25 years ago I was in your shoes. Excited by the thrill of expectation, and there being no internet nor emails through which to inquire from companies, I took a mega postal directory, jotted down the addresses of all research firms in the country, developed a shoddy looking CV, made several copies, and hit the ground running, literally, looking for a job. What a big mistake it was. Not many companies were willing to hire a newbie, not many companies were willing to do as little as replying to my handwritten, post delivered letters. In the current world of the internet and email, things may have changed but they aren’t very different. What then should you do upon completing campus? Apart from finding a job, you have a million and one options.
Take a sabbatical
It’s never a bad idea to take a rest from the world of books, a sabbatical of sorts. For goodness sake, you’ve been buried in books for decades, not really, but that surely was a long time. Just take a well-deserved break, travel the world, go camping with family and friends, discover the world around you, get to know where you came from, meet those old folks you last saw when growing up, or the one aunt you last saw on her way to Canaan. Let them appreciate how much you’ve grown. Clear your head, get rid of the disappointments of the CAT marks you went searching for, for ages only to discover that you got 2 out of 20, clean up your system and get the weight off academic life off your shoulders!
You could also decide to pursue further studies. If you are from a well to do family, or can access higher education loans or scholarships, you may choose to go back to school immediately or even engage in a work study program if your campus offers this solution. It doesn’t have to be a Master’s or a Ph.D. There are lots of short professional courses that can enhance your expertise in any chosen field. You can choose to study accounting for example, or pursue CIM certification in marketing, or take a German or Mandarin exam. The options are endless, and the rewards enormous. Pick this option if learning something new excites you every day. Become an expert, learn an extra language or add yet another feather onto your degree cap.
Polish your testimonials
If you are not into books so much, a little polishing here and there would do. Even as you take that sabbatical mentioned earlier, you could take some time to work on your CV and polish it to suit the career path you may have chosen before you get down to the serious business that is job hunting. Make sure you have the certificates, testimonials and references you need. Are you a member of any professional body? Did you get any recommendation when you were games captain? Did you score highly in any area other than the dining hall? Time to exhume those precious testimonials, pimp up your CV and get set.
How about monetizing your hobbies? For the three or four years you were on campus, you couldn’t think so much about them, did you? That post-graduation period may be the perfect time to start earning real money from your passion. If you are a talented artist, painter or musician, this can be the time to earn from your talent. Teach kids how to play the piano, offer home tuition; engage in anything that will bring you income while you weigh your options. Ask for help when stuck, but by all means, do something with your free time that will generate revenue for you and yours.
Get an internship
You can also seek internship opportunities or volunteer at a firm that deals in what you studied back in campus. You don’t have to be paid for the two or three months you are there, but by all means, do your best. It may appear as if you are being taken advantage of, and indeed some people may seek to take advantage of your fresh graduate tag, but that shouldn’t discourage you. If a paid internship comes your way, grab it. If it doesn’t, volunteer. The experience you gain and the recommendations that come thereafter may be worth more than the stipend you thought was well deserved. Use your internship to gain exposure, build your capacity and network. Let it relieve you of the monotony of books, and the desperation of relentless job hunting.
Fall in love
After everything has been said and done, life after campus may be the time you refocus on yourself as an individual. No, I don’t mean you go raving each and every night, or reconnect with your wild side, not at all. Fall in love with you, fall in love with them, fall in love with life.
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