University is time consuming – from balancing your social life, work and exams to any other commitments that you have, sometimes you can feel there is little time to do anything else. When the holidays come around, it is so easy to chill out, travel or see home friends. You forget to focus on post-university life and ignore the reality of having to get a job. Some people are lucky - they know exactly what they want to do and manage to secure work placements or internships over the summer. Many of us however, can leave Uni and suddenly realise that we have nothing to do and no idea of what even to go in to. First of all, it is important to remember that there are so many people in the same situation, less than 30% of graduates end up in a job related to their degree. Sure, some people graduate knowing exactly what type of job they’re looking for, and start off the bat. If you’re not one of those people, don’t worry, the key is to be productive and actually figure out what you want and what suits you as an individual. Here are 5 tips to help you find your way:

1. Get to know yourself and find out what you want

Sometimes the best course of action is to try out different areas. Do internships, utilise people you know, and even if it is a week unpaid placement, you are one step closer to realising what you want. Just because you didn’t do internships during university, doesn’t mean you can’t do them afterwards. It might mean getting a part-time job on the side to fund it, but you begin to get a grasp on what type of things you enjoy, rather than walking blindly into the first paid job you can find. In every place you work, you find out what suits you and what doesn’t. Whether you prefer a smaller company, a social aspect is important to you, or whether certain field suits you. You learn so much about yourself in a work environment, which is important as it’s probably a side of you that you didn’t know before. You might be convinced that an office job is something that’s not even slightly up your street, but in truth, how do you know until you’ve tried it?  No opportunity is wasted, and even if you hate the time that you’ve spent somewhere, you know that field is not for you and have gained experience in something that you can add to your CV and talk about in an interview. Win-win.

2. Identify what is important to you

Just like when looking for a relationship, everyone has a bit of a checklist. Some things you are willing to compromise on and others you aren’t. It’s similar when it comes to looking for jobs. After finding out a bit more in terms of what you want, put together a list of things that are really important to you in a job. If money and instant progression in your field is essential to you, there will be certain professions that will accommodate more for this than others. Do you want to travel, or work in the city? Again, there are certain roles that will be more likely to provide this. Predominantly, it’s about identifying key areas such as working in finance, marketing and PR or other areas, and understanding the pros and cons of each one for you. Once you have your checklist you can narrow down these areas and ultimately find jobs that suit you.

3. Don’t worry, your degree won’t have been pointless

Every degree teaches you something, even in the form of basic skills that you can transfer to your working life. Time management, the ability to research, working under pressure, writing essays or even the team work in seminars. They all contribute to key skills that you need in the work place. Even if you go into something that is the polar opposite to your degree, you will still use all of the skills that you learnt and honed at university.

4. Don’t obsess over a dream job or rejection

It’s important to have goals and attempt to achieve them, but sometimes they can cloud our ability to be rational. You want to have areas, roles and companies that you aspire to work in, but don’t forget that to a certain degree everything happens for a reason. If you are rejected by a company, it’s not a negative on you. They want to hire people that they feel could fit in and do the job. Just because they don’t feel that way about you, does not mean that another company won’t think you are incredible and perfect for them. When you know which area is for you, apply to everywhere you think will be beneficial to you, some places won’t feel the same about you, but ultimately, every interview is good practice and you will eventually find your fit.

5. Get yourself out there

From Linkedin to putting your CV on Reed and other recruitment websites, you want to get your name out there and be proactive in looking for jobs. Recruiters can access your details and then help you in your search. Some of the recruitment may seem far away from what you’re looking for, but they can be helpful in narrowing down the search for you. Sometimes you might think that something is not for you, but after getting more details you question how you didn’t realise this is what you were looking for all along. The key is to get yourself out there and then be flexible with your options. Get people’s advice and keep an open mind, you might be surprised what you can find.