Graduation season is nearly upon us! Soon, thousands of students up and down the country will be donning their caps and gowns after years of hard work. Finally graduating is certainly a cause for celebration. However, for many, the idea of officially finishing university can be a daunting thought.
Many fresh grads will have a place on an all-singing, all-dancing graduate scheme waiting for them. While others will be left wondering what to do after graduation. This is especially true for those who didn’t get on a grad scheme – not securing a place can feel like the end of the world. Spoiler alert: it’s not!
First things first… Why didn’t you get on a grad scheme?
I applied for graduate schemes, but I was unsuccessful
So, you filled in the applications, you may have even gone to interviews. Sadly, you didn’t get accepted onto any graduate schemes – should you throw in the towel? Nope!
Competition is fierce when it comes to securing a place on a graduate scheme, you could be up against hundreds of other candidates for one role. Just because your applications weren’t successful doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to offer an employer. So, don’t beat yourself up!
I didn’t apply – I’m not sure that a graduate scheme is right for me
You know what? That’s totally OK! Yes, lots of people you know may be readying themselves for life on a graduate scheme, but you have to do what’s right for you. If a graduate scheme doesn’t sound appealing to you, then it’s unlikely it will be the best option. Your career is a big deal! So, you need to do what you think is right when making decisions that could affect it.
Graduate schemes are tough. They’re highly structured, intense and competitive. It’s also relatively risky taking a place on such schemes as some don’t guarantee you a job at the end. For some, grad schemes are the perfect launch pad, whereas, for others, it might not be the perfect fit.
I missed the deadlines for applications
As the years pass by at university, your workload grows. It’s understandable if you kept putting off completing lengthy application forms because you had course deadlines to meet. Time flies when you’re studying hard (or something like that) – don’t beat yourself up if you thought you had more time.
Let us stress that there is more to graduate life than grad schemes. If you missed the cutoffs for submissions, it doesn’t mean that you’ve missed your chance to be a successful professional. There are plenty of other options out there.
If you really, really want to get on a graduate scheme, but think it’s too late, think again. Some big-name companies recruit for graduates all year round. Save the Student advises that companies with no grad scheme deadlines include:
· American Express
· BAE Systems
· British Airways
· Royal Mail
Plus many more! If you do your research, you’ll be able to find plenty of graduate schemes that you can still apply for.
Graduate schemes are NOT the only way to the top
When you’re in your final years at uni, you hear all about graduate schemes and how wonderful they are. Every graduate employer’s website will be full of success stories from former graduates. Every careers fair you will attend will try to pull you on to the grad scheme bandwagon.
It’s no surprise that many soon-to-be-graduates think that these programmes are the only way forward. In reality, there is a world of opportunity out there waiting for graduates. Many successful professionals have built impressive careers for themselves without the aid of a graduate scheme!
Don’t panic – you have plenty of time
University piles on the pressure, however there is also a lot of this after graduation. Many students and grads feel like they need to hit the ground running as a professional the second they finish their degree. Let us tell you a secret: success takes time, effort and patience. Overnight success exists but it is a rare phenomenon!
Remember that you’re just starting out on your career – cut yourself some slack. You’ll need time to find out who you are in the workplace and adjust to working life. You have a long journey ahead of you, so enjoy it!
It’s normal to not know what you want
When someone asked 8-year-old you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what answer did they get? An astronaut? A fairy princess? An elephant? Whatever your dream was, the point is that your ambitions can definitely change.
Let’s say you did a Maths degree with a view to becoming an Accountant. Now uni is over, and you’re a little older and wiser, you might not want to be an Accountant anymore. So many graduates finish their degrees with no intention of pursuing a career in a related field. If you’ve had a change of heart, you’re not on your own!
Perhaps you’ve never known what career path you want to follow. It’s a big decision to make! Even individuals who were certain of their professional goals can change their mind. A lot of workers end up accidentally falling into a job they love. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error.
What are your options?
Yes, graduate schemes can lead you to success, but so can other career choices. If you don’t know what to do after graduation, take a look at the following options:
· Completing further study
· Entry level jobs
· Graduate trainee jobs (Find out the difference between graduate schemes and graduate jobs here)
· An internship or other work experience
· Volunteering (either at home or abroad)
· Travel (We bet you didn’t know just how much travelling can boost your employability)
All of these options will help you to develop and grow your skill set. So, take off your graduation cap and get your thinking cap on, you’ve got decisions to make!