04 December 2020

I’ve Graduated… Now What?

Are you in your final year? If so, kudos to you for reaching the final part of uni life! Finally, a world without curfews, assignments, and lectures. With the degree scroll in hand, you’re ready to embark on your post-university life. A chapter where everything is possible… But hold on, I know you have that one burning question:

What’s next?

It's exciting to wear that badge of honor — the graduate status. However, this joy of accomplishment can also quickly wear off. Adulting? Sounds boring and dreadful! Working a 9-to-5 job, paying bills, so on and so forth, ad infinitum. 

However, fret not! It can be nerve-wrecking stepping out into the real world and (finally) actualising all the theories learned. However, let me debunk you off the norm’s perception that you’d have to head straight into work as there are many paths you can take post-graduation that aren't as daunting as they may seem!

Working goes beyond corporate. Consider other working experience like internships, part-time jobs, or even working with NGOs, which are equally rewarding.

1. Work It

It's after all one of the obvious choices moving forward from varsity life. Keep in mind not to limit your search for graduate jobs only. Other work experience — internships, part-time jobs, or even working with NGOs, are just as rewarding and can help you determine what to do next. These types of employment are especially useful for you to understand the inner workings of an industry before agreeing on heavier commitments. Don’t be afraid to jump into the wild wild west of jobs. For example, some of my colleagues majored in Engineering but followed their heart and opted to pursue auditing after graduating. Don’t be surprised if your major does not have a major bearing on your true calling!

Flaunt your entrepreneurship skills and be your own boss!

2. I’m the Boss of ME

If you’re highly independent, creative, and tenacious, now’s your time to shine! Whether it’s dropshipping, helping out with the family business, or simply creating an online presence, don’t hesitate to kickstart your solo career. Get in touch with your entrepreneurial edge or even inner Picasso! There’s no limit on what you’ll work on or even where you’ll end up. With the meteoric rise of social media (and with the proper content), you may have a Twitter account following the size of Cayman Island in no time. Put that performing skills to test and don’t be shy to TikTok your heart out! In a year as crazy as 2020, embrace the new normal.

3. Not Done With Varsity Life

You’ve got the scroll in one hand and transcript in the other. Yay! You’re ready to move on from all the studying… Right? 

During my university days, I wore the study enthusiast (tbh nerd — but potayto, potahto) and I felt like my varsity years barely scratched the surface of my majors. If we’re alike, then you may feel unready to look at uni life through the rear-view mirrors just yet. Hence, leading us to put on our thinking caps (or mortar boards, if you will) and ponder… Should I pursue postgraduate studies?

Thinking of continuing your postgraduate studies? We've got three tips for you.

During my last semester, I was blessed with a job offer and a couple of offers to pursue Masters at really good public universities. As someone who was stuck between Work Street and Postgraduate Avenue intersection, let me share 3 main tips that will help you make that decision without wanting to pull your hair out.

Determine your reason.

First, make sure you know why you really want to pursue Masters. Is it for the love of studying in-depth and gaining knowledge in the chosen field or for the recognition on your CV? If you’re initially aiming for it for a higher salary bracket or to improve your employability rate, it’s better to rethink your option. Pursuing your Master’s degree is not an easy road but, with the right intentions, it’s definitely a rewarding one. 

Ask everyone. 

If you’re in disagreement with your parents, lecturers, or anyone else regarding this decision, please don’t do what my friends suggested me. Don’t ever Rock-Paper-Scissors it! Instead, get advice from professionals, opinions from lecturers, and a heart-to-heart conversation with your family. Personally, I’ve lost count on the number of lecturers I contacted for advice!

Tip: You can easily get in touch with professionals and recruiters from the events held by Career Services!

The ultimate decision maker. 

Now that you’ve asked (almost) everyone, who should you listen to? Yourself! Keep in mind that it’s ultimately your decisions that’ll shape your life. Seeking others’ opinions just serve as a guidance and it’s best if you follow your heart. Keep in mind that you don’t need to seek others’ validation for what you want.

Tip: You can even use these 3 tips to help you decide what path to take next.

Take a step back, put your legs up, and get to know yourself through a gap year.

4. Gap Year

Students are always bombarded with the idea of working or furthering their studies. Let’s not forget that you can hit the brakes too! Take a gap year and do whatever you want. If you didn’t get that dream job this time round, refrain from Bridget-Jonesing it. Wallowing in sadness with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s is not the way to celebrate this freedom. Instead, you can hone relevant skills which may open doors to other opportunities.

Enjoy the grand exit!

Although the pandemic sort of stripped away the joy of graduating, don’t forget that it is a big deal! Regardless of whether you plan your next move or just wing it, it doesn’t matter! Being twenty-something, what matters is to enjoy the opportunity of discovering the world.  Don’t hold on too tightly to the adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”. It’s crucial not to be swayed (or pressured) into doing something you don’t want to do. You’ve only one life, and the best way to live life is with no regrets. If there’s less hand-wringing over your decisions, there’ll be less stress. Keep an open mind and you’ll be more open to opportunities. Life is after all, a kaleidoscope of wonders!

Puteri Nelissa Milani completed her Bachelor of Business (Honours) Finance and Economics at Taylor's University in August 2020 and is currently working as an internal auditor with Maybank. She is also a journalist for the independent student-run organisation Financial Literacy for Youths: Malaysia (FLY: Malaysia).

Puteri Nelissa Milani
Guest Contributor