Finishing a Graduate Scheme? Here’s How to Decide your Next Steps
A couple of weeks ago I did an episode about How to Decide your career direction but I wanted to do one specifically for you if you’re coming up to the end of your graduate scheme, because you’re in a very specific situation. I’d definitely recommend going back and listening to episode 2 as it give a full structure for deciding your career path, which will give you a lot of clarity. I also think there’s a lot of specifics with your situation that I wanted to cover.
Up to this point you’ve been in a pretty structured process, you may have been doing a rotation around different areas so you’ve started to figure out what you like and dislike.
You might know right now that you want to leave the company you’re in, or you might want to stay where you are. Or it might be that you have no clue. There’s no right way to think or feel right now.
You’ve essentially been in a bubble of intense work and it’s not easy to figure out if you want to stay or leave a company or change industries even.
To be honest, it can be pretty scary thinking about moving jobs because there’s a lot of unknowns or you might have a lot of self-doubt or be a perfectionist.
But now you’re coming to the end you might be thinking “now what?”. Or if you have an idea of where you’re going you might think well, how do I make it happen? I’m sure if you’re reading this then you want to be successful and not end up plodding along in life so you might have this fear of waking up in 10 years thinking, “what have I done with my life?”
So there’s a few things you can do right now that will help you.
- Take a breath and congratulate yourself! If you’re coming up to the end of your PhD or you’ve already finished, don’t feel you need to know what you’re doing. Also the past few years have been HARD, so celebrate yourself!
- You’re in a transitional phase – Know that you’ve been in a particular phase of your life which is now coming to an end. There may be a period of uncertainty or a transitional period that will feel bumpy as you figure out what your next phase is. It’s important to give yourself space and protect yourself from other people who might constantly ask you “oh what are you doing next? Or are you going to stay?”.
- Know that you may be in a comfort bubble – Studying a PhD or EngD is hard, BUT, very often your university can end up feeling like you’re home. If you’ve been there for years, have built up a friendship group and know where your fav coffee shop is, then it’s hard to imagine leaving. Feeling comfortable is lovely, but know that this can hold you back. Don’t stay in academia JUST because you’re comfortable!
- Figure out what you want – If you want to avoid plodding along then you need to get clear on what it is you want, not necessarily in 20 years time because nobody knows that, but you need to be clear on what you want this new phase to be like and the type of work you want to do otherwise you’re just holding yourself back from what you’re truly capable of.
- Look at the bigger picture first – Before you start thinking about your transferable skills, look at things from a bigger perspective first. Think about what you believe in and the sort of industries and areas you’re interested. Don’t get bogged down into the nitty gritty of job descriptions at first.
- Apply for jobs even if you don’t tick all the boxes – If you feel you want to leave where you are then apply for jobs where you don’t have everything on the job description. It’s very normal to feel that you should only be applying for jobs if you can tick off everything they want but it’s not true. To be honest very often bullet points are added just to pad out a job description so really you have no idea which ones they want to prioritise. Also companies might decide in the moment that they like you and even though you don’t have as much experience they may see potential. So don’t let this hold you back.
- Listen to episode 3 – Episode 3 breaks down how to decide your career direction which will help get you some clarity.
If you’re in a situation where you feel dissatisfied with your job, or your coming to a crossroads in your career then grab my FREE Career Clarity Starter guide.