20/20 – Day 15: 20 considerations for the future before you leave university

It’s impossible to plan the future perfectly.  No matter. The more you do to provide for your future, the greater scope you’ll have with each new day.

Whether you’re still in your first year or you’re soon to graduate, start thinking about a life after your degree.  Nobody knows where you’re headed, no even yourself, but there’s plenty you can do to help the process.  Get the dice working in your favour.

  1. Why did you choose to study your subject? If you were asked this question, would you have a reasonable answer ready?
  2. Is your degree relevant to the field you want to go into? If not, pay attention to what you can bring to a job or career and what experience you have gained from your study.  Many core qualities and skills can be developed from a university education, so be prepared to explain and sell yourself over these transferable skills, no matter what your degree is.
  3. Work experience. Whether paid, voluntary or otherwise, any stints working are good to show off. Not so much a paper round when you were younger, but anything more substantial than that could play a part in strengthening your case.  Bar work, SU work, shop work, office work, placements, charity work, student work…jobs may not be directly relevant to those you apply for in the future, but many of the roles will have given you transferable skills.
  4. Societies/activities to mention, or join.  Playing a role within a club or society brings many transferable skills.  I don’t advise joining a vast number of clubs and societies for the sake of it.  Join one or two societies that you have most interest in so you develop contacts, experience, confidence, and much more.
  5. Professional associations.  Most associations have cheap membership options for students.  This is a great opportunity to find valuable information and join with people who already work in the areas of work you’re interested in.
  6. Create a great CV.  Don’t rush a document off a couple days before you need one, spend some quality time crafting something good now.  Check my series of posts on Employment Nirvanafor more information.

    You can't control the future, but it still depends on your help.

    You can’t control the future, but it does need your help.

  7. Tweak your CV and update it if you already have one.  Perhaps you made a pretty good CV in the past.  If so, keep going!  Make sure it’s kept relevant to your needs, as well as adding your experience and achievements as you go along.  Don’t leave it to chance.
  8. Look at jobs currently on offer for ideas. You may not be applying right now, but do you know what type of jobs are available?  If you don’t take a look, you won’t know how feasible your plans really are.
  9. Look at jobs currently on offer to see what they’re looking for.  Another benefit of browsing jobs you’re not about to apply for is so that you know what skills and qualities employers are looking for.  If you see a common trait that you haven’t yet mastered or experienced yet, you’ve got time to bring things up to speed.
  10. Check graduate schemes as soon as you can.  There’s no point in waiting.  The jobs won’t wait…
  11. If you know what your dream job/career is, pursue it NOW! Don’t wait, get involved.  Just because you’re not getting paid to learn about your chosen line of work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother putting the effort in.  The moment you start chasing for leads and opportunities is the moment you step closer to what you want.
  12. Go to careers office and use them.
  13. Check careers & graduate sites for information, help and leads.
  14. Consider transferable skills in everything you do.  A small feat for you may be just what an employer wants.  Don’t overlook your talents!
  15. Clean up your online profiles.  And if you don’t want to remove the gory details, at least protect yourself by updating your privacy settings so you’re…well, private.
  16. Clean up your offline profiles. You don’t live in an online-only world, unless you believe we’re all in the Matrix or something.  Real-world issues need just as much consideration as those online.
  17. What do you *want* to do when it’s all over? Ask yourself this question and give a genuine answer.  Don’t kid yourself with ideas of what you’ll probably end up doing and what would roughly satisfy you.  Be bold by deciding what you’d choose if you had every option freely available to you.
  18. How will you achieve this? You’ve been bold in your answer to the above question.  Now have a plan to make this happen, no matter how outlandish it seems.
  19. Personality. What would you change and what would you keep the same?
  20. What do you seek beyond career, money and fame? We all crave different things in life.  Those cravings change as we change.  Before you graduate, what matters to you beyond money and the usual ‘big dreams’?
Title image: original by tiffa130 (cc)  /  Bottom image: quinn.anya (cc)

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