When in school, we are constantly fed information about the importance of getting a degree. “Pick the right subjects for your degree“/"Find out how many points you might need for your degree” and so on. Then in college/university we hear daily about the value of getting at least a 2.1 degree.
Unlike school however, we don’t get much guidance in college about what to do after graduation day, so it is hard to see beyond the piece of paper with your name and qualification scribed across it. The “done thing” in Ireland these days seems to be finish your degree and then to go on to do a master’s degree.
But for this SpunOutter, that was the very last plan on the list. With guidance counsellors, friends, family and lecturers telling you what you should do next, it is hard to know what is best. Depending on your career choice, there are various options for the “next step” on your path to the dream job, but only you know which one will suit you best.
See the world
This option is not as feasible as it was a few years ago, but if you have the means, you can do some travelling after your degree. This can be beneficial as it allows you to gain some cultural and professional experience. While it might be tempting to avoid work, and instead drink cocktails out of buckets; if you manage to get some relevant work in a sunnier climate for the summer it can be a win-win situation.
Internships are becoming a dirty word these days, as many companies are opting for freebies instead of hiring young staff. While working for free can be stressful, if you are getting the experience you need to get a permanent job, what’s the harm? Look up the companies you would most like to work for and see if they have any graduate internship schemes. Yes, it will be a struggle, and there very well might be some “I wish I could afford a social life” tears, but it could be invaluable for the foundation of your career.
Work from the bottom
Let’s face it, despite your dreams of getting a degree and walking into your dream job, you’re not going to become an architect just because you got a first in your degree. It takes a degree plus hard work to climb the career ladder. If that means stuffing envelopes and organising meetings for a year, so be it.
Moving straight on to an MA can be a very overwhelming idea and it isn’t financially realistic for most students unless they have extra support. This doesn’t mean that you have to rest on your laurels though. Most bachelor degrees are quite broad and they do not focus on one specific area of the subject studied; you might have studied Business, but want to get into marketing. Don’t let your lack of experience or money for a master’s stop you from continuing towards your goal.
If you have a junior job in a business for example, whether related to your chosen career or not, add to your degree by studying a FETAC course in the subject, doing an NFQ level 8 certificate and studying for other professional qualifications. The more interest and eagerness you show in your career, the better it will look to prospective employers.
So there you have it; despite what our secondary schools might teach us, the world doesn’t end at college graduation. You might feel like the most intelligent person in the world as you turn the tassel on your cap to the other side, but the reality is that you have to keep working to get “that job”. Once you know where you want to be in a few years’ time, examine the multiple options available to you and decide which option is best. After all no one else knows better what you want than yourself.