What can I do with my degree? Shaping your career path after university
There is no right way to shape your career path.
It may sound cliche, but it’s true, and it is an essential starting point.
The path to a successful career is often a winding one, filled with opportunities, challenges, and choices that will define your trajectory.
To find the right career after university, it's essential to approach it with clarity, adaptability, and openness.
Do not be fooled into thinking there are a set of steps that you’re bound to follow.
Sure, you may be suited to traditional office work, in which case there are graduate recruitment agencies you can contact.
But, you may feel like you belong doing something more practical, creative, or innovative.
In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of mapping out a career path, how you should go about it, and the sort of routes you can pursue.
Either way, we’ll help you shape a career that is completely yours.
Why define your career path?
Life can be busy and stressful, so you may be wondering why you’d bother aggravating this.
The thought of mapping out a career path and forcing yourself to have professional goals can seem taxing.
However, if you break the process down, it’s more likely to reduce stress.
Thinking about your career path after university doesn’t mean setting unattainable goals. It is about assessing what your skills are, reflecting on what you enjoy, and remaining flexible.
And, through this process, you can learn a lot more about yourself. For example, you may learn that you want to go down an entirely unexpected career path.
That may be easier said than done, but we’re here to help.
How to shape your career path?
Firstly, try to be adaptable.
There are endless options out there, and a variety of routes to get to these endpoints.
Try to grow outside of your comfort zone, and take on things like networking events, go to co-working spaces,
Be open, and cultivate a mindset that embraces challenges as chances to learn and innovate.
Still, it’s important to have some direction, or your career can feel overwhelming. Setting some achievable goals can help you find your feet
Realise your skills
Take the time to reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and values.
At university you would’ve nurtured a range of skills, now it’s time to identify them!
Think about the modules you thrived in, particular lecturers you bonded with, and extracurricular projects you felt suited to.
It can be hard to look inward, so seek feedback from colleagues, mentors, and friends.
This way, it can be easier to notice your flaws, celebrate your wins, and understand the sort of professional space you could thrive in.
Self-assessment gives you an insight into not just the sort of career you could pursue, but also the career you want to pursue…
Work out what you enjoy
A fulfilling career path isn’t just about what you’re good at. It’s about the things that make you happy.
You’ll spend about 30% of our life working, so it’s worth trying to find something you truly love.
Think about what truly motivates you. This might not be something traditional, like an office job in a city.
If you think you’re someone that’s motivated by your own deadlines or by unconventional experiences, then don’t be afraid to follow your gut and step outside the office!
Look for support
It might not be easy to see, but there is support everywhere.
It might be from friends, family, current colleagues, university career advisors, or an interesting entrepreneur you met at an event. It will depend on where you’re at in your life, but either way, try to absorb as much advice as possible.
Everyone approaches their career differently, and a surprising bit of advice can push you down an interesting career path you might have otherwise not considered.
Going to a networking event, for example, might put you in contact with a freelancer, or a startup owner, or a social activist, all who have their own unique perspective on what a career looks like.
These people can remind you that you’re not alone, and that shaping a career path is a long, and sometimes difficult process. And that that’s okay.
Straight out of university, it’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself.
You may not get it right the first time (or the second)!
But, using the tips we listed above, start to think strategically about where your career path could look like.
Here are a few examples of where you could start your career.
There are many reasons to try and go freelance.
The first being freedom. If you work effectively on your own schedule, then you’ll thrive as a freelancer.
You’ll have deadlines from the companies or individuals paying you for your work, but you’ll be free to work the hours you want, and where you want.
It’s common to freelance in creative industries but it is not limited to this. If you’re adept at graphic design, writing, coding, or translation, it’s likely you could find opportunities to be self-employed.
It certainly isn’t for everyone, as it demands a great amount of self-discipline and will mean you don’t have a stable salary.
Even if it isn’t viable to try this straight after university, you can treat it as a long term career goal.
When you don’t know where to take your career, internships, placements, and graduate programs are great starting points.
They can give you a taster into certain industries, company sizes, and office spaces in general.
It’s a good way to accumulate experience, and it’s an effective way of getting comfortable in the professional world.
Companies offer everything from one week placements to one year internships. If you want to try and experience as many things as possible, you can try to line-up a few placements in a year.
From there, it can be much easier to get a graduate job, and potentially a role you didn’t feel qualified for before.
Launch a business/personal project
Feel like you’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit?
More than ever, grads are tempted to launch their own startups, brands, and projects.
We’re not suggesting that starting your own business is easy (unfortunately, most startup ventures fail).
But, it can certainly be an exciting and fulfilling career path. If you’ve got the confidence and the drive to launch your own ventures, it’s worth strategically mapping it into your career plan.
There are other ways to innovate, too.
With social media’s ever-growing presence, it’s easy to create an Instagram, LinkedIn, or TikTok, and become a content creator or thought leader in a particular field.
There are plenty of examples of where these little social media projects have blown-up into something substantial: it’s definitely not easy to become an influencer, but it’s not unattainable.
Sometimes, the perfect career path doesn’t start with anything professional at all.
After multiple years of hard studying at university, it can take some time to clear your head and reset.
And if the post-exam summer doesn’t do it, don’t rule out a post-uni gap year.
Travelling can be incredibly exciting, but it’s also an opportunity to go outside your comfort zone and learn about yourself.
It’s likely you’ll return home realising you’re passionate about things you didn’t realise before. Exposure to different cultures, cities, and environments can inspire you in ways you never would’ve been otherwise.
Sometimes, to shape a career, you have to see the world!
Shaping your career path is a dynamic process.
Do not feel that you have to pick a path and stick to it.
Your career is bound to change with your life.
But, no matter what happens, your career path is in your hands.
You’ll learn new passions, find things you want to stay away from, and realise secret talents.
Don’t be afraid to keep shaping your career path around these new discoveries!
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