Postgraduate opportunities

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When you reach graduation, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Where do you go from here? Are you ready to embark on a career? Or do you want to continue studying? There are many options available to you, and it’s a good idea to start thinking about your next move before you finish university or college. Take a look at your postgraduate options.

Going to work
The careers service at your university or college can help you explore the different types of career your course can lead to. Or if you’re studying a more vocational course that leans toward a specific job, the best way to gain experience and knowledge of the industry is to organise a work placement. An internship or some voluntary work can help develop practical skills, give you an insight into the job market and enhance your employability come graduation. Work experience can give you an edge in a competitive job market, too. Starting in July this year, the new Graduate Talent Pool will give UK graduates details of internship vacancies.
To begin your job hunt, start looking at vacancies or graduate recruitment schemes – it’s best to do this before you finish university, as some have early deadlines. Jobs are advertised a number of ways, on the internet, in national and local newspapers, in professional journals and specialist recruitment agencies. It’s all about knowing where to look. You can also visit your university or college careers service, where you can find help with CVs, applications and interview techniques, as well as the latest information on vacancies and placements, especially if you’re looking for a graduate training scheme. But not all jobs are advertised, and it sometimes pays to send applications to companies you’d particularly like to work for, and target your CV and covering letter to the sort of opportunity you’re interested in.

Graduate recruitment
There are two main types of graduate recruitment. Immediate vacancies recruit graduates when organisations need to fill a post, whereas forward or future vacancies recruit large numbers of graduates. Look out for graduate recruitment fairs, which take place across the country, for example, in London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Leeds, where you can expand your networks, learn industry information and gather information on companies. Large employers are traditionally key graduate recruiters. They tend to offer structured career development and there may be the opportunity to experience different areas of business within the company. A graduate scheme at a medium- or small-sized business may offer more variety of workload and flexibility of conditions but starting salaries can be slightly lower. Look online for application forms, as employers are now publishing graduate recruitment brochures exclusively on their websites.
The Times’ top five graduate employers in 2008 were: PricewaterhouseCoopers, which provides audit, advisory, and tax services, Deloitte, an accounting and consulting firm, KPMG, which also provides audit, tax and advisory services worldwide, Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company and the National Health Service (NHS). The sectors recruiting the most graduates in 2009 are accountancy (20.9% of total graduate jobs), the public sector (13.5%) and the Armed Forces (12.8%). Employers are reasonably optimistic about graduate recruitment in 2010, a quarter expect to take on more new recruits next year.

Postgraduate study
This appeals to people for a number of reasons, including gaining qualifications for a specific career, to help them stand out from a crowd when applying for jobs, taking the first step to becoming an academic or the satisfaction of studying a subject in depth. There are two main postgraduate study options: a taught course, such as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Sciences (MSc) which introduces new areas or explores in depth an area you’re currently studying. It takes one to two years full time study. A research course, such as a Doctorate (PhD) is very competitive to get on to, and involves research into a chosen topic. It takes three to four years full time study.

Setting up a business
Many universities or colleges offer support to students who want to start up their own business. This is likely to suit well-organised and self-motivated graduates who have a product or service they are confident they can sell or promote.

Where to go for help
Search for graduate jobs, postgraduate study and get advice on how to handle CVs, applications and interviews at the Prospects website – www.prospects.ac.uk
For more advice on postgraduate options, visit www.direct.gov.uk
You can research career options and get information on the latest career fairs and employer events at www.graduatetrainingschemes.com
For information on postgraduate study and choosing a course to suit you, visit www.hero.ac.uk or www.postgrad.hobsons.com

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