With deadlines and exams finished, students are now trying to answer the question, "what's next?". This question can be both exciting and terrifying, but Hannah, a career advisor at Lancaster University, shares her experience as students navigate their next steps.
Let’s be honest, we all want a BANG, ‘I am God and I want you to do this job my child’ moment, but in reality, this won’t happen to us all. Therefore, we need to think practically about how you can work out what to do with your life.
1. Think about your big picture goals
So firstly, let's start with the big picture. What are your motivators? It could be things like money, location, travel, autonomy, making a difference, work-life balance.
Let me say now, that you should not feel guilty about your motivators, as long as they are in line with Christian teaching. For example, money could be your biggest motivator, because you want to support others with that money. This is something that is between you and God. Equally, we are not all called to work in charities or the church. Many of us are called to work in industry, being a Christian witness to those within our workplaces, and you should not feel guilty about this.
2. Who are you?
God has designed us all as individuals. Romans 12:6 says “we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” If He has given you all these skills and interests, He wants you to use them in your life. Therefore, think about the following things:
- What are your skills, giftings and experiences? – if you find this tough, ask your family and friends
- What do you enjoy doing? – think back to your experiences – not just paid, but other things you’ve done in your degree, or extracurricular activities
- What are you passionate about?
- Realistically what opportunities are out there for you to apply to? – if you want to live in a particular area, think about the industry around you.
- What is God calling you to? – everything you do needs to be underpinned in prayer
"As Christians, we are not called to a comfortable life. This means that it is unlikely that you will be in your dream job from the moment you graduate. I have certainly done my share of boring jobs, but they were essential parts of my career journey."
3. Research Potential Job Roles
Once you have some ideas, explore what jobs might fit into this. Prospects is a space which is aimed at students and graduates, where you can look at job profiles. You can also just take a look at live jobs, not just ones that you can apply to now, but ones you may want to do in 5, 10, 20 years time, and explore what skills and experience are needed for that, then work backward. If you feel you can, also take a look at people’s LinkedIn profiles to see their career journeys.
Additionally, please do seek advice from your university careers team. We’re not scary people, and we just want to help you to achieve the next step that’s right for you!
4. Make a decision
Once you have explored potential jobs, it comes to a bit of decision making. In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus shows us a bit about decision making. It is your responsibility to make good decisions. Of course, we can use signs, and words of knowledge from others, but you need to make that decision for yourself, and sometimes that will involve taking risks. As Christians, we are not called to a comfortable life. This means that it is unlikely that you will be in your dream job from the moment you graduate. I have certainly done my share of boring jobs, but they were essential parts of my career journey.
"These situations could be shaping us into who God wants us to be, as opposed to what He wants us to do."
Once you’ve got some ideas, start applying! Set yourself some realistic goals for applying for jobs, and don’t panic if you get rejected. Tailor your application for each role, and be realistic about what kinds of jobs you can apply to. If you’re struggling with this, get in touch with your university careers service – most will have support for graduates as well as students.
5. Accept your reality - COVID-19
Now I can’t let this go without talking about our current situation. I’m sure you’ve all seen the news that companies are hiring less. Yes, this is the reality of the situation, and sadly, there’s nothing we can do about this, as much as I want to change it for you! However, there are plenty of jobs still out there to apply for! Therefore, my advice to you is to keep applying for jobs you find interesting, but also think about your skills/experience gaps, and how you can fill it at this time.
You may be able to do some volunteering, or work at supermarkets, fruit picking, farming, these are all experiences that can get you experience, and develop your skills. It may not be a glamourous job or one you dreamed of, but strength of character and integrity are so important to whatever our job is. God calls us to "work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people" (Colossians 3:23). Let’s be a generation that embraces our situations, working well, and wholeheartedly, with honesty and a healthy commitment to work. These qualities can open doors for us to progress, but also help us to continue to value ourselves even if our employers don’t. These situations could be shaping us into who God wants us to be, as opposed to what He wants us to do.
6. Don’t panic!
It’s ok to feel some anxiety and panic about your next steps, but remember that you are not alone in this. There are plenty of people who are here to support you, and remember that “with every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way" (Proverbs 3:5-6).