After you have completed your studies, it can be a long road to getting what you want. A degree isn’t worth as much as it used to be, and it isn’t your golden ticket into employment anymore. Don’t be too hard on yourself as we are all in the same situation. A career is like a house built from scratch, you have the paperwork and you have the planning permission, you just need to build it. You have choices, here are some of them:

The Holy Grail: Chosen job in your field
Unless you live in an alternate reality to the rest of us mere mortals, move on young grasshopper, move on.

Building foundations: Internships, temp jobs, and work experience
With many career choices, these three things are vital and pretty much a no-brainer. Personally, I would advise trying to get as much work experience as you can while you’re still in university and money isn’t as big of a road block. Internships are great, but very competitive because they are one of the most popular options out there. In the US, these are generally paid positions so I would advise you to fight tooth and nail to get one. In the UK, internships are unpaid so are far less attractive to graduates.  Think about what career options your degree has given you and go for anything that may help you in the long run. For example, I don’t personally have the time to give up my job to do a month’s placement in London (where prices sky rocket as soon as you step foot on the train), but I have a fantastic position here at GenTwenty which allows me to write on my days off while providing me with experience to include on my CV.

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Risky business: Starting your own company
This is a smart option if you have great business acumen, but a risk nonetheless. You take your best qualities and assess what service you can offer clients (and no, creating new drinking games does not count as a service). Think about the transferable skills you have learned in customer service jobs, hospitality jobs, charity positions, and in university. Then think about what you can do for people. I know plenty of people who have set up their own PR businesses on the side to make ends meet because they can’t get work in an established PR company. They then used their family contacts to find work. Networking is crucial if you decide on this path, especially if you choose something like blogging and making it financially viable. Once you get going this means a new wardrobe, so at least you can dress like Ivanka Trump. This can go very, very wrong so you need to make sure you are financially stable before you commit.

The comfort blanket: Going back to university
Many graduates, aware of the current employment situation, choose to go back to university for a post-graduate course such as a Masters which is more specialized in their field. If you can afford the expense, it’s a fantastic choice as you can prolong your job search and spend another year as a student. I know a few people who have done this and it worked out wonderfully for them, as it included travel to Australia for a month and a placement back here in the UK which could become a permanent position with the company.

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Survival instinct: Working in a bar/restaurant while your soul dies a little more every day
Ah, the staple of most twenty-something livelihoods – the bar job. Welcome to Sambuca in your hair and beer in your shoes. Working one of these jobs after university feels kind of like getting an orange in your Christmas stocking – anticlimactic. This is what most of us do, we go and get a job in a bar just to pay our bills. Although we start this with good intentions, it seems like we can easily get stuck in a rut. Persistence is the key to escaping the bar job and nothing pushes you to find work like working somewhere that makes you want to poke cocktail stirrers in people’s eyes. This is one of the hardest jobs you will have, especially if you work in the UK where tipping is virtually non-existent. Which means no, we will not give you a smile if it is midnight and you are a drunken ogre wearing a fluffy cowboy hat.

A house doesn’t get built into a home by just staring at it. We have to use whatever tools we have to get to the finished result, and that means facing our own demons, and dealing with rejection. Even if you do have to work in a bar for now, you have to deal with the hardest and most volatile monster in the world – people, and you deserve credit.  Remember that even in bedtime stories, Goldilocks had to sleep in a few beds until she found one that was just right. You will eventually find something that leads you to a peaceful night’s sleep. Until that day comes, erase the word “failure” from your vocabulary, and build that damn house.

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