Many students are concerned about their employment prospects after they graduate. The job market is competitive and applicants need to stand out.
Most grads start looking for a job as soon as they're out of school. Others might take a gap year to figure out their next move. If being self-employed is more your thing, consider starting your own business or exploring entrepreneurial ventures. A fourth option for graduates is to hit the books (again).
Pursuing a post-graduate degree can do more than just boost your potential earnings. It could be your path to happiness.
Why pursue an advanced degree?
An advanced degree can be useful or even necessary for certain careers, such as law and medicine. Before you commit, furthering your education can also be expensive and time-consuming. A master's degree can take up to 2 years to finish; a PhD could take you up to 8. Despite the amount of time it could consume, it can also be one of the best things you ever do.
Loving student life and not feeling ready for the ''real world'' may not be reason enough to further your studies, but here are some good reasons why you should.
1. Buy yourself some time
There's no shame at all in not know what comes next. It may seem like everyone else knows what they want to do after graduating, but that's not always true. If you have the resources (and the energy – university can be tough!), continuing on with your studies might help you gain clarity on where your interests and passions lie. Take advantage of your university's career counselling department, assess your strengths, gain some experience, learn more and network while you're at it.
2. Follow your passion
Fantastic if you've found something that brings you real joy! Unless you pursue a career in academia and can stay in school forever, now's the time to lose yourself in what you love, for hours on end. Your real-world career may end up be fulfilling, but it may also be bogged down by the mundane, like paperwork and office politics. One of the co-founders of positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, coined the concept of ''flow'': a state of mind and increased productivity where you're so immersed in what you're doing that time seems to speed up.1 Go with the flow and study what you love.
3. Increase your earnings potential
A 4-year degree will earn you more money than a high school diploma and an advanced degree will earn you about 20% more than an undergraduate degree.2 If you're pursuing a career in business, education, healthcare or STEM subjects, a master's degree will most likely have a positive impact on your career earnings. Some of the best-paying jobs come as a result of pursuing post-graduate degrees like the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Engineering Management, Master of Science in Finance and Master of Science in Computer Science. Globally, healthcare jobs requiring post-graduate degrees are in very high demand, now more than ever. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nurses can expect an astounding 45% increase in employment from 2019 to 2029. 3
4. Make yourself more employable
While not necessarily true for all jobs, having a master's degree will generally make you more employable. Some estimates show that more than 25% of employers now expect candidates to have earned a master's degree for jobs that previously only required an undergraduate degree.
These are the top 5 "soft skills" employers are looking for now4:
- Communication skills
- Analytical skills
- Customer service skills
- Problem-solving skills
Post-COVID, we're also seeing a need for time management skills, resilience and flexibility.
Looking for work or about to graduate? Here's 9 things you should do before you graduate from university.
5. Change your career
More and more, especially for routine and repetitive jobs, companies are relying on machines to do our jobs. Some economists estimate that over 40% of the jobs lost since the COVID-19 pandemic will never return, and half of us will need to "reskill" in the next 5 years. Even back in 2015, a report suggested that we were being trained for jobs, two-thirds of which would be obsolete in a decade. 5 Well that decade came faster than we expected.
If you're a postal worker, travel agent or cashier, you might want to consider going back to school to learn a few new skills. Jobs that still require a human touch, like counseling, writing, legal work and teaching, are harder for a machine to replicate.
You might just feel like a change of scenery through studying and working abroad. Some countries, like the UK and Australia, offer attractive post-study work visas for graduates looking to stay on and work.
Heading abroad for your studies?
We've created a series of checklists to get you organised, starting with a checklist for the United States. Looking into an international education in Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia? We have checklists for them, too.
Funding your further education
We know that a higher education can cost a lot of money and it can help to talk to someone about your education plan. Learn more about our HSBC overseas account openings and how our international services can help you. If you have your heart set on following your academic passions but are wondering how you're going to fund them, we can help you with that too.