As the long summer break draws to a close, your last term at university may seem to be somewhat of a distant memory, a blur of celebrations, (hopefully) successes and, in some cases, challenges.
The down–time you get over the summer has hopefully given you chance to recover but now you may be left thinking ‘what next’? If you’re not sorted at this stage it may be time to start thinking about how you navigate career planning.
The first thing to do is not to panic. Whilst at university it is very easy to look around you and see your friends who seem to have a solid idea that a particular career path is right for them. Indeed many graduates consider to pursue a career path that is influenced by those around them; family, friends, colleagues and the media. Whilst these sources can really help to generate ideas it really pays to spend some time thinking about what YOU want, it’s all about your future and your happiness so spending time getting this right really will pay dividends.
Come up with a plan
Once you get over the initial feeling of not having a plan, it’s important not to let this stifle you. Consider how you manage your time effectively to ensure that you make progress and at the same time maintain a level head.
Consider setting aside a set period of time every day that you can spend on career planning and set yourself short-term attainable goals, for example by xyz date you want to have generated 3 career areas that interest you so that you can explore these further. We have an excellent blog post that we put together earlier on this year which discusses Stress Free Career Panning – Is It Possible? and most universities will offer support with your career planning if you are feeling the pressure is on. Be sure to speak to your careers service to see what is on offer, at Warwick we run workshops throughout the year that can help reduce the pressure of career planning.
Reflect on your journey
It’s important to think about what skills you have gained from your experience at university. Start with your course and think about what you achieved, and what you are proud of? Once you have these ideas then think about the aspects of these you enjoyed, what did you do well and what motivated you?
Think about what else you were involved in, part time work, clubs and societies, volunteering etc. and do the same with these experiences. One you have done this you should build up a picture of the kinds of things that you like to do that both motivate and inspire you, and possibly some others that don’t!
At Warwick you have access to MyPortfolio (available to graduates for one year following graduation) which is one way to make the most of your time at university. Capturing your experiences and reflecting on learning, enables you to articulate your experiences and feel more confident in applications and interviews.
Go to the job market
You next need to go out there and network! A good starting point is to attend a careers fair or a sector-based event, be sure to check with your own careers service to find out when this is happening. At Warwick these run a few times throughout the course of the year and are open to current students and graduates and will give you the chance to find out about opportunities but also to network with recruiters to gain a greater understand of how you can succeed.
Your university careers service will run events throughout the year so be sure to look at their website and see if they have a profile on LinkedIn, as they may advertise events on there. If you have studied at Warwick it’s worth regularly checking our Events page so that you are sure not to miss anything that is coming up.
You’re not alone
The final point is probably the most important, remember you’re not in the process alone. There is a lot of support out there for you, speak to your careers service. Explore the LinkedIn Alumni Tool so that you can connect with graduates from your university.
For Warwick students and graduates Warwick Alumni is a good place to connect with over 200,000 alumni worldwide, the Alumni e-Mentoring lets you build your network and uncover opportunities. As a graduate from Warwick you have lifetime access to the services offered by Student Careers and Skills. We offer a flexible approach and can conduct appointments either in person or via Skype.
Finally, remember to keep in touch with your careers service. We always love to hear from graduates, be it to help and support with your career planning or to hear about your success. If you graduated from Warwick this year then we will be in touch with you sometime around December/January to hear about what you are now doing and this will feed into the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education.