How to nail your post-graduation game plan

We're not saying we've got all the answers, but here's a start
You’re so close to throwing that graduation cap in the air. Not sold on your next move? We’ve listed a few options you might consider if you’re not sure what road to take after Eastern Avenue.

1. Enter the corporate world

The first job you take in your field upon completing your degree can be your entry point into a specific industry and will typically be via a graduate program or an entry-level role. Compared to an entry-level role, graduate programs normally involve structured rotations, professional support and development opportunities. Be mindful that securing these roles can be quite competitive, and recruitment for grad programs can start more than 12 months in advance, so start looking early.

A smart way to spend your penultimate and final year of uni is by seeking internships and work placements. Not only can these strengthen your application for grad programs when the occasion arises, but are a good way to complement your degree and try a career on for size. Although a full-time job isn’t always guaranteed at the end of an internship, building your professional skills and network are. The added bonus is that if a job does happen to open up, you’ve got a good chance of being the preferred candidate. So make the most of it and show your prospective employer what you have to offer.

Be sure to speak with the Careers Centre for more info and advice, and keep an eye on Sydney CareerHub for graduate jobs as well as careers fairs and employer information sessions on campus.

2. Lift the game of your undergraduate qualification

Enhancing what you’ve learned with work experience (see above) or further learning is a sure way to broaden your knowledge, sharpen your expertise, and give you a competitive edge as a result. Not only that, further learning through postgrad study may increase your potential earnings. The QILT Graduate Outcomes National Report for 2018 showed that further study generally leads to improvemed employment outcomes - with the median salary of postgraduate coursework and research graduates employed full-time at least 35% higher than their undergraduate counterparts. 

It’s not for everyone, but a postgraduate qualification might be an option if something has sparked your interest in the past three or so years of study, or if you want to take a step in a more specific or specialised area. And there are plenty of options.

If you’re not ready to commit to a master’s, you might consider an embedded graduate certificate or diploma. With a minimum of six month’s study (inclusive of core units), these options give you more flexibility over your level of commitment – choose to stop there or potentially progress to a diploma and/or master’s degree. 

If pursuing your passion into the world of research is more up your alley, an honours degree is the most common introduction to further academic research and typically the first step to a PhD or a career in academia.

Need more direction? Learn how to select the right postgraduate degree to meet your career objectives at one of our postgraduate events held throughout the year.

3. Switch direction altogether

So you may not have been sure at the time of locking in your UAC preferences that science teaching, nursing or project management was something you wanted to commit to, but by now you’ve learned a bit about yourself and think it might be your gig. Or, perhaps that law degree was out of reach and now you want to pursue your true calling and become the next Harvey Specter.  

You’re not alone – it’s not unusual for graduates transitioning from undergraduate study to opt for a different area altogether with postgraduate study. In fact, it means you’ll have a broader perspective to bring to the table. Not only does a bachelor’s degree mean you have transferable skills (and not to mention, uni studying hacks down pat), but it’s also a ticket to postgraduate study, and potentially in a completely new field. The best part is you don’t have to start from scratch as an undergrad. For example, a postgraduate nursing or teaching qualification is only two years full-time at postgraduate level.

With over 400 courses across nine areas of interest, a postgrad degree might be the perfect way to carve out a niche in your career or embark on a whole new path altogether. Take advantage of still being on campus with postgraduate events to get information, one-on-one advice and suss out your options.

4. Start a side hustle

Every success story starts somewhere and for 18-year-old Nick Molnar that was selling jewellery on eBay from his bedroom. Fast forward six years to 2014, and this natural-born entrepreneur and Sydney alumnus has co-founded Afterpay, a breakthrough business that’s changing how we shop.

He’s not the only one of our alum thriving as an entrepreneur. The bottom line here is - if you want to land your dream job, don’t rule out creating it.

The beauty of being your own boss? You have the freedom to decide the scale of your own vision. Deep dive into that dream of a side hustle, even if it is on the side for now, and do something bold and forward-thinking. You’ll be gaining experience and building entrepreneurial skills valued by industry, proving to future employees you’re prepared to work hard and can multitask like a boss (literally). Let’s not forget how independent and resilient the whole experience will make you.

We provide a number of programs and start-up accelerators to both current students and alumni looking for additional support and expert guidance in areas like marketing, finance and start-up law. Go on, scratch that itch.

5. Take a breather

Hey, doing a degree is a big commitment and not having a timetable to dictate your day-to-day is going to take some getting used to. So if you’re unsure of what’s next and are feeling the pressure to find a ‘real-job’, taking some time to figure out what you want to do is a good investment. Pick up those extra-curricular activities that have taken the back burner during exams, some more shifts at your part-time job to keep the income flowing in, or your passport to spend some time abroad and explore a new culture. There may even be some volunteer or employment opportunities overseas that could open your mind up to more options, and not to mention help you put forward a richer resume to future employers who would value international experience.

The first move after you graduate doesn’t have to mean long-term. It makes more sense to figure out what you’re interested in doing and try things out than to commit yourself to something because you feel you have to or be paralysed by indecision.

Above all, don’t doubt yourself, and if in doubt remember, there are people around who’ve got your back – there are so many resources, support and events on campus throughout the year like those we’ve mentioned above to help you figure this out. Make the most of it and enjoy the ride. You’ve got this. 

Last updated: 15 January 2020

13 April 2018

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