Who hasn’t been asked this question, whether first, second or third year, this seems to crop up in every conversation. It might be your New Year’s resolution to discover where you want to take your life. But should we be expected to know what we want to do?
Some of the lucky few know exactly what they want to do after university. But for most of us it’s the quick planning in the head, to calculate an answer that doesn’t sound too flimsy. Or perhaps you use the go-to answer that most of my friends do; ‘I’m thinking of doing a masters’, an expensive way of extending university life. I would love to do a masters that would expand my prospects, but the reality is I have no idea what I would do or how it would aid my unknown career path.
Isn’t University an extension of school life without the clear guidance? We are ‘independent adults’, expected to make these decisions ourselves. No word of a lie, it once took me half an hour to choose a chocolate bar for my mum, and in the end I bought both options just to ensure I wouldn’t get it wrong. But this is no decision between dairy milk and a galaxy. This is the future, and with four months until my dissertation is due, the reality of real adulthood is just around the corner.
Speaking from the limited experience I have had so far, work experience or internships have to be one of the best things you can do. Unlike job fairs, they give a real insight into what you would be doing. Although the graduate schemes provide the glossy, well worded descriptions allowing you to believe ‘brilliant, that’s right up my street’, the reality is that you won’t know until you are sitting at that desk, being given real work. However, I am well aware that internships and work experience do not always pay unlike graduate schemes, and when it comes to summer and you haven’t got two pennies to rub together, paid work in any industry (whether you want to be in it or not), is often the more viable option.
Before you make that leap, consider asking yourself some questions, what has interested you throughout your time at university, do you like working/mixing with people? Or would you rather work with numbers? Would you want to travel with work? Do you like lots of change? How important is it to you who you work, for rather than what you do? Even if you don’t know the answer to these questions, the job you end up in after university it isn’t the be all and end all. Without sounding deeply cliche, life is about taking risks so apply for an internship or scheme you think you might not get, because you just might!
Think about this; when you ask your parents or friends whether they enjoy their job or, if they had their time again what would they do, how many of them reply with ‘not really’ and ‘if I had my time again I would do something totally different, something I enjoy for a start!’. This leads me back to my original point, which is that the majority of us don’t know what we want to do and, let’s face it the ‘real’ adults asking you what you want to do after university, probably still don’t know what they want from life either.