If you struggle committing to a new TV show, the idea of deciding what to do after university can be daunting. But there’s good news! You’re not alone and you’re not going to be shackled to one career choice forever.
You've been building your employability skills since first year, with each careers fair, unit of study, extracurricular activity and workshop expanding your skillset. Regardless, it's normal to feel the pressure mounting in final year to secure a job for after university.
The World Economic Forum estimates that you’ll change your career at least seven times – and at least five of your future jobs don’t even exist yet (which isn’t exactly helpful when trawling Seek.com!)
That’s not to say that the job you take straight after you graduate isn’t important. It will be a springboard for your career (perhaps the first of several) and form the foundation of your experience and skills, even at entry level.
If you’re not quite sure which step to take after university, here are some options:
Spend two minutes in the Abercrombie Building and you’ll hear business students clamouring over graduate programs. Grad jobs are tailor made for uni-leavers, but oddly students in some other disciplines often overlook it. Grad jobs are offered in lots of different industries; you just need to know where and when to look.
Grad programs can be competitive; boost your chances by participating in volunteer work, internships and vacation work while you’re still at university. You often need to apply during your last year of uni, so do your research as early as possible.
Wait, you can travel and build your employability? Travel broadens the mind and Australian employers know it. A stint of international work experience on your CV is a good way to show that you’re motivated, independent, adaptable and a good communicator. It’ll also give you a chance to learn more about yourself and your motivations.
If you want to work in a fast-paced environment and push yourself beyond your comfort zone, then join a start-up. Start-ups usually have small teams, which means you’ll need to take on more responsibility than you would in a larger company. You’ll work closely with people with vastly different experiences, and have ample opportunity to bolster your transferable skillset. It’s true, a lot of start-ups fall by the wayside – but learning to deal with failure is a hugely important lesson in work and life. Ask any entrepreneur worth their salt.
Get a head-start while you’re at uni, by getting involved with one of the entrepreneurial programs on campus.
Still feel like you have unfinished business on campus? Pursuing an honours degree doesn’t commit you to a career in academia if that’s not your ambition, but it does add significant value to your professional skillset. You’ll fine tune your research, critical thinking and communication abilities and demonstrate to employers that you’re not shy of a challenge and to go the extra mile. You never know – you might even discover that you do want to pursue research further. It’s a win-win.
Most people say they’ll wait a few years before coming back to university… and never do. There are plenty of reasons to jump right into your postgraduate study. It’ll give you a big head-start in your early career, and make you a specialist able to pitch for jobs that few others have the ability or qualifications to take on. You might also wish to gain new professional qualifications, change your career direction or pursue a personal ambition.
Whatever your goal, postgraduate study will help you to develop transferable skills like networking, cross-cultural communication, teamwork and problem solving.
It’s never too early to start planning for your career. From the first year of university to after graduation, the Careers Centre can help you maximise your employability and find work.