29 January 2024

What to do after University

Alt Text!

What are YOU going to do after university?

Frightening question isn’t it? But one that no doubt every student has been stressing over. 

For some, university would’ve shown them exactly what they like and dislike, paving a set career path (if this is you, congratulations you’re doing amazing sweetie). For others, they’re still figuring it out. And that’s okay!

If you fall into one of these categories or anywhere in between, there’s a minefield of opportunities out there just for you. Amazing news, but a right pain to navigate. So let’s make it easier. 

Here’s a summary of what to do after university, and the different routes you can take.

The academic route: Doing a postgraduate degree

First reason

If you’re wondering what to do after university, a postgrad degree is a great way to jump the queue of the graduate career ladder and secure yourself a more senior position from the get-go.

The advanced knowledge you gain will be in a totally different ballpark from that of an undergrad degree. With specialist jobs, the nicher the skillset the better, and a post-grad course is a fabulous way to do it.

Second reason

If you’re someone who’s had a change of heart on your degree subject, that’s another reason to do a Masters. It’s the perfect way to redirect yourself towards the path you actually want. 

Maybe you chose your business degree because you didn’t know what to do after university or maybe you can’t imagine working in finance after three years of numbers and spreadsheets. 

Don’t you worry.

In fact, more than half of graduates in employment aren’t working in a field they studied at University.

So if your degree and ideal career path are polar opposites, that’s totally fine. A Masters will come to the rescue and set things straight.

Third reason

If your future plans involve working or settling down abroad then remember, many countries require a postgraduate level of education even at entry level. 

Even if working abroad isn’t your thing, you should still consider doing a Master’s abroad if you’re unsure what to do after university. Why? Because some countries provide post-grad degrees for free!  

Germany, Iceland, the Czech Republic and Finland are four European countries offering a free or relatively inexpensive Master’s degree with some exceptions.

Talk about hacking the system!

How to apply for a Master’s

Unlike undergraduate applications, Master’s applications are submitted to universities directly. There are a few exceptions for which you can go through UCAS Postgraduate. Make sure to check which Universities use UCAS Postgraduate.

But on the whole, here are a few things to note before you start your application process:

Choose a Masters course you would like to apply toResearch, research, research before you decide. There are full Masters programmes (1 yr) with an extra six-month placement that will cost you the same as a Master’s programme without the placement. So dig deep and get the best value.
Contact your potential refereesThis could be your seminar tutor, a lecturer, an employer, a mentor or anyone you have a close professional relationship with.
Write up your personal statementThen rewrite it, proofread it, ask your tutor to read it, ask your mum to read it, and whilst you’re at it maybe even your next-door neighbour. And maybe after 72 drafts it’ll be ready (just kidding – but seriously if you need personal statement help, there are tons of articles on it.
ApplyApply online directly through the university website or through UCAS postgraduate.
Attach your supporting documentsAside from your application form, personal statement and references, these are some documents you may be asked for:

– Research proposal
– Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable)
– Copies of your degree certificate and academic transcripts.
Regularly check your email app(Pretend it’s TikTok if you must).

It’s important to note that some companies are open to sponsoring a Master’s degree so it might be better to secure a grad role first and get your Masters sponsored by your employer later on. Who knows, you might even return to a hefty promotion! Double whammy.

Upskilling yourself

University’s finished. You know what that means? It’s time to shake off that bedraggled exam season uni student look (it’s not a good one, we’ve all been there) with a post-grad glow-up!

We’re not talking about a physical one, we’re talking about a skills glow-up.

VolunteeringIf you’re wondering what to do after university, volunteering is a great way to gain new skills and give back to a cause you care about. If you want to travel whilst developing skills, perhaps volunteer abroad.

You could teach English or another language or perhaps choose to rescue endangered sea turtles. Whatever rocks your socks. 

Or perhaps you want to try something entirely different…like volunteering in Zimbabwe.
Opportunities abroadIf travelling sounds like your cup of coffee, then volunteering is just one option. You could take part in a study abroad programme. Ask your university if they host any or what partner universities they have abroad. 

Independent travel is also an option – yes it’s a vacation but the independence and new perspectives you’ll gain from travel are quite desirable in the world of work.
Short coursesNeed more options on what to do after university? Learning at your own speed, wrapped in a blanket with hot chocolate in your hands from the very comfort of your own home. Now why would you not want that? Online courses are just the tool to upskill yourself.

Udemy or LinkedinLearning are great starting points with hundreds of courses spanning most subjects. If you really want to be a baller, then do a university-accredited short course for a fee.

This way, you can brush up on what you’ve learned at university, find a niche you enjoy, or even explore another field. A lot of these courses will give you a certificate at the end which is a great way to show the world your initiative and improved skill set.
Internships and Insight SchemesSecuring an internship or insight scheme during this time will benefit you heaps. It’s a practical way of applying the knowledge learnt in a classroom and makes you oh so sexy (in an employable way of course).
Networking eventsAttend networking events and find people whose jobs you want. Pick their brains like a zombie. Ask how they started off, what skills they feel they need and any other questions under the sun.

The more you know, the better prepared you are. (Don’t forget to get their Linkedin or email, this may come in handy later when you’re in the midst of job hunting).
Online Competitions/Getting publishedAttend networking events and find people whose jobs you want. Pick their brains like a zombie. Ask how they started off, what skills they feel they need and any other questions under the sun.

The more you know, the better prepared you are. (Don’t forget to get their LinkedIn or email, this may come in handy later when you’re in the midst of job hunting).

So, you have hundreds of skills. Good for you! But what are they? And how do you make sure you’re including the right ones? Have a read through our guide to soft and hard skills.

Straight to the world of work

Leaving university is bittersweet. The sweet part is the dream graduate that awaits you. And here’s all the advice you need on securing it.

Get organised

To get started, get organised. That is the biggest, fattest, juiciest tip we can give you.

Because trust us, down the line when you’ve applied to a ton of roles and have no idea who’s rejected you and who hasn’t in the chaos of your email inbox, you’re going to miss deadlines and let opportunities pass by. 

Remember all graduate schemes work differently. Some roles will be in a specific area for example: a marketing graduate role will mean you get stuck into the marketing field straight away. 

Other companies will put you on a rotation so you can experience every department before they assign you where your strengths lie. 

Some graduate schemes are training-heavy and some are work-heavy and some are an even split. It all depends on the way you like to work and learn so get clear on what your programme will be like.

In terms of WHO you want to work for, here are your best 100 student employers to work for, as voted by students like you. You can also read experiences from real students and what they did after university.

So there you have it, all the different pathways you can take if you’re unsure of what to do after university. But by no means is this an exhaustive list, the options really are endless.

I would encourage you not to settle and to seek out an opportunity, from this list or not, that best fits your goals. Good luck and happy hunting!