It is the question every student asks (and should ask) himself when he reaped the benefits of his hard work and the degree is ready for framing. “What is next, where do I go from here?” Well, you are not alone on this. University life has been your routine for these past years and your single, most important goal has been achieved. Do what you should always do when you find yourself sailing in unchartered waters. Ask and map!
Who are you supposed to ask? First of all, yourself! And you should answer your questions in brutal honesty. ‘Am I ready to step into a professional environment’, ‘is there something in my field in which I would like to get some more expertise’, ‘do I want to take a different route on something I strongly feel I am interested in’? When all of these questions are answered, the next step is to draw a plan. A plan that can give you some perspectives on your next life challenge.
Play in a professional league
If you are ready to take on the world then your ‘weapon’ of choice should be your resume! Create one that will make you look good. You will most probably lack experience but don’t let that be a setback. Make sure your CV demonstrates your passion, your motivation, your potential, and your current know-how. Achieve that by assembling a profile of yourself and make sure you include a short brief of what your education has offered you. Focusing more on technical and professional skills are also recommended, everyone loves swimming, but would you make a professional decision based on that? Finally, make it short and simple. If you want to shine through a pile of 100 CVs, then you should make sure it’s worth the initial attention.
When all of the above boxes are ticked, start laying the groundwork and specify the doors you want to knock. Remember, this is your life we’re talking about and you should be somewhere you feel you belong. And more often than not, you already know where that is. Once you create a shortlist of companies you want to work for or jobs you’re interested in applying for, creating a generic cover letter that’s easy to customize on occasion would be considered a plus.
Make it on my own.
It’s a big step and you should have a clear answer on not just wanting to do it but also on what you want to do and on how you plan on doing it. An idea without purpose is an idea that no investor in the world would invest it. If you’re determined to go down that road, don’t hesitate to ask the assistance and advice of professionals and prepare to answer a lot of questions, convincingly. Is there a risk to it? Yes. Are you OK with that? Well, just go back to step one and ask yourself again.
There are still so much to learn.
If the answer to your question is ‘I want to gain expertise,’ or ‘I would really like to try something new’ then you should step back into university mode! You already know by now that learning is a never-ending process and if you don’t, life would make that point very clear. And you do not want to end up playing catch up. Nevertheless, there are many professional fields that are extremely broad and becoming more and more popular. Feeling uncertain and wanting to strengthen your position or even changing it before thinking ‘business’ is more than fine, it’s actually the healthy and the wise thing to do. So let nothing get in your new academically challenging way!
I need my space.
When we don’t have an answer to our questions, that qualifies as an answer by itself! Maybe not the one you had in mind, but surely a valid one. The reality of it all is that you are not ready or sure of what you really want. If you find yourself struggling, don’t rush yourself into something you might regret. Step away from it all, take a gap year, clear your mind, travel, try something new. When we explore things, we learn more about ourselves. This may give you an idea of what do you want to do next.