Is it vital to get a job straight from uni?

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University students at graduation ceremony

You may have heard today that Mary Curnock Cook, the outgoing head of UCAS, said that some parents and universities have become "too fixated" on using uni purely as a stepping stone to work.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, she said "I think obsession with graduate employment within six months is unhelpful". She also questioned the idea that university is essential to a successful career, saying "there's still this common trail of thought which is 'go to university - it's the golden thread to your career'".

Mary believes that students considering university should choose a subject which excites them rather than picking solely with their career in mind: "I think you get the best out of a university experience when you study something that sets your brain on fire... It's about broadening your horizons, it's too utilitarian to think you've got to go to university and then land a career straight after that".

Here at Success at School, we agree with Mary that following what excites you is the best way to succeed - whether that's through university or another route. And by planning ahead, you can avoid some of the stresses of finding a job:

  • If you're passionate about an academic subject, you can study it at university while preparing for your career at the same time. Use the summer vacation to get work experience through internships, or part-time or voluntary work. Exploring different options will help you get a sense of how you'd like to spend your career.
  • And if your subject is your passion, is there a way you can turn it into your career? You may be able to pursue a career in academia. You should also research possible career paths stemming from your subject, and what extra experience or qualifications you need beyond your degree.
  • Think about what you want to do with your life before deciding what to do after school or college. Is university best for you, or if you have specific career plans, could an apprenticeship or school leaver programme be a better option for you?
  • We agree with Mary - don't worry if you don't find your dream job as soon as you graduate, but do continue to enhance your CV, as employers love to see you've been building your skills. Consider temporary work through an agency, or voluntary or part-time work while you look for something more permanent. And you never know where these stop-gap solutions might lead.

Mary also says "Students may need to take some down-time after the stresses of finals and dissertations". If you feel you need some time out, a gap year could be a good option - either before or after uni.

You can use this time to think about what you want to do in the future, but you can also take this opportunity to gather skills and experience that will help your CV.

If you're at the beginning of your careers journey, make sure you have all the basic info for your CV. Register free on Success at School to start building your skills profile, recording your grades, and saving great school/college leaver opportunities.

Image credits

Lead image via Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 2.0


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