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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Options after graduation

Options for graduates include finding a job or placement, further study at postgraduate level, setting up a business, taking a gap year or volunteering. Get planning as soon as possible – and take advantage of the advice available.

Preparing for life after graduation

Son or daughter graduated this year?

Help them explore their options - and get motivated

As you approach the end of your time in higher education, it’s natural to focus more on what comes next. But there’s likely to be a lot going on in your final year: lectures, essays and, of course, exams. So if you want to prepare for life as a graduate while keeping up with your studies, it pays to get organised – and to get the right advice.

Weighing up your options: work and postgraduate study

Not sure about your first step as a graduate? Talking through your options can help you come up with ideas.

Even if you’ve decided what you want to do, getting advice is still worthwhile. For example – if you’re looking to get a particular job, will a postgraduate qualification improve your chances? Or would it be better to get some work experience?

Help is available through your university or college careers service. Subject staff can also advise on options for further study, or provide tips on where to look for careers ‘leads’.

Career options and finding a job

It’s best to register with the careers service as soon as possible - especially if you’re looking to go straight into a job after graduation.

As well as taking the pressure off towards the end of your final year, getting started before the rush will help you avoid missing application deadlines. You’ll also benefit from early advice on planning your job search and making effective applications.

You can also get help and advice on job hunting from Jobcentre Plus.

See ‘Graduate careers’ for more on help with career planning, finding a job and work experience opportunities – such as graduate internships.

Trying out careers while you’re still at university or college

If you’re curious about what it might be like to work in a particular career, there may be opportunities to find out during your time at university or college. Student societies, newspapers, radio stations, sports teams and taster courses can also help build the kind of skills and experience employers look for.

Postgraduate study

If you’re considering further study, start thinking about your options as early as possible – ideally, at least 18 months before you’d be looking to start your postgraduate course.

Starting a business

Many universities offer support to students and graduates who want to start their own business. This may mean giving you the option to develop entrepreneurial skills as part of your course, or running extra-curricular advice sessions on starting a business. Some universities also provide an ‘incubator’ service to help graduates get their business off the ground. Ask your tutor or lecturer for details.

Another source of help and advice is the FlyingStart service, run by the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship.

Visit the FlyingStart website to:

  • use online resources, including a database of grants and funding
  • network with other graduate entrepreneurs
  • find out about free, one-day events to help you get started
  • get details on longer-term mentoring and training programmes

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a three-way project between a graduate, an organisation (such as a business, charity or public sector body) and a university or research organisation.

As a graduate on a KTP you’ll be recruited to manage a strategic project, normally lasting one to three years. Many graduates are offered a job by their KTP organisation when they complete the project.

Short KTPs

You can also apply to do shorter KTPs, lasting 10-40 weeks. These placements are mainly available in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

To find out more about KTPs and how to apply, visit the ktponline website.


Find a volunteering opportunity

Develop new skills, gain experience, enhance your CV

Volunteering after you graduate can be a great way to develop valuable skills and experience. Demonstrating these skills to potential employers can give you a competitive edge when it comes building your career.

There are thousands of volunteering opportunities available, so you’re bound to find one that interests you. You could choose to volunteer part-time for a few days, or apply for a full-time volunteering placement in the UK or overseas.

Taking a gap year

Whether you go abroad or stay in the UK, a gap year can be a good opportunity to broaden your horizons. It can also be another way of developing skills and experience to enhance your employability.

If you’re after a particular gap year placement – especially one of the more popular ones – it’s important to check the deadlines and make your arrangements well in advance.

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