the past 6 months learning the ins and outs of the company and have been given a promotion. My advice for anyone coming out of university is that you have to work hard and do it with a smile on your face even if you hate what you are doing. Commitment and hard work does not go unnoticed and you will be thankful when the company gives you a shining recommendation that may just land you the career you want.’

Read Part 2 of You’ve Graduated! Now What?! next Friday

You’ve Graduated! Now What?! – Part 2

Graduated Now WhatA career path is an excellent choice after all you have studied for years to get the qualification in your chosen field of interest. Getting your foot in the door straight after university is a wise idea as you can get experience and really chase the career you want from day one.

However, if you chose the other path of taking some time out to decide what you want from life then this is also a great choice. You can enhance your life and really find out what you want from life and there are many options you can take. Whether that be a round the world trip, volunteering or simply just relaxing, it is a good idea to plan well and be prepared. It’s exciting to try something new and explore the world. Whilst this is good and you should always know how to keep safe and secure on your adventures. Always check that your source is from a reputable place and any agencies that require travel are backed up with ATOL and ABTA as well as ensuring that you have the correct insurance that will cover you in all cases. Most of all be safe and use your instincts to judge whether something is good or not, it is usually right. That aside, let’s get talking about all the exciting things you can do in a year out from the responsibilities life can bring.

If you chose to travel then you have a whole world to explore. Perhaps you always wanted to go to America and do Route 66 or dip your feet in the Pacific Ocean or Indian Ocean whilst soaking up the sun in Australia. How about a ride on an elephant or being a wildlife care taker where your days are looking after kangaroos or swimming with dolphins? Sounds amazing right? Whatever you chose to do you can be sure that it will give you a whole new perspective on life. You will grow as a person and discover what you really want from life. There are many companies who can help you plan and organise your year out such as Bunac, Trek America and PGL.

Have you ever thought about experiencing a new culture first hand, learning the traditions and living like the citizens? If you like children and have some experience with them (babysitting a sibling is fine) then a good way of soaking up a culture is to Au Pair. You can do this all over the world and there are many agencies that work with families and are fully checked so you are sure you will be safe and have the time of your life. If America is the culture you’re interested in then Au Pair in America is a very experienced and trusted agency that have been helping young women have a year of a lifetime for over 25 years. The process is thorough and safe so you know that you are well looked after. You sign up online and begin payments (which are very little for what you get) then you are matched to families who meet your requirements. You then spend some time getting to know some families who contact you before making a decision on who you are going to live with for the year. During your time in America you are giving an orientation in New York before you fly to your family and begin a year of a lifetime. You take care of the family’s children and get pocket money of roughly $200 per week which is yours to do as you wish as the family take care of all your food and bills.

Someone who knows all about spending time out is Emily from Sussex. She took a year out in 2008 to do Au Pair in America. It was an exciting time for her and a decision she has never looked back on. Emily began her journey on August 4th 2008; she boarded a plane to New York where she would spend 3 days on orientation before heading to Atlanta Georgia for her year of a lifetime. She got the chance to live with an American family and was treated like an older sister to the kids she looked after. She had her own apartment in the basement of a luxurious house in a picturesque neighbourhood and loved every minute of her time there. Emily told us ‘If someone is looking to gain independence and experience a new culture then this is the perfect way to do it. I had the time of my life there and would highly recommend anyone thinking of doing a similar thing to grab it with both hands.’

This is just one of a thousand options you can take on your year out. The world is your oyster and you can choose to explore it in your very own unique way. So if you are thinking of taking time out to travel you should investigate all of your options. The same applies to that of volunteering; there are many companies that deal with opportunities to volunteer either here in the UK or abroad. As will the career path, you also need to be prepared that things won’t always go to plan and sometimes situations may arise which may lead you in a different direction. You need to be wise and have your wits about you especially if you are going half way across the world on your own and you don’t know the culture. Remember every country is different and although the UK and the USA have similarities, the cultures are very different and the way the Americans do things can be very different and you may find yourself in dangerous situations. So always do your research and do the best planning you can to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable adventure.
This is an exciting time in your life, you are taking a large step from being a student to being a grown up. You should take it with both hands and go running into your chosen path. The road may be smooth but most likely you will run into potholes or come up against dead ends but do not give up. Life is a journey and we learn the most when times get tough and they make us stronger. It is good to have ambition and that drive to succeed; it’s what is going to make you great.

Plan, prepare and do your research. You will achieve great things if you do this. Graduation is just the beginning of a long road to achieving the life goals you want and if you let it, it will be a fantastic adventure.