A list of 16 ideas for what to do after university

Updated 18 August 2023

Graduating from university is an exciting time for students. Whilst some graduates may become employed in an entry-level position, employment immediately after university isn't always a necessity. There are various options to pursue after graduating and understanding what they are can help you decide what to do after completing your studies. In this article, we present 16 ideas to consider pursuing after you have graduated from university.

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What to do after university?

If you have recently graduated with your bachelor's degree, you likely have been considering what to do after university. Recent university graduates typically have a wide range of choices when deciding the next steps after education. It is important to make an informed, well-thought-out decision, but it's also important to be mindful. Additionally, you may allow some time to congratulate and reward yourself on the achievement that is gaining a university degree.

Some graduates are usually interested in starting their careers and may apply for jobs, while others may want to secure an internship or spend some time volunteering. Some may want a change of scenery and decide to move abroad, while those abroad may choose to move back home. Either way, post-university life can be intimidating and it's important to choose the path that best aligns with your career aspirations, passions and future hopes.

Related: What is a bachelor's degree

16 ideas for what to do after graduation

Transitioning from the structured routine of education into the world of careers can be a daunting time for recent graduates. If you aren't yet sure what to do after university, there are plenty of options that you may consider. Here's a list you can review for things to do after university to help you find out an option that's best for you:

1. Spend some time back at home

Returning home after university is a great way to compose your thoughts, look for jobs and consider your options while in a comfortable, cost-effective setting. Use the time at home to network with local businesses in your field, connect with other graduates and update your CV. You may also use some time to rest and rejuvenate.

2. Study a postgraduate course

Finishing your bachelor's degree doesn't necessarily mean an end to your student career. Completing a relevant postgraduate course can further develop your level of specialist knowledge compared to an undergraduate, which may improve your employability and increase your earning potential. Completing a post-grad may also be an advisable pathway for those considering a career in academia, as many students study for their PhD after postgrad.

3. Become a research assistant

Many universities employ recent graduates to assist with academic or private research. The primary responsibility of a research assistant is to lend support to a research fellow or research team by collecting, analysing and interpreting data. Becoming a research assistant can be a great way to gain hands-on experience in your field or to prepare yourself for a career in applied research or academia. Contact your university or previous professors to express your interest and to see if they are any available positions for recent graduates.

4. Take a gap year

After several years devoted to study, taking some time to travel can allow for a well-deserved break. As enjoyable as a gap year maybe, it can also provide several benefits. Graduates who take gap years can use that time to improve their cultural awareness, develop transferable skills such as communication and adaptability, improve language skills or gain some work experience whilst abroad. Taking a gap year can also be a great way to make you stand out from other applicants on your CV.

5. Find an internship

An internship after university can be a great way to gain experience and 'test-run' your potential future career. Although internships often pay less than full-time positions, they may result in a better CV, recommendation letters, the potential of pay and even a full-time position after the internship. It may be a good idea to start applying for internships before graduation, as gaining a position can be competitive.

Related: Internship CV examples and how to craft your own

6. Turn your passion into a job

Use the skills you've developed during university, such as communication, work ethic, time management and creative thinking, to invest in your passion and turn it into a job. For example, if you love fitness, earn the right certifications and look for a gym that is hiring trainers. If your passion is art, consider selling your work through an online marketplace.

7. Gain volunteering experience

Volunteering is an excellent way to enhance your CV and set yourself apart from other graduates. Volunteer opportunities can also help in developing transferable skills like communication, empathy, time management and adaptability. It may also lead to a paid position with the organisation or a full-time job elsewhere through networking while volunteering. Additionally, it can be extremely rewarding to give back to your community.

Related: Volunteer skills: definitions and examples

8. Find seasonal work

If you're passionate about a seasonal activity like sailing or farming, consider establishing a schedule of working in seasonal jobs to fulfil your passion and gain diverse work experience. For example, if you enjoy skiing, you may want to work at a resort teaching or leading tours during peak months. Similarly, if you love nature, you may spend the summer months tree planting.

9. Teach English abroad

Many countries seek English native speakers to move abroad and teach both adults and children. Many of the companies that hire teachers don't require a degree in education or even experience in teaching. It can still be a competitive job market, so a degree in English, modern languages, linguistics or education may improve your chances of securing a teaching job. Each country has different entry requirements for its teachers, so perform in-depth research to determine what is necessary for applying.

Related: Should you hire a career coach? (Including pros and cons)

10. Work for your university

Many universities hire past students to join administrative departments such as admissions, development and academic advising. If you loved studying at your university and are passionate about higher education, consider networking while studying or reach out to the administrative team to see if there are open positions for graduates. You can also ask your professors to see if they need an assistant.

11. Complete an apprenticeship

Although people tend to associate apprenticeships with vocational jobs, many industries employ apprentices. Different to an internship, an apprenticeship programme may entail greater responsibilities and real-world problems to solve. Apprentices work under the direction of a senior colleague who helps guide them to gain the necessary skills to master the job.

Related: Internships vs. apprenticeships: similarities and differences

12. Start your own business

If you've got passion and a business idea, this can be a great time to start your own business. Although it won't be easy, a detailed plan, a well-built website and an excellent work ethic could set you on the path to entrepreneurship. There are many online resources for those looking to pursue entrepreneurship, such as this government website, which offers advice on writing a business plan and how to grow your business.

Related: How to become an entrepreneur

13. Move to a new place

Recent university graduates are well-situated to move to a new place after university. Many companies expect applicants to move away for a job and may pay relocation costs. Moving to a different place may also provide a needed change of scenery or more job opportunities if you move to a bigger city.

14. Pursue a part-time job you're passionate about

If you're not ready to enter into 9-5 work, you may want to take some time after university to pursue a job in an area that you're passionate about. Along with earning some money, you can enter a field that you have an interest in, such as working at a bookshop, yoga studio or flower shop. This may also develop into more permanent opportunities.

15. Become a nanny

Babysitting is an excellent opportunity for those who enjoy working with children. You can pursue a part-time position or a more full-time role such as an au pair, where you often live with the family free of charge and get paid for your childcare duties. Au-pairing may also open up opportunities to live abroad.

16. Find a graduate job

For many graduates, the best option after university may be pursuing an entry-level job to gain skills and experience. Try to search for companies that offer career progression so that can get the opportunity to advance to a permanent role once you've completed the placement role. Even if the job doesn't turn into a permanent role or if you decide that you're not suited to the company, it can still help in building your CV and gaining experience.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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