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The next step after university can be one of the most daunting. There are so many options and every graduate recruiter promises great times, amazing prospects and the chance to be a part of something. The reality can be very different. Graduate positions are often very difficult to acquire, require soul sapping hours and can lead graduates down uninspiring career paths. Today’s graduates (rightly or wrongly) want more than a stable job and a decent salary – a mission focussed company, perks and interesting work are all high on the wish list.

Does this mean today’s generation have high standards or are the most molly-coddled of all time? We won’t pass judgement but what we will do is take a look at some interesting options for today’s ambitious graduates that want to do something interesting and build a great skillset.

One of the best ways to supercharge your career is Teach First; whether you want to be a great teacher, education leader or just want to develop some extraordinary skills look no further. Teach First is a charity that places elite graduates into schools which have a certain level of deprivation, simultaneously addressing the teacher shortage and getting some keen graduates into the classroom.

It’s not for the faint hearted – after six weeks of training you’re given a nearly full timetable in often difficult circumstances. It’s a great programme for developing your skills. Resilience, creativity and interpersonal skills will be needed in abundance to get through this challenge, but once you do get through you’ll be well equipped to take your career in any direction you choose.

Frontline

A similar idea to Teach First, this takes graduates and puts them in critical social worker roles. Like Teach First having to face difficult issues so early in your career bodes well for being able to tackle difficult situations later in your career.

Exposure to real people in real life situations only improves your outlook on the world. For some graduates working in a law office on obscure banking law may be very difficult both in terms of stamina and intellectually but it’s very removed from how most people live. Getting exposure to some of the most vulnerable people in society is a great way to develop compassion, interpersonal and problem solving skills necessary for many careers.

Start a Startup

There has never been a better time to launch a startup – there is so much information out there now that there really is no excuse to not getting started. Alongside a mountain of information there are well developed networks and accelerators all over the world – the most famous of which being Y Combinator of Silicon Valley.

Some would argue that a startup should be tackled after some work experience so you have maturity and experience, Y Combinator’s average founder age is 29. Some of the most famous startup founders have built their empires out of their dorm rooms, of which Mark Zuckerberg is probably the most famous.

There is no right answer but if you have an itch then scratching it is probably a good idea – there really is nothing quite like running a startup, so if that’s your passion, you have viable financial circumstances, and the right partners, then what’s to stop you? If you find you need more resources initially, find work in other startups to build contacts and ideas first.

Disrupt an Industry

From law to farming to gambling, technology and innovation are shaping industries like never before. Even politics is ripe for disruption – new parties, new campaigns and new ways of engaging voters will all come to the fore. For graduates looking to be part of the future choose a company who are at the forefront of an industry to get an incredible insight into new ways of working. This is a perfect way to build the skillset of the future. For example if gaming is your thing you can find Casumo open positions on their website or if you prefer jobs in Agriculture technology take a look here.

MI6

The MI6 work overseas gathering intelligence to make the UK safer. It’s as close to James Bond as you can get although the reality is certainly very different. In today’s world with a highly uncertain geopolitical landscape and evolving technologies this means even modest powers can wreak havoc, which points to an interesting time for the intelligence community.

I’m not sure how transferable the skills used in MI6 are but it’s definitely a real world challenge. So whether your motivation is to help make the world a safer place, to have interesting experiences or to build a phenomenal skill set then this could be the option for you.

As a closing thought, before deciding on your career move after university think about what you really want from your career. Expect hard work and a lack of glamour. Building a great skill set takes time and it isn’t always fun, but working hard will pay dividends in the long run.

 

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