If you’re in the final year of your degree, there are likely many things on your mind. And most of it probably has to do with your studies and how you’re going to manage all your assignments, tests and exams to make sure you graduate. There’s also a strong chance that you’re about to start stressing about life after university or college, if you haven’t begun to already, that is. The thing is that when you start to stress about something like life after studies, which you have no experience or real understanding of yet, it’s hard to know what to focus on.
So, to help you out during this time, here are three decisions you should make before you graduate. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you feel far calmer when you walk out of your last exam.
Whether you’re going to start your career straight away
So, you’ve spent the past few years studying towards a degree and you’re about to get what you came for. What’s next? Do you have a career in mind that you can’t wait to start? Some people choose what to study based on the career they want and others choose what to study based on subjects they enjoy learning about. Both of those are good reasons for tertiary education. But now is the time to think about if you still want the career you wanted in the first year or, if you had no plan to begin with, do you have an idea of what you want to do now?
It’s perfectly okay to change your mind about your career or not yet know what it is you want to do. Some people who’ve been working for years don’t even know what they actually want to do for a living. If you don’t know, don’t panic. You can always take some time to figure things out. It’s your life and you can decide if you want to take a year off to figure things out. Just remember that, unless you have substantial savings or your parents are willing to support you, you’re still going to have to work. You just don’t have to stress yourself out about finding the right job to start you on a specific career path.
How you plan to gain experience in your chosen field
If you know exactly what career you want to have, you need to start thinking about how you plan to go about getting the experience you need to where you want to be. Different fields and industries have different ways for fresh graduates to gain experience. However, they don’t always involve payment or enough payment to support you. You’ll probably have to live at home while you gain this experience or work two jobs to financially support yourself. But if this experience will eventually help you get the job of your dreams, it’s probably worth it.
Internships are the most popular in many industries and fields. It’s a way to get your foot in the door of a company, prove your worth and gain experience. It could land you a full-time position or, at least, a good reference to help you find full-time employment.
Another option is to volunteer in the field while you might not think that your specific career choice lends itself to volunteerism, you’d be surprised by what opportunities are available. For example, if you want to go into PR, you could work in the media department of a non-profit organisation. Or if you want to be an accountant, you could help out in the finance department. Volunteering doesn’t just mean manual labour and being out in the field.
If you want to study further and, if so, how you’re going to finance it
As your first degree comes to an end, you might start to think about studying further. This could be a good idea if your industry is more likely to hire people with post-graduate degrees. However, it is not a good idea to study further just because you don’t want to give up student life. So, you need to think seriously about whether you want to continue studying and if you’re doing it for the right reasons.
And if you do decide you’re going to study further, how are you going to finance it. If your parents only expected you to complete an undergraduate, they might not have saved for tertiary education. And if you received a scholarship for your undergraduate, they might not be prepared to cover a post-graduate degree as well. You need to find all this out before you start applying for the following year.
You always have the option of taking out a loan to pay for your next degree, but you need to be careful when doing so. Only approach reputable financial institutions and, as with any loan agreement letter between two parties, make sure you read the contract thoroughly before you sign on the dotted line. Even better, ask your parents or another person you trust to look at the documents.