Graduation was the climax of the last few years of your life and now it may feel like you’re in a headlong rush into employment. Taking some time out after your studies can be a great opportunity to have fun, build skills, reflect on your university experience and prepare yourself for your next steps. The time you spend doesn’t have to be a year-long, it could be as little as a few weeks – enough time to pause, find inspiration and gain skills.
This has probably been the busiest year of your degree. Library, revision, lectures, seminars, exams, dissertation and in the background, the nagging feeling that you should really have a plan for what happens next when you finish University. It’s OK to pause, in fact it’s good to pause. If you’re not sure what you want to do next then taking some time out will allow you to try different things whether that be volunteering or work experience related to a career area you’re interested in, or travel and work overseas. All experiences will teach you something, it may be that you definitely don’t want to work in a certain career sector but this is still useful! You don’t need to have all the answers right now, but by allowing yourself some headspace, you’ll be able to stop, gain some perspective and figure out what is important to you.
If you’re taking time out, use it wisely and have a plan. When it comes to securing a longer term job, employers will want to know how you spent your time out and what you gained from it. You may be considering travelling and experiencing different cultures or you may decide to stay closer to home and and use work experience or volunteering to get an insight into different career sectors or you could combine the two. The point is through your experiences, you will learn more about yourself. You can only know what you do or don’t like, by trying things.
You might think that unless you’re in a graduate level job, you’re not gaining useful skills but the good news is many skills can be transferable. On our website we have a list of skills that employers look for when recruiting. Whatever you do during your time out, you’ll likely be adding to your skillset and fulfilling some of the employer wish list, for example, if you plan to travel, learning a language is a great skill to have and the communication and intercultural skills you’ll develop will be a great addition to your CV, not to mention the self management and planning skills you’ll also acquire. See your gap period as an opportunity to gain experience before entering permanent employment. Short term work can help you identify what really interests you and where your career motivation lies, and it doesn’t have to be ‘casual’ work. Check out the graduate-level internships on Graduate Talent Pool for quality work experience.
Once you’re ready to take the next steps – whether it’s a graduate job or further study – Careers and Placements is still here to help. As a starting point, our web resources have plenty of info and advice about job hunting, further study, making applications and going for interview.
Check our web page – Taking time out
Read our information sheet – Taking time out
Graduate internships – Graduate Talent Pool
Look at our information sheet on Working outside the UK, this has links to lots of vacancy sources plus volunteer overseas programmes
GoinGlobal is available on our website and includes country profiles, job search resources and cultural information for 41 countries
We’re still available for you. Check out how to set up your lifelong careers service