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Home / Student Profile / Advice for New College Graduates – What’s Next?

Advice for New College Graduates – What’s Next?

Becoming a new graduate is, understandably, a very scary thing! For a lot of people, it will be your first time not being in any kind of formal education. Having to face the big, bad world for once and for all is incredibly daunting for most but it doesn’t have to be all bad! There are so many options out there for you once you’ve left college.

Whether you’re planning to keep on truckin’ and head straight back into education to further your studies or you have decided to take a year out to breathe before getting fully into the swing of things, we have compiled a few important tips. So, before you become a fully-fledged adult – yes, it’s finally time – we hope that this will make the experience a little less terrifying!

Of course, these tips can be applied to any level of graduate but we’re guessing that if you have a PhD, you’re already pretty established in what’s next for your life. This article is dedicated to the poor, overwhelmed undergraduate. We feel your pain.

Expect to feel a little lost.
Once you first graduate, you’ll probably be hit with an overwhelming sense of ‘What now!?’ Don’t worry, that’s completely normal. It might seem like everyone around you is swimming along just fine while you feel like you’re drowning. But trust us, they’re feeling just as anxious as you are! The most important thing to remember is that, if you’re dedicated, this feeling won’t last forever. Chances are you’ll find your niche sooner or later. However, if you’re still in college and just can’t stand the idea of being in limbo once you leave, do your research now. Research the type of thing you’d love to do after college and take the steps you need to get there. For example, if it’s you’re dream to travel for a year once you graduate, do your research and look up costs and start saving.

Don’t listen to others – for the most part.
While you will likely get helpful advice from people who have been in your position, you will equally get a lot of unhelpful advice. Many people will tell you about the worth of your degree and what you should be doing instead but it’s important to weed out the good advice from the bad and not pay attention to anything else. After all, the only person who knows what’s best for you is you so go with your gut and you’ll be absolutely fine! Keep in mind that there are so many avenues to get to where you want to be. Again, the key is to be determined. If studying for the next couple of years towards a post-grad or masters doesn’t appeal to you, do your research. For a lot of jobs, you can start from the bottom and work your way up through internships and apprenticeships. So, don’t listen to that ‘helpful’ advice that your Arts degree isn’t going to get you anywhere.

If your dream is to write for a fashion magazine, keep your eyes peeled for internships and get your foot in the door. No matter what degree you’re currently in, nobody can write you off as having an unsuccessful future, you can get there if you’re dedicated.

Don’t panic if you decide to change your path.
You might be petrified at the fact that the subject you’ve studied for four years no longer appeals to you. This is a perfect time to take a step back and breathe. Make sure to look at things from a positive outlook. At least you have realised that the path you’re on is no longer for you now rather than after having put down ten years in a field that you aren’t at all passionate about! Give yourself a break and don’t beat yourself up about it. Travel, take a year out to work and save money, do a night course or take up a new hobby. Whatever you do, don’t panic. You’ll find your way eventually, it just takes some people a little bit longer to get there. Don’t think of your studies so far as a waste, think of them as a learning experience and focus on the things you can take away from it.

Travel, travel, travel.
If you’ve just graduated college and don’t already have a job, don’t have children and are healthy, you’ll never have a better opportunity to go out and see the world as you do now. Think about it, you have your whole life to work and make money but there is no better time than now to make experiences and memories. It’s a total cliché but nobody has ever looked back at their life on their deathbed and though ‘I wish I made more money and worked more’. Whether you go by yourself or with friends, the memories you make at this point in your life will last you a lifetime and they’ll be the stories you tell your children in years to come.

As mentioned above, if you’re unsure where to go next in your life or career, travelling is one of the best ways to give yourself time to ‘find yourself’ as cheesy as that may sound!

Take steps in furthering your career.
Many fields of study such as technology are in high demand and so you may find that you are lucky enough to land a graduate-level job that will help you move up in your career. However, many industries require you to be highly qualified. The earlier you do your research for further qualifications, the better, however – there are plenty of sites online that offer advice and support for those wanting to return to education. One fantastic website is You might remember Qualifax from your Leaving Cert days but there is a great ‘adult learning’ section with a full list of Postgraduate and Masters courses available in Ireland. If you’re still in college and are thinking about further education once you graduate, speaking to a career guidance counsellor can be a great way to explore options and figure out what you will need to carry on with your studies.

Article by: Ali Molloy

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