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Thursday, July 11, 2013

I've graduated: what next?

Our intern Hollie has just graduated - congratulations! So what next? She is here to tell you. 
I graduated last week: robes were worn, champagne was drunk, tears were shed and scrolls were tossed ceremoniously in the air. I have to admit that I’m probably more proud of myself for not falling over on stage than for actually getting a degree, but unfortunately I’ve been advised against putting that under ‘achievements’ on my CV. Oh well.

Now that I have to reluctantly relinquish all ties to studenthood I’m back to giving some serious thought to what to do with, well, the rest of my life. The question I used to be bombarded with (‘so what are you going to do when you graduate?’) has now grotesquely mutated into an equally frightening apparition: ‘what are you doing now you’ve graduated?’

I’ve always envied people who’ve known what they want to do from the start, who’ve gone out and got the relevant experience they need and maybe even done internships with the company that they want to work with when they’re older. Alas life’s not always like that, and like me, most people leave uni without a clue about what they want to do. Personally I have enough trouble deciding what to eat for breakfast every day, let alone what I want to do for a living after I’ve finished my internship here.

My degree was in English literature and mathematics so at the moment I’m not faced with the most glaringly obvious career path. As you’ll have gathered from my last post, I don’t want to get involved with finance, and I’ve discovered that I potentially have the option to go into law, IT, management, retail, media, marketing, teaching – not to mention all the kinds of jobs out there that I probably haven’t even heard of. When there’s so much choice available it’s difficult to know where to start.

Some people have said to me that a job’s a job – getting up and doing a 9-5 slog to pay the bills is part of life and you just have to deal with it. But you know what? I’m a Chandler Bing and it’s going to take the Monica Geller of jobs for me to settle down.

To translate for the non-Friends watchers of you out there: I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe and if I’m not overly sold on something I won’t be able to stick with it. However I do know that if I am enjoying something I’ll be completely invested and will put my best efforts in. So I want a job that I know I’m going to enjoy, that will give me challenges that I want to face and that won’t leave me longing for the minute hand on the clock to tick just a little bit faster.

My editor here at TARGETjobs gave me some pretty good advice the other day: she told me to make a list of any jobs or work experience I’ve ever done before and then pick out what exactly I liked about each one. So far I have the following:

1)       Various waitressing jobs: dealing with people, making eye contact with Gerard Butler while working at the VIP suite at Murrayfield, and being paid cash in hand so I didn’t have to look at my bank balance.
2)       Volunteering with children in Morocco: doing something worthwhile that was helping other people while getting a kick-ass tan at the same time.
3)       My summer job cleaning out student houses: the incentive to get the job done quicker so I could leave earlier and the intrigue of never knowing what I’d find lurking under a bed.
4)       Transport surveyor: getting to wear a high-vis jacket, being outside in the fresh air and working in a different location every shift.
5)       Operating the checkouts at Tesco: chatting to customers and trying to guess what they were having for tea that night based on what was in their trolley.
6)       Writing for a student magazine and the Glasgow Journal newspaper: having a deadline to work to and being able to see my efforts as a finished product.
7)       Student ambassador: talking to potential undergraduates, promoting something I genuinely wanted to promote and getting to charge things to the uni expense account.
8)       Working on the lamb stall at a farmers market: nothing.

After writing that, although I’ve done some pretty diverse things, I can spot some recurring trends: I like variety, I like working with people and I like to have a goal to work towards. It’s a start. My next step is to spend the next few weeks doing as much career research as I can, find out what working in different sectors entails and look for roles that involve the qualities I just discovered I want. I’ll let you know how I’m doing in my next post…


If you too need help deciding what to do - try out our Careers Report.