How to answer the question: 'What do you want to do after university?'
white markee light
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

How to answer the question: 'What are you going to do after university?'

Jennifer Prince February 5, 2022

Reaching your final year of university means you will inevitably be asked this question a lot more often than you would like. Well really, wouldn’t we all like to never be asked and just ignore the fact that we might have to get full-time jobs after graduation? It is often accompanied by ‘Are you dating anyone yet?’ and ‘How are your exams going?’.

You know that the person asking these questions means well. But you would rather they shoved this part of the conversation where the sun doesn’t shine. At the end of the day, if you do not have any plans lined up after university, you are not alone. Who dreams of working anyway?

If You Know the Answer…

Great! Shout from the rooftops about your grad scheme, job, masters, or travel plans. Go you! Even if you change your mind in the future, be proud of yourself and do not be scared to tell people all about your plans, they will love to hear it.

If You Don’t…

Do not be disappointed if you feel like you should have a five-year plan, or something lined up already to move on to. University is not easy, and you have your whole life ahead of you to decide on a career. If you are just focusing on finishing your degree and enjoying the next few months with your friends that is perfectly ok, not to mention a huge achievement.

Career paths can be unpredictable. But the flexibility you have by being undecided about your plans can work in your favour. Remember, postgraduate applications have not closed yet, travelling can be an option, and graduate schemes are not just for people fresh out of university. The world is your oyster.

Photo by Vadim Bogulov on Unsplash

Try Not to Panic

Admittedly, this is easier said than done. But, when faced with this question, honesty really is the best policy. For instance, there’s no point saying you are going to do a law conversion course when you have no intention of actually applying. The same goes for rushing into a role for the sake of it. I would answer by saying you have no concrete plans yet. But you have joined some graduate agencies and are currently researching the different options open to you. You could even suggest some possible career paths or some that you have ruled out.

Overall, it is entirely your business when and what you decide your next steps are. The pressure to pick a path seems high, and comparing yourself to your peers is hard to avoid. But you really aren’t stuck in the mud. In the words of Paddy McGuinness ‘the power is in your hands’. So you are free to go at your own pace.

Read next: Why you should join your university radio station

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Jennifer is a Manchester-based freelance journalist and has been writing for Freshered since its launch in November 2021. She graduated in December 2022 from The University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) degree in English Literature, where she spent much of her time writing and reporting for Redbrick Newspaper. A lover of variety, Jennifer covers topics ranging from university advice, live music and theatre reviews, to news and current events, but seeks to expand her work to cover sustainability and the climate crisis. Her aim is to make journalism more accessible to the everyday reader. As a GirlGuiding Volunteer in her spare time, Jennifer is never one to be boring. When she’s not writing she can often be found with her head in a book, trying a new craft, or on the dancefloor.