Should I work or study after graduation?

Apr 30, 2020

The decision of whether to work or study after graduation can be tricky. 

On one hand, you have just achieved your Bachelor’s degree after three or more years of university. Now you feel it is time to find a job. 

On the other, you may wish to pursue a Masters degree. This can open to the door to gaining further expertise, relocation and even a change in subject. 

However, we at Graduate Coach generally advise most graduates against doing a Masters degree straight after their undergraduate studies. 

Below let us detail why we are in favour of alternatively chasing a career path.

#1. A Masters degree is not as special anymore 

The popularity of postgraduate courses has led to its oversaturation.

In 2018 approximately 54% of those who took a Masters believed doing so improved their employability prospects. 

Whilst it certainly doesn’t do them any harm, it won’t necessarily help you stand out either. 

There is astounding competitiveness for any graduate job, with up to 650 applications per available position. Considering this, it is not a particular degree that will command attention, it will be relevant work experience.

And so whilst having a Masters is an accomplishment, it may not make you the most interesting job candidate. 

Once past the initial application, a would-be employer is looking for a personality, life achievements and grit. 

So going for a postgraduate degree is probably not separating you from good undergraduates. 

Considering all of this it would make more sense, from deciding to work or study after graduation, to work. 

#2. A Masters is time-consuming and expensive

The belief that it is difficult to get a job after university isn’t a reason to begin pursuing postgraduate studies.

Of course, there are some academic exceptions. Some specialist graduate roles may require a Masters degree in a specific subject.

An example of a graduate role that may require a Master’s degree is Economic consulting.

The facts surrounding the average Masters:

  • It can cost up to £7,946 which on top of your previous studies is a significant addition. 
  • Will take another year of precious time. 
  • Roughly 40% of all current graduates have completed some form of higher education qualifications. This, in turn, has caused it to lose its unique value.  
  • Not to mention stressful!

⚠️Also worth noting is going for a Masters under the current circumstances will not be value for money. 

Many tutorials will be online rather than face-to-face. It is because of this it would be worth looking at the job market.

#3. Work or study after graduation? Why work is beneficial

During university, it is essential that you upskill yourself as much as possible.

As detailed in Chris Davies’ The Student Book it is important you use time in between semesters to gain work experience. 

Gaining work experience is critical because:

  • An internship will make you business-aware (Communication, problem-solving, resilient). 
  • You will begin to develop a top CV that highlights your achievements. 
  • Somebody with employability skills is preferable to a person who can’t demonstrate any.

An undergraduate degree alongside the above can give any candidate as many credentials as a Masters graduate.

It’s crucial to discover the lines of work you enjoy doing. 

The biggest point of working at a company is if your interests lie there. Otherwise, in the long run, you will regret it!

By going straight into work you can: 

  • Attain what job you might like and don’t like
  • Acquire important working expertise which makes you transferable. 
  • Avoid losing over a year’s worth of this important time taking a Masters which may not boost your employability.

#4. Skill building is more invaluable than a Masters

Whilst technical knowledge is important, it is critical you can demonstrate emotional intelligence skills. 

Wondering what exactly that is? It is the critical abilities that are considered essential for employability. 

Instead of needing to decide to work or study after graduation, if you have prepared, work is the obvious choice.

The key employability skills: 

  • Communication & Literacy (Expressing yourself clearly in speech and text).
  • Problem Solving (Being creative in solution finding).
  • Resilience (An attitude built around bouncing back from a mishap or delay in progression).
  • Teamwork (This is not simply just being able to work with others. It is about being able to work with anyone and entwining your interpersonal skills with that). 
  • Organisation & Planning (Being able to present a positive personal image to anyone). 
  • Working on your own initiative (The enthusiasm to make things happen from your own willpower and self-reliance). 
Key employability skills chart

Read: Key employability skills for graduates

As outlined in The Student Book these employability skills are sought after by any graduate recruiter. They can be acquired during the course of university.

Acquiring any job after university may be hard, but by developing yourself beforehand it’ll give you the best chance. 

The best personal development can be by:

  • Paid work (It may not be relevant to the field you are interested in. Yet working at a shop or bar part-time can give you vital customer service skills and sharpen your basic numeracy).
  • Internships (unpaid or paid it does not matter, but they have become undeniably important in the process of getting a job. It is beneficial in the application stage you have done something relatable to the job for the recruiter).
  • University activity (What you may have done with a society, with the Student Union, volunteering, open days, writing etc).
  • Hobbies (Try and see how your interests can be relatable to the workspace and how this could be sought after).

If you can display that you individually have much of the above, you will be of interest to many recruiters!

The best way to exhibit all of this is naturally through a CV.

A good CV is invaluable and allows you to make the transition from university straight to the world of work.

Worried about having a CV but not enough experience to add to it? Check out this blog entry here, and equally start looking to get some!

work or study after graduation

#5. What type of work should I look at instead of a Masters?

When deciding to work or study after graduation, many people have chosen to do a Masters.

As aforementioned, they do this as they think it will boost their employability prospects.

But many of the increasingly popular graduate schemes simply demand a 2:1, some at a minimum a 2:2.

Furthermore, a graduate job doesn’t expect nor require further study from you. 

The actual value of a Masters is no different once you embark on a graduate scheme. You will be treated the same as everyone else.

If you actually NEED a Masters, more often than not your company will pay for your courses to get one. 

By your final year of university, you should have a good idea of what career you will embark on. 

There are plenty of options, but still aren’t sure what you might be interested in? Let us help widen your search.

In past blog entries, we at Graduate Coach have highlighted why technology and digital careers are becoming increasingly prominent. 

Equally, many prominent companies in traditional financial services offer plenty of graduate schemes. 

There are also many different recruitment companies who are looking for graduates to send to interviews.

We have found the best ones for you. These can help you advance into the interview stage of a job before you have even left university!

Instead of making a panic decision to do a Masters, consider what you can achieve instead over a year. 

This could be going and trying a job you aren’t sure of, taking an internship or apprenticeship. 

It is likely by the end of this you will have achieved invaluable experience that will serve you much better.

#6. Being confident in your plans

It is important going forward that you believe it whatever plan you set.

Leaving yourself in doubt or unsure of what path you’ve taken will damage your confidence going forward.

Remember you are far from the only one if you are worried about the end of university.

There is a lot of content and help available to make sure you succeed! 

Also, not everyone might go to work or take a Masters. You can always consider taking a gap year! Especially as once you begin working it’ll be difficult to fit one in.

Across a gap year, you can do your fair share of travelling. But also, make a plan for an approach to the job world. However, this won’t be possible this summer as a result of COVID-19

This article is particularly good at weighing up the benefits of a post-graduation gap year.

So, all-in-all, do not be worried about what is to come. It is a natural process and with a bit of preparation, you can tackle all of it!

If you think this article will help anyone in making a decision for the future, please share it below.

Deciding to work or study after graduation is not simple, but hopefully, this article made it so!

Written by Archie Everad

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