University Graduation, Haircuts and ‘Moving On’

1 Jun

Finishing University has made me realise something that, prior to such ‘freedom’, was under-stressed to me and my fellow students: ITS NOT ALL ABOUT DEGREES. Let me be clear, I am not undermining my qualification, rubbishing the importance a good education or regretting my choice to go to university and study Geography. In fact, it has been my best decision so far. However, I have, like many of my fellows, rapidly developed an appreciation for ‘the bigger picture’. Whilst I always knew that I was going to finish my degree and I have largely stuck to my game-plan, the apparent freedom of finishing my final exams has significantly altered my perspective of post-graduate life [one consequence being this blog!].

I guess you are now thinking “well obviously your attitude towards it is going to change… you’ve reached the end of your degree….every graduate faces the same challenge” ; Okay, I agree, BUT, I do not agree with what many consider the next step. From talking to my fellow geography students there seems to be two approaches to finishing university:

1.) Apply like crazy for Jobs and/or a Masters course.
2.) “I guess I’ll just ride it out and hope for the best…..”

These customary attitudes towards ‘moving on’ seem problematic in my eyes. Firstly, whilst approach one potentially offers you the security of a job and the satisfaction of knowing you are ‘trying’, it also threatens to rush you into a field you do not want to be in and/or are not happy in (be it immediate or later in life). Furthermore, I have personally found it rare that a final year student has a fully thought out plan or goals before they ‘apply like crazy’; thus suggesting that they are ill prepared for the field they are about to jump into. Secondly, approach two is just too hazy (perhaps lazy!) for me.

Taking the above points (along with some additional reading!) has caused me to view myself as a product; where my buyers are potential employers, people I meet (both in real life and virtually) and any others who I come in contact with. This product is still, and always will be, in development…. continually searching for the right niche in the market (or field of employment/speciality), making sure the product is best prepared for the buyers needs and wants. Leaving the ‘University field’ has created an opportunity for a re-branding of this product (starting with a haircut!). And, like any other product, serious long-term planning is required – making sure I do not launch the product into the wrong market [as we see above in approach 1.)]. Moreover, I will not just let the product ‘ride it out and hope for the best’, I would rather build the ride so I can best know what is coming; thus minimise the hope and create opportunity.

What I am a proposing here is that graduation is not simply a starting gun for the employment race, it is more of an opportunity to build and re-enforce your product (yourself). Yes, a job is required to support your financial means; however, I believe that a carefully thought-out plan full of innovation and determination is needed to build a career in which you happily prosper.

It is my life, I am the product, and a durable brand supported by a strong plan is crucial to my future.


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