For whatever reason, you’ve found yourself leaving university sooner than you’d expected. It might seem like a scary time, but dropping out certainly isn’t giving up: it’s an opportunity to figure out your future; a future that is better aligned with what you want out of life.
Plan your first move
Moving back home is likely the first thing you’ll need to do once you leave university. Don’t get too settled back into old routines, though, see the move as a comfortable, temporary base from which to decide your next step. You don’t need to have your whole life planned out just yet, but spend some time working out what’s ‘next’ at least, whether that’s planning a trip or searching for an internship.
Book a flight and live abroad
One of the best ways to figure out your future is to challenge yourself and spend time in a different country. Moving abroad and going through the motions of understanding daily life and fitting in somewhere else has been proven to help you find your ‘sense of self’.
And we’re not talking just a short holiday here, we’re talking about going somewhere for longer. Find an exciting job abroad and spend a few months in a totally new city, or sign up to a study abroad program and keep that grey matter between your ears firing by choosing to learn a new language.
Meet people and network
At university meeting people comes hand-in-hand with studying: You’re constantly exposed to new faces, with large classes, shared living accommodation and parties bringing you into contact with new people every day. As a result, you’re constantly networking, whether you plan to or not.
When you leave university, you’re going to have to put in more effort to meet people, perhaps by joining a new club, rekindling an old hobby, getting back in touch with old friends or even by speaking to your parent’s friends. You might just connect with someone who can help you with work experience or opportunities for your future; you may even be inspired to follow a new path when you find out more about a career that you’d never considered before.
Learn some new skills
Who says that you can’t have fun while building a strong CV? Now’s the time to invest in yourself and instead of studying for exams you can spend your time learning new skills, like picking up a sought-after language, managing a local youth group or volunteering your time in conservation or education programmes. Not only will they give you more confidence, future employers will be delighted to see you spent your time wisely.
Get some work experience
There’s only one way to know for sure whether you like a job or not: To try it. Work experience offers you the perfect introduction to any career, without the commitment of signing a contract or spending a few years ‘giving it a go’. Give yourself a year or so to get work experience and internship placements at companies or within industries that you think you may like, and you’ll soon find out which of those may be right (or not!) for you.
By the end of the 12 months, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what you want from your future. If you can find paid work experience, or supplement an unpaid internship with a part-time job, even better: Having a steady flow of money into your account lets you keep your independence.