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Deciding the right career choice after education

Students can make the transition between university and their professional life much smoother with a little planning

Posted by Joe Lawson-West | December 13, 2017 | School life

Graduation, for many students, is the final milestone before heading into adulthood. Graduation heralds in financial independence for many. While this freedom is so liberating, students on the verge of graduation face the sobering reality of looking for a profession after school. However, students can make the transition between university and their professional life much smoother with a little planning. 

Plan and prepare before walking the stage

 Research, research, research both the occupation and your interests. Work with a career counsellor to figure out an appropriate career path. Depending on the university, the counsellor will require that the student take an inventory of their interest, personality type, values, and abilities. These inventories can help the student narrow down specific areas of interests and career fields to pursue.

 Make a list of these occupations. Afterwards, students can simply research each occupation in search of one that they can realistically enjoy. Important considerations that students might make include whether the occupation requires an advanced degree, whether there is opportunity for career advancement, whether the salary allows for a living wage, and opportunities for employment in the field. Once the research has been done, make a shortlist and list the positive and negatives of each occupation before deciding on a profession. Ultimately, the decision will be based on factors that are desirable to the prospective graduate, including pay, location and education level, and more importantly, this preparation sets the tone for their prospective professional life.

Work part-time. Working while in school can be tough, especially for those enrolled in challenging programs, but work experience provides the opportunity to determine whether this is an area to pursue. Also, students should use those summer holidays to work in fields that might be interesting, so when deciding on a career, they have professional insight. Students should also participate in internship programs advertised in their academic departments. Through interning, students get a glimpse at work in that particular field.

 Talk to other professionals. One of the best ways to find out about a career is to talk candidly with other professionals in the field. These veterans can also serve as mentors, which are even greater resources, but they also help graduates navigate potential career problems not addressed in university classes. 

Decide employment designation

 Prospective graduates have so many options in today’s professional environment. Even better for today’s student is the ability to choose their employment designation. The three most common designations are the employee, the worker, and the self-employed, and within each designation, there are certain rights and responsibilities.

 ·         Employee: This employee designation is probably the most common of the three. As an employee, the person works for another individual or organisation. Employees are afforded sick leave and holiday leave, protection against unfair dismissal, and statutory redundancy pay, in addition to other benefits. However, the employee’s time is not their own. Depending on the profession, employees might work outside the traditional business day, which includes nights, evenings and weekends.

 ·         Worker: These workers are employed for a specific amount of time or on contract. Often referred to as temps, these workers are also covered. They are covered by a national minimum wage, they have the right to join a union, and they get paid holidays, in addition to having protection against unlawful discrimination. Again, while there is a certain amount of freedom, these workers are not guaranteed permanent employment.

 ·         Self-employment: This option is probably more appropriate for those who crave professional autonomy and freedom. While it offers more flexibility in work schedule and salary, the self-employed do not have any of the protections of the other designations. Additionally, the self-employed are required to make contributions to the income tax base and National Insurance. More importantly, self-employed individuals are responsible for all bookkeeping, including providing documentation for expenses and earnings. For those who are not quite organised enough to get through the human resource and payroll paper maze related to taxes, in addition to other administrative duties, they can get help from an umbrella PAYE. An umbrella company helps the self-employed individual to make their income tax contributions, so at the end of the year, the professional only need file taxes. New graduates might find self-employment through an umbrella company attractive.

Searching for an appropriate profession after university is not an impossible feat. Today’s graduate fortunately has a plethora of options from which to choose. However, students upon graduation can find an appropriate field by considering their own needs and abilities. By preparing, students set the foundation for their future professional life. 

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