Graduating: The 1 decision you make that will affect the next 10 years?


If your student days are coming to an end at Sunderland or Teesside University, there’s probably going to be a ton of questions that are rattling inside your head at this moment, but probably the main question that’s loudest is “What do I do after graduation?”.

Not sure what to do after graduating?

The graduation ceremony marks an end of an era, which leaves you at a fork road in your life, where there’s no clear and obvious direction. It’s important for you to make the right decision now, as your decision will potentially affect the next 5-10 years of your life?


Let’s take a look at how some of available options will affect what you do and how you feel for the next decade…

Option 1: Post graduation courses

Ideal for: Laser focused students who have known what they wanted to do since they were 5 years old!

Let’s be honest. We all know a friend or a person who is so laser focused on their career that they knew what they doing since a small age! They had everything planned way in advance and we can only stand from a far and be envious that they’ve already got a path outlined for them.

Going for post graduate program

Post Grad courses can be a good option though. If you have a fairly good idea what you want to do in later life, it can be seen as one of the safer option to choose, as you’re delaying the decision of going out into the “real world”; but if your career requires you to take an MBA, PhD etc such as being a doctor, in the legal or professional industry, then it’s a good idea to get the standard qualifications that an employer expects.

You should take into account the following though:

  • Finances and whether you can afford to continue studying
  • The earning potential of taking the post grad course compared to the earning potential of not (or delaying the post grad course for future)
  • Your desire/ability to study another course from scratch which could see the next 1-3 years in a more stressful student life
Post graduate course stress

Post graduate course stress

What you definitely shouldn’t do is choose a post grad program because you’re stuck for something to do. What will most likely happen is you’ll get uninterested, drop out of the course and be saddled with debt that adds an extra 10 years to pay off.

If you’re unsure whether this is the path for you, take proper counseling from career advisers in university, family members or experts in the field you want to go into before pursuing the post-graduation course.


Option 2: Getting a job after graduating

Ideal for: those who are sick of studying, those that have an idea what they want to do and just need experience, or those that just need money now!

This is the most popular option for fresh graduates. Aside from needing money (probably to start paying off your student loan/overdraft/parents), society as a whole, (we’re talking about your parents, friends and nosey neighbours) expects you to get a job.

Get a job after graduating

Doesn’t matter which job.

Just a job…

The problem with this though is that it’s throwing you in the deep end of what we like to call “The rat race”. If you don’t have a clear goal in mind as to where you want to be in your career, then you can easily get side tracked into doing something you don’t enjoy… for the next 10 years! Then after you’ve realised and want to do something about it, you will be starting from step 1 again…


So what do you do when you need the money but don’t want to end up in that situation?

Most of the universities offer career counseling or job assistance. It’s advisable to work out what your interest is first, and then seek a job that’s in that area, rather than plumping for the first job that’s offered to you.

Give me a graduate job now!

Give me a graduate job now!

Getting some work experience is a lot more important in the eyes of an employer so don’t be too worried if its not exactly the job your looking for, as long as the skills you will need are easily transferable/matched to your desired job.

Some good job opportunities exist in small and medium-sized businesses, which give you the benefit of getting good training, vital experience and can prove to be the best platform to reaching your targeted role.

If you’re not clear as to what you want to do, but because finances are forcing you to find a job, then getting a job could be a way to explore yourself and test what your capabilities are and what you enjoy (just don’t say this in your interview!!!) at the same time as attending to your finances. Temp jobs are a good way of testing different sectors of industry and there is always big demand for temp workers.

Post graduating getting temp job

Post graduating getting temp job

Just keep this in your mind, that your exploring what you like and what you don’t like, as you will face a lot of doubt from yourself and others (again family, friends, employers and nosey neighbours) as to why your chopping and changing your jobs.

We’ll give you advise on how to show this in the best light when applying for the right job in another article.

Option 3: starting a business after graduating

Ideal for: those that know what they enjoy and have a passion, those that can’t land a job, those that know they don’t want to be bossed about!

Let’s face it… who likes being bossed about?

Post graduate starting business

Post graduate starting business

If you absolutely detest being told what to do, or hate not having any input into how things are done, then maybe going into business for yourself is the best option.

Starting your own business doesn’t need to be difficult, especially if you know you’re good at something you do. With start-up culture on the rise, many Universities are offering a helping hand to the aspiring entrepreneurs.

Programs ran by the Universities give the opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge in starting a new business. Many offer training sessions/seminars and small groups known as hatcheries or business incubators where experts offer their guidance to the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Of course, it may or may not work out.

If it does work out, then your path for the next 10 years could see you be the envy of everyone, and if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have gained a wealth of knowledge no job could ever give you, so either way, it’s a win-win situation.


Option 4: Explore the World – Take a Small Gap after graduating

Ideal for: those that can afford a bit of time out, those who want to travel and explore the world and those that don’t have a clue as to what they want to do!

Let’s be fair, this is probably what we’d all like to do after graduating. Take a nice gap year and explore exotic countries far away.

post graduate gap year

post graduate gap year

If you have the finances and support, this is easy to do and it is recommended (even if you have a clear direction in mind)


Not only will you get to experience life outside of university and work, you’ll find so much about yourself, what you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy, types of people you get on with, how you deal with adversity. Things that you wont be able to experience and reflect when you have commitments and are stuck in daily routines.

Not to mention that you’ve spent that last 20 years studying!



This is a great opportunity to be able to take time out to explore yourself and the wider world and if you have the chance, take it!

Also as an added benefit, by taking some time out, you can come across to some employers as more mature, organised and self sufficient, which obviously makes you more desirable!

Considering all these options, the immediate future after graduating is an important but also an exciting time in your life. There’s no other time in your life where you will have as much freedom as you will, so make the most of it, enjoy it and choose one of the options that’s going to benefit you in the long term.

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