So, I’ve just finished 6 years of studying full time. What now? Where to next? There’s no curriculum I can choose from, no study advisor I can ask for advice, no student loan I can rely on… Now it’s all up to me.
This is the moment I have been dreading ever since my last year of university. While I have been preparing somewhat, finishing university still left a hole in my life. I am not able to see my study buddies every day, I have to work a lot to support my way of living, and I have to figure out what to do next. I was lucky that I got some extra time to think about all of this, when I was offered a temporary job at the institute where I did my last internship. This gave me some breathing space to slowly transition towards a longer-term job. However, currently I have three months left at my current job and am racking my brains as to what to do next.
At first, I thought I was the only one. It seemed like everyone around me new what they wanted to do and got a job almost immediately. My boyfriend got a great job at his internship organisation two months after graduating, another friend got a job at university, another one started a PhD and more and more study friends showed up with cool jobs on LinkedIn. As I said, it seemed like everyone knew what they wanted, and got it. Then I started sharing my doubts with some other friends and heard about their uncertainties as well. While some of them had jobs, they still didn’t know whether this was really what they wanted to do in the long-term. Some other friends also chose to continue studying, they either took longer or started a second master degree to broaden their career opportunities. I realised there were more people out there with the same struggles as I had, which led me to writing this blog.
I still don’t know how to handle this situation. Maybe I should have prepared more during university, maybe I didn’t specialize enough (my master degree was Forest and Nature Conservation, which is still a very broad topic), but well, there’s nothing I can do about that anymore. I have applied for several jobs, and also received several rejections. But at the same time I have found some opportunities as well (such as a job on the other side of the world). Now it all depends on what I decide to do and it feels like it’s my brains against my emotions, but in the end I have to choose somehow. At least I have a great opportunity ahead of me, and three months of work left, so enough time to figure things out.
Through this blog I mostly wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in feeling lost after graduating. I have done everything the way I was supposed to, bachelor degree with honours, master degree with a GPA of 4.0 and numerous side activities, but I still feel like I’m not prepared for the rest of my future. I guess that’s life, and especially in the age we live in now with social media and endless opportunities (look up the terms fomo and fobo for example, I think this is definitely something that applies to me). Some tips I can give you that helped me little by little are:
- Try to figure out what you’d really like to do. Even if this is not entirely what you studied, sometimes you can still find a way to get there through an internship or online courses for example
- If you’re still studying, look for a nice internship with an organisation you might want to stay with. They might offer you a job, which will give you some security after graduation
- Talk to friends about what they want to do
- Don’t spend too much time on social media (facebook, linkedin, Instagram). This has led me to feel like everyone was doing amazing things while I still had no idea. And it didn’t make me feel any better
- Network! Even if it’s just with fellow students, network! Try to figure out what other people do, what kind of organisations they work at, what other job opportunities could be. Maybe even bring your own business cards so you can hand them out. You never know what happens!
- Browse for jobs, even before graduation. Look on jobadvertising websites, university websites, academic career websites, subscribe to job alerts from organisations you like. Even if you don’t always find something, it gives you a good overview of all the opportunities out there!
- Don’t forget that it’s always an option to do temporary work to make some money while looking for better opportunities! I sometimes forget about this when I’m worrying about what I should do when I lose my job, but this is always a nice backup!
Well, I hope this helps! If you have any advice for me or want to ask me some questions, please let me know in the comments. And good luck with everything!