work

Not knowing what you want to do is okay

By: Jake Jones

Don’t know what to do after you leave university?  Can’t decide what you want to do with life?  Well don’t stress!  Not knowing your next career move is completely normal and few people have a prepared a grand career strategy ready for when they graduate.

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Not knowing your next career move is completely normal

Not many graduates step out of university and straight into their dream job.  For most of us, it takes time and trialling to find a job that suits us. It’s also common for people to change careers, travel, have a change of scenery or pursue greater work benefits.   Instead of thinking about your big career plan, it’s often more beneficial to consider what the next best step is and work towards it.

This might not be obvious, but there are many things to think about which could help you make a move in the right direction:

Learn more about you                                      

A useful first move is to understand more about yourself.  What do you like?  What are you good at?  Think about what makes you excited and how you enjoy spending your time – can you think of any job which might involve these?  Sometimes, answering these simple questions can be difficult (‘I don’t know!’ ‘All my options sound boring!’ ‘I like seeing my friends, reading and eating hummus – how can I tie these into a career?!’), but there are many ways to learn more about yourself.

During your studies or after you graduate, you’ll have many opportunities to discover more about yourself.  Perhaps try an internship, volunteer, or get a further qualification, work experience or job in a field you’re curious about.  Remember, job hopping is perfectly common. Give a job a go for a while and then change if you’d like to try something new – you’ll never know if you don’t try!

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Some graduates work in industry for a while then come back to do a PhD.  Some get an office job or casual work in Manchester to give their brains a break, save up some cash, and have time to meditate on their next career move.  Others find a job that they really enjoy and keep at it.  There are hundreds of options and you might have no idea about which is best for you, but this is completely normal and it’s fine to change!

Work out what you enjoy and identify your strengths whilst you study

There are also lots of things you can do during your studies to help you discover what you enjoy and identify your strengths.  Maybe try a part-time job, volunteer with a local charity, get involved in some student societies and projects, or get a summer work placement.  By trying new things and stepping outside your comfort zone, you’ll learn about your likes and dislikes, how you feel in different environments, meet new people, and also boost your confidence along the way.

Perhaps you’re considering teaching?  Participate in some outreach events at local schools, or maybe try Teaching English as a Foreign Language in another country.  Or what about research?  Talk to some academics and PhD students and ask if you can shadow them for a day.  Interested in writing?  Try blogging or getting involved with student media.  There are hundreds of things you can try to learn about different careers!

Think about your priorities

It’s also worth thinking about what’s important to you.  What kind of lifestyle do you want?  Would you sacrifice a chunky salary for lots of free-time and the flexibility to travel?  Or do you place more value on a stable salary and a good pay cheque?  Remember, it’ll probably be easier to travel and try new jobs as a graduate fresh out of uni than later in life when you might be limited by greater work commitments, mortgages and families to support.

Ask for advice

atrium careers service

The Careers Service offer a wealth of knowledge on your options, tips on what you can do with your degree, advice on applications and interviews, and guidance sessions with a careers consultant to help discuss your ideas.  Make the most of them whilst you’re here in Manchester, but rest assured that their full range of services are still available to alumni two years after they graduate.  Learn more about the Careers Service here.

Also, consider talking to your lecturers and academic advisors – they might be able to offer advice or connect you with some industry contacts.

Check out graduate websites, they’re aimed at giving career advice, advertising job vacancies, and providing news on various job sectors.  The most popular sites are Target Jobs, Prospects, and Milkround. These resources are a goldmine of information and job vacancy postings – but don’t feel overwhelmed.  Researching these can give you a good idea of what jobs are on the market and what graduates with your degree typically do.

Don’t panic

Sometimes not knowing what to do next can make you feel lost and anxious about your future, but rest assured this is the norm!  Most people don’t fall into their dream career immediately after graduating and it’s natural to spend a few years experimenting with different jobs, contemplating your options and trying new things.  The first steps on any new journey are often small, so start now by trying new things, exploring your options, and learning about what suits you!

5 Reasons why you should work at a Summer Camp!

By: Mary Johnson

I admit I was once a cynic amongst the converted… Those tanned, cheerful folk, returning rejuvenated from THE ‘best summer ever’. However, after experiencing it all first hand, I can truly say that spending my summer as a camp counsellor was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

So, if you’re still sitting on that white picket fence about it, trying to decide whether or not committing to a summer State-side is for you, let me give you a few reasons and a gentle shove in the right direction…

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1. The Friendships

Without a doubt, the bonds you make at camp are unique. Complete strangers become your colleagues, your room mates and your confidants, all in the space of orientation week. You see each other at your best and your worst; first thing at breakfast as you race to the granola bar, to last thing at night before you close your eyes, agreeing that the fan must definitely stay on. It’s like an impossible recipe for friendship to get wrong!

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The kids aren’t such bad company either!

 2. It will be Beautiful!

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Most camps are situated in some of the most stunning, well preserved locations in the country. As a sailing counsellor, I got to enjoy the crystal clear spring-fed lake that we were so fortunate to call our waterfront. N.B. Free up that iCloud storage in preparation for the hundreds of photos you will no doubt take of everything around you…

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The commute to work – It’s no M6 but it’ll do

 3. It’s Pretty Straightforward

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One of the things that really appealed to me when applying, was the seamlessness of the application process. There’s a great range of recruitment companies out there, ready and eager to get you employed (and take a cut of your earnings…) That said, if you’re in it for the money and less so for the experience, you may want to rethink your summer plans! #notfo’golddiggas I personally went through Camp America and found their VISA and staff application processes really straightforward.

4. FOOD

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In most cases, 90% of the food you have is lovingly made on site by your camp’s kitchen staff. However, the rest of your culinary decisions are at your full discretion on days and evenings off and depending on the local eatery scene, the possibilities can be endless… Think ice-cream huts serving virtually every flavour under the sun and endless ‘soda’ refills on trips to the cinema! *Bumps up health insurance in preparation of type 2 diabetes*

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The Maine event: lobster

 5. The Authentic American Experience

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Before coming to camp, I had never stepped foot on American soil (bar the embassy) and I can’t think of a better way to have first experienced it! From the amazing welcome I received and the total immersion in all things American, including late night Walmart trips and Fourth of July fireworks, to my after camp travels along the East Coast, it was all amazing!

 My only regret is not doing it sooner!

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Land ahoy! Next stop, Camp 2017!