What on Earth do I do now?
Congratulations! You have reached the end of the conventional educational ladder - the end of your first degree (BSc/BA). Hopefully you have been awarded the grade you deserved, but one thing is sure, it 'am what it am'!
Broadly, the list comprises:
The first option is only likely to be open to a small proportion of students who have achieved a 2.1 or 1st degree (there will be exceptions to this generalization). The third option is undesirable from everyone's point of view, so that leaves number two!
It is an extremely rare young person who knows what they want to do in life, and most people only find their true niche in life later, if at all. So the best plan is to get cracking on something (anything!) and plan changes as you go along.
The advantages of getting into employment as quickly as possible are:
Don't make the mistake of thinking you should wait until a job in your chosen field comes along: it may never do so, or maybe not for quite a while. There's nothing wrong (and everything right) with getting a job that gets you started, and continuing to look out for 'a proper job'. You could change jobs several times over the first five years of your working life before you acquire the label 'job-hopper'. Employers understand that it takes a while for young people to find their feet.
The vast majority of people 'fall into' long term careers by this process of trial and error, and never end up in what seemed like 'the proper job' at the outset.
OK! So you've decided to take this advice and get cracking. Now, what exactly should you do?
As an interim measure, register with two or three generalist agencies in your home town. It is probably best to tell them that you are really after a job in your specialist field, but that you are willing to consider any job as a stepping stone. Alternatively, you could register for temporary work, which would give you more flexibility to change jobs if you don't like the work you are given, and to go to interviews in your specialist field.
Apply to every job that interests you. Do not worry if the advertisement asks for more experience than you have to offer. The employer may not be able to find an experienced person, and by applying you will be saving him the expense of re-advertising for a trainee in a month's time. Secondly.they may have another, unadvertised job for a trainee. Thirdly, what have you got to lose by trying?
If you have been able to obtain back issues of publications, apply to every organization that advertised the sort of jobs you are interested in, in the last year (or in fact, as far back as you like!). Write a slightly different covering letter to accompany your CV:
Dear Sir/Madam, I noticed that in last January's issue of The Widget that you were advertising for a Widget Engineer. This is exactly the sort of job I am looking for. If you have any current or forthcoming vacancies for Trainee Widget Engineers, then I would be very interested to meet you. I enclose a CV for your consideration.
Do not worry about doing this: they might not have filled the job, or they might have filled the job, but the new person didn't work out very well, or they might have a new position. Again, what have you got to lose?
Dear Mr Jones, I have graduated this year in Widget Engineering, and I am looking to commence a career in this field. I have identified your company as one which operates in this market, and I would be very grateful if you could consider me for work within your company. I am completely flexible about the nature of work that I do, as long as it helps me develop my career in widget engineering. I am keen and enthusiastic, and a very hard worker. Please contact me if you have any opportunities for me, otherwise I will telephone you in two weeks if I haven't heard from you before then.
If the last line seems a bit pushy, don't worry! Employers much prefer people who are willing to push themselves forward, and demonstrate some strength of character and the determination to succeed. You will get much better results from this approach than from the 'I look forward to hearing from you.' method.
What you don't ask for.!