When I speak to my peers about their plans after graduation I am generally met with one of two responses.
The first, is a reply becoming of a student who attends one of Scotland’s great educational institutions. They take a deep breath and articulate clearly their chosen career path, telling me in well rehearsed detail about their proactive post-graduate planning. They emphasise their extracurriculars and the way in which their CV will decimate mine in any head-to-head job interview, or the numerous offers which they have received for Masters programs.
“The far more common response is one which does not manifest itself audibly. Instead, a noticeable grimace comes across the respondent’s face as their head shrinks down into their neck […]”
The far more common response is one which does not manifest itself audibly. Instead, a noticeable grimace comes across the respondent’s face as their head shrinks quickly down into their neck – almost as though they are trying to imitate a turtle. When they do summon the courage to speak, their syntax is fractured, punctuated with phrases like, “well […] I’ve been looking at the Lidl graduate scheme” or, “I think some kind of Masters course could be good but I haven’t really given it much thought”.
I must admit that I fall into the latter category. My four years at the University of Edinburgh have done little for my confidence when it comes to the next stage of my life and, if I am honest, I don’t think that I have been particularly proactive in planning for my existence post-degree.
I look to people in my lectures and seminars and see shining beacons of employability, all the while rather conscious of the fact that in just over 34 weeks, a vast wave of graduates will be scrambling for jobs in my desired field. A field with skilled employment prospects for graduates in 2016 reaching “pre-crisis levels” according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. It is evident that aggressive over preparation will put you on the best footing when it comes to entering the world of work.
For those of you who read this and aren’t my parents or potential future employers: I ask that you take heed. Those younglings among you who have the opportunity to plan ahead almost certainly should.
I’m not advocating hardcore commitment to a particular career, just make yourself aware that in a relatively short amount of time (258 days in my case) your life in the university bubble is going to be dangerously close to a needle.
Make use of the resources that are available to you through the University (you’re paying for them after all). Go to the Careers Fair, start work on that perfect LinkedIn profile and have a good long think about what you want your post university life to look like.
Of course, if that’s not what you’re all about, you could just go into academia.
Image: Adam Shaw