Dissertation? Submitted. Bedroom? Packed up. University? Complete. Now it is time for your next step, but what that may be is entirely up to you.

Graduating from university signifies your very own personal reinvigoration; it is about time to rid yourself from the three-year-accumulation of alcohol in your bloodstream. You should probably try to accustom your brain, eyes, and willpower to work cohesively before noon and no, wearing fancy dress on a night out is not socially acceptable outside of October 31st.

Many students are apprehensive in the wake of their graduation. The prospect of leaving education ‘for good’ and ‘taking a step into the big wide world’ is a common misconception held by many prospective graduates. The truth is that finishing university does not equate to starting a full-time work position immediately, although it can for many people, there are an array of opportunities and selective paths that can be taken after university to continue your education or enhance your progression into your desired career.

Deciding on your next path after graduation can be daunting, confusing, and sometimes disheartening for those who do not research into the opportunities available to them. This article will explain a selection of post-graduate pathways available, including graduate schemes, jobs, post-graduate study and PGCE, volunteering and travelling.

Graduate Schemes

graduate schemes

Graduate schemes offer structured training within your chosen career field; they allow improvement of hands-on experience and help to shape important workplace competencies.

The programmes typically last for one to two years and are most freely available to those in investment banking, law firms, oil and energy companies and retail companies (these sectors have the largest quantity of graduate schemes). Graduate schemes are highly competitive and generally require students to achieve a 2:1 or higher at graduation.

It is not uncommon to secure a full-time position with a company you worked for during a graduate scheme however it isn’t guaranteed so best to leave the best impression you can – you are an adult now!

Jobs

jobs after graduation

Graduating from university signifies a new step, but that step does not have to be anything out of the ordinary. Searching for a full-time job is a great alternative to post-graduate teaching, particularly if you fancy saving for a year of travel or need time to decide what your end goal may be.

Your university career service can usually advise their alumni for several years after graduation, and they provide a useful service in searching for a job. Despite most graduate schemes requiring a 2:1 after graduation, work organisation predominantly now accept 2:2 grades.

Masters

masters after graduation

A Masters degree enables a graduate to study a specific subject in greater detail, usually taking one to two years full-time. This is an excellent option for graduates wanting to boost their employability within a niche field as it can increase your level of qualification in that area.

Deciding to pursue a Masters degree requires heavy consideration into factors such as the costing (according to Prospects UK, typically a master’s degree costs £11,000) and the intense period of study required for the degree. Finding a part-time job whilst studying for your Masters degree is a popular and beneficial method to fund living costs as Masters degree are typically more expensive per year than undergraduate degrees, and loans and funding are harder for post-grad students to access.

Post-Graduate

postgraduate after graduation

Post-Graduate diplomas (PGDip) and certificates (PGCert) are an attractive alternative to a full Masters degree due to their omission of the dissertation – if you don’t want to be slaving away over 10,000 words then this one is for you! A PGDip is the equivalent of two thirds of a masters and usually takes two terms to complete, whilst a PGCert is equivalent of one third of a Masters degree and can take just one term to complete.

To be accepted you’ll need to be awarded a 2:1 or 2:2 in a relevant subject at undergraduate level. Specific fields which use these methods of accreditation include the Legal Practice Course for prospective solicitors, the PGDip for social workers and the PGCE for aspiring teachers.

As post-graduate diplomas and certificates are shorter than a Masters, they are generally cheaper than them too. You could pay anywhere from approximately £3000 to £9000 for the course, depending on the specific university and course type you are attending.

PGCE

PGCE after graduation
Source: University College Birmingham

Similar to a PGDip and PGCert, the PGCE is a Masters equivalent specifically for prospective teachers. Known as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education, the certification can be extremely competitive to secure a place onto and takes one academic year full-time, and two years part time.

Whilst studying for a PGCE, you will complete regular and long-term placements in a school whilst also learning about theory behind teaching and learning. The PGCE is not essential to gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), as this can be completed on shorter and cheaper training courses, but the PGCE incorporates an increased exploration into academic knowledge and enables you to teach internationally.

There are further entry requirements for the PGCE including a DBS check, experience of working with children in mainstream UK schools and medical fitness. Costing of a PGCE is an important consideration as it can cost £9,250 for the course on-top of living and travel costs to your placements and work experience.

Volunteering

Volunteering after university

When you graduate from university, you don’t have to go into paid work straight away… sounds ideal, right? Volunteering is an excellent means of gaining work experience and life experience; it could even boost your CV and help you land your dream job!

Volunteering work is vast and readily available; you can work in schools, community centres, hospitals or for non-profit organisations such as British Red Cross or Cancer Research UK. It is recommended that you research before applying to volunteer as some organisations require specialist knowledge or are sensitive and confidential in their nature. It is also beneficial to decide what type of volunteering would aid your chosen career path, as it is unpaid work you want to get something useful out of it!

Volunteering abroad is another alternative (and exciting) option. There are a variety of options such as conservation, childcare and community work and working alongside animals and in schools.

Travel

Travelling after graduation
Source: Cosmopolitan

Taking a year out (or years) to go abroad can be educational, inspiring and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are many ways to travel; you could move out to a hotter climate for several months and experience a singular culture, or you could choose a continent and hop from country to country over a longer period.

Typical places to travel globally include South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. You can travel freely each day, or you can undergo experiences such as volunteering with animals. Work can also be picked up during your travels; many countries offer opportunities of fruit-picking and farm work in return for payment (and in some cases such as Australia, an increase of your visa).

An important consideration to have about travelling is your finances; plane tickets and pre-organised travel programmes can cost up to £2000 – £5000. It is important to save up prior to travelling, and keep finding opportunities to work whilst you travel.