Not to panic you or anything, but has anyone else noticed that we’re already one semester into the academic year? Okay, so it’s important not to have a big breakdown over Christmas – save that for 6 months after graduation when you’re back living at home and doing a paper run. But seriously, this is only the mid-point in the year, and there are certain things you simply can’t do until the new year rolls around.
Having said that, if you’re anything like me it probably feels like the rest of your life is rapidly approaching. It’s still a smart idea to explore your options at this stage, just to see what’s out there and what you might be aiming for. But there are plenty of DO’s and DON’Ts to bear in mind along the way:
- DO have a back-up plan. There are lots of different routes into every career and lots of different courses that can give you what you need. Start compiling a list of all your possible options post-graduation to avoid leaving things to the last-minute.
- DO your research. If you’re considering a graduate course or even a master’s degree, now is a great time to look into campuses or facilities further. Book yourself into an open day or simply drop by during the holidays while it’s quiet and you can get a good look around by yourself.
- DO keep writing around your subject. If you’re a potential journalist then you have to prove to any interviewer that you’ve been keeping up with recent news, and that you’re used to writing regularly. Whether it’s a blog or other online publication, keep your posts consistent and well-focused on your subject. That way, you already have a body of work to present at any future interviews.
- DO keep working hard. University/college isn’t over yet, so keep focusing on your final essays and projects. You still need good grades to graduate with!
- DON’T apply for anything and everything you find. The best time of year to find work experience and internships is always around Spring, when people start posting new placements. Now is a good time to bookmark promising job pages and keep checking back on them, but you don’t need to apply for everything listed right away. Giving yourself a bit more time means you’ll have a better idea of your predicted grade and your plans for the summer and beyond, making your application clearer and more cohesive.
- DON’T panic! There’s almost six months to go before graduation and before real life kicks in, so you’ve got plenty of time to find your next project. Whether you want to go straight into the world of work, or into further education, now’s the best time to plan it all out and give yourself some choices so it doesn’t become too stressful next year. But, it’s also good to wait and see what else comes up – because you really never know – or if you feel any differently come the new year. Be prepared, but don’t rush into things either. It’s all about balance.
If you spend a lot of time worrying about the future, get a small notebook and keep track of your thoughts and all your options for post-graduation. Use the front for general bits of info about you and your course that you can use in applications. After that, write the name of every month for the next year at the top of each double page spread and use it as a running calendar of your progress. You can then keep track of deadlines for applications, interview dates and also any work experience or placements that you get, so you know when you’re free to take on more work or start other jobs.