The final deadlines for my final year are approaching – Literally the beginning of May or late April (arghhh that’s next month!) depending on how you see it. And so, it’s soon time to leave the warmth of academia and go into the real world. Although the UK employment rate has improved significantly over the last two years, it’s still worth thinking about the multiple avenues that can lead to paid work…
I started volunteering a year and a half ago, and it’s really given me an insight into the world of work and, surprisingly, office politics to prepare me for paid work. It resulted in an employment reference which lead to me getting an offer for postgraduate study, so volunteering can be very useful for determining the future. I understand it can be more preferable to do paid work, but if you still require additional skills in order to enter the workforce, then volunteering may offer them.
Postgraduate education is changing somewhat in terms of the money that PG students can get, such as bursaries (say for Social Work and certain Education courses) and maintenance loans being available. For my study, I can get a maintenance loan to add to the money I’ve saved up over the years to pay for living costs. It’s worth checking with the University provider to see if you can afford to continue education, and if you can, an additional qualification could get you closer to the job you want. Again, like when choosing an undergraduate degree, only do a postgraduate degree if it’s the only thing standing between you and your ideal job.
Employment / Self Employment
Finally, if you have all the skills and experience to gain paid work, go for it. With University out of the way, you can pursue an internship or a position in a company, or set up your own business like some graduates (I know) do. It may be that you begin part time and work your way up to full time depending on your circumstances. Finding paid work is tough, I’m not going to lie, but succeeding means becoming financially independent so there’s the light at the end of that tunnel.
As for me, I’m relieved that University is finally finishing and I can look forward to the future, even if the future means facing the many challenges and life lessons still ahead.