The initial months and weeks after University can feel like entering a great unknown: you’ve been in a stint of education for well over a decade and it has come to an end. You’ve no longer got a framework of lectures, seminars, and deadlines to structure your week and there is no, or little, loan left to live on. This is the time you supposedly enter the ‘real’ world, but it need not be a time for worry. There are several options available to each graduate as they, cliché as it may sound, commence the rest of their life.
Perhaps you have enjoyed the world of academia and wish it to continue, the field you seek to enter demands further qualifications, or you just want to bide your time and contemplate what it is you really want to do. If this is the case, Post-Graduate study may be for you. A Master’s degree can be a useful transitional year as you expand, or refine, the breadth of knowledge acquired during your undergraduate study. A masters can help differentiate you from the sea of other graduates looking for potential employment, as it demonstrates a greater academic ability and the degrees are typically widely applicable, so you’re not trapped by the chosen topic. Further than the master’s is the PhD. It would seem generally advisable that this is for those that have a firm idea of what they want to do and where the utility in the degree will lie; it’s an option that requires a lot of time and toil, lest we forget money, but it can be the stepping-stone to a very fruitful career.
Having had enough of formal education, you may seek to straightaway enter the job market and find a graduate job. This can be the start of your world as a career-driven professional and thus the degree you just earned might come in handy. There’s a good chance the first graduate job you land won’t be the one of your dreams, but in entering the labyrinthine job market it can be necessary to suffer a little for the future – plus it might allow you to decide a field is one you definitely don’t want to be in. If a profession requires you to develop a specific set of skills, work-experience may be a sensible option. It can both help to further differentiate you from other graduates who don’t possess the necessary experience for a certain industry, and bolster even more that ever-important CV.
If all of this sounds frightfully mundane to you, like a hell on earth which you wish would never come, then fear not because the option of travelling or a gap year may appeal more to you. You are still a young human being bursting with vitality – one would hope – and you needn’t be tied down just yet. However idealistic it may sound to some, travelling the globe and venturing into cultural unknowns can be a necessary means of discovering what it is you actually want to do, or just an end in itself as an experience that will shape who you are for the better. These are the years of your life in which you can afford to be experimental in your endeavours and there be still time on the horizon for that profitable career – not that the latter can’t stem from the former.
Of course, there are innumerable many more options, but these are the prominent few available to most students. Life after university need not be a looming void to fear; it should be seen as the expanse in which all you’ve acquired through a long schooling can be put to good use – whatever avenue it is you eventually choose.