finishing university

May 15, 2018, by Carla Froggatt

Okay, What’s Next? Preparing for Finishing University

By Chris Jones, Senior Careers Adviser

Are you coming towards the end of your degree?  Whether you are an undergraduate or a postgraduate, whether you are planning to continue in education, move into the world of work, or have other plans (or no plans yet!), one thing is certain – a change is coming.

Naturally, your focus at university tends to be on doing well in your degree, and making decisions and applications for whatever comes next. However, we often don’t spend much time thinking about how to prepare for change. But this can be an important part of helping you make a smooth transition to the next phase of your life.

For many, coming to the end of your degree and leaving university will represent the end of an education journey that you have been on literally for as long as you can remember, from nursery school onwards. You might relish the opportunity to move on or you might be viewing the transition with some trepidation. Both are perfectly acceptable ways to feel.

So, however you’re feeling, how can you make positive preparations for your next steps?

1. Be positive

It’s tempting to focus on the scary or negative aspects of change. The things you will miss, the things you don’t feel ready for, and the things you’re uncertain about. If this is the case, try a bit of ‘positive visualisation’ to help you focus on the things you are looking forward to and the things you are excited about.

Even if you haven’t sorted out your future plans, think about this as an exciting adventure full of possibilities! Facing the future with a positive mindset can help you feel more confident and can make it more likely you will be successful.

2. Reflect on how far you’ve come

This is a good time to take stock of your progress and achievements to give yourself a bit of a boost and a well-earned pat on the back! It’s also useful to reflect on the skills and confidence you’ve gained at university, so that you can articulate these to future employers.

Think about how you have changed since you started on your course. What new skills, experience and knowledge have you gained? What difficult situations have you overcome? You might be surprised at how much you’ve achieved already.

3. Know yourself

Everyone deals with change in different ways. Some will embrace it, while others will find it more daunting. How did you feel when you started your course? Did you have any difficulties making the transition, and if so how did you deal with these? What do you think might be the challenges moving on from Nottingham and what strategies could you put in place to make this easier?  You could try:

  • keeping in contact with your current group of friends to give you some continuity
  • being proactive about developing new networks and social groups
  • seeking advice and support from friends, family or colleagues
  • making sure relevant practical arrangements are in place, such as finding a lovely place to live

4. Get ready for the world of work

If you are planning to move into graduate employment following your course, make sure that you are able to hit the ground running by applying for our two-day LeadNow course in June. This course is designed to help you develop your leadership skills to motivate yourself and others effectively, and can be a great way to boost your confidence prior to starting in a new role. The application deadline is 18 May.

We’ve also written this, sharing our top tips on navigating your first week at work.

5. If your plans aren’t sorted out yet – don’t panic!

Although it can seem like everyone else knows what they are doing and has it all sorted, this simply isn’t the case. Many students will still be deciding on their next steps or searching for suitable opportunities.

Looking for suitable graduate roles? Check out Sarah’s blog post on invigorating your job search for some extra ideas. If you don’t really know what to do next, our friendly careers advisers are great at helping you generate ideas. We can help you think about your priorities, explore your options and develop a plan of action to help you move forward. Make an appointment.

6. Learn – change – repeat

Moving on from your course may seem like a big step, but it won’t be the first, last or only time that you make a change in your career. It’s also not the end of your learning experience!

As you progress through your career, you will be continuing to learn and develop. Your interests and life priorities will change, and the world of work will also change around you.

You need to be prepared to regularly review where you are and think about what your next steps will be. Change is a constant, but facing change with a positive mindset (see point one) can make all the difference to how you feel about and cope with this feature of your career.

Graduating this year? We’ve put together this entire page of resources for you. And don’t forget that we are here to offer you support, not only over the summer, but at anytime in the future. We can arrange face-to-face appointments if you are in Nottingham, or over phone, Skype or email if not.

Posted in Career adviceChoosing your careerFinal years