Navigating Post-Graduation Paths with a Focus on Future-Proof Careers
Navigating Post-Graduation Paths with a Focus on Future-Proof Careers
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Embracing post-graduation uncertainty

You have just graduated. Those you left behind have been exciting years, weren’t they? With ups and downs, perhaps, but all in all fun. The last exam is now behind you, and so is the final dissertation. 

Good, great, now what? 

We all focus so much on graduation, reminding ourselves and others of the fundamental importance of graduating from college. A “key milestone”, as they say. But we often neglect to recount the after-graduation, with that scary but fascinating mix of excitement and uncertainty. 

Millions of young people every year, as their academic journey ends, begin the daunting task of carving out a career path. In 2022 alone, approximately 4.3 million students graduated from tertiary education in the European Union. In the United States, 4.09 million higher education degrees were awarded in the same year. This figure included 1.9 million students who earned bachelor’s degrees and 989,000 graduates with an associate degree.

Millions of students, each with their own story, but all alike when faced with this question: “What’s next?” 

The answers to this question, however, again vary from person to person. Some will respond that job-seeking is the next challenge, and others will prefer to spend some more time in education or training.

Who is right, and who is wrong? 

Neither and both, of course. This is not even the right question to ask. We actually have a better one: how do you deal with post-graduation uncertainty? We will share four tips to answer it. Follow us.


First tip: post-graduation paths vary widely, and this is just fine

We just said that post-graduation paths vary widely across countries, people and sectors. Some graduates dive straight into employment, others pursue further education, while others consider gap years for personal growth or travel. 

Of course, each of these choices has its own advantages and disadvantages. Each path has its unique challenges and opportunities, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. 

So here is our first piece of advice: forget what everyone else is doing and concentrate on what works for you. 

Let us see your options in more detail:

  • For many, the post-graduation answer lies in specialised courses that serve as a bridge to (hopefully) a promising career. In 2022, there were 18.5 million tertiary education students in the EU. Among them, 59% were studying for bachelor’s degrees, 29.2% for master’s degrees, 3.6% for doctoral degrees, and 7.7% were enrolled in short-cycle tertiary courses. Be careful; however, the geographical distribution of these young people is uneven. The highest share of students studying for bachelor’s degrees was in Greece (84.8%), and the highest share for master’s degrees was in Cyprus (46.4%). Germany had the highest number of doctoral students (5.7% of their tertiary students)​.

  • Others, on the other hand, aim to find a job immediately or an internship, possibly abroad, to “cut their teeth” and grow professionally. In 2022, the employment rate for recent graduates aged 20-34 in the European Union was 82.4%. However, here again, there were significant variations between countries. The highest employment rates were in Luxembourg (93.4%), the Netherlands (92.9%), and Germany (92.2%), while the lowest was in Italy (65.2%) and Greece (66.1%)​. Speaking of going abroad, did you know that in Europe alone, there are 11 million European citizens living and working permanently in a country other than the one they were born in? A large proportion of them moved after graduation, never to return home again.

  • Your options aren’t finished yet. You could decide to travel, to take a break from studying and working, and thus expand your wealth of experience. Many people do it, you know? These people may perhaps be a little behind in terms of integration into the working environment, but they will certainly have a plus in terms of the capability to nurture empathic relationships. We have explained already how important empathy is for your career and leadership. In 2023, it was estimated that across Europe, over 230,000 young people between 18 and 25 years old embarked on some form of gap year break​. The primary reasons for taking a gap year include gaining independence (41% of students), taking a break from studying (28%), and self-growth. Interestingly, 80% of students believed that their gap year added to their employability​.

  • Or, as a last option, you can consider volunteering at an interesting organisation to gain unique experience and transferrable skills in a less conventional way. You might have heard of the European Solidarity Corps, for instance. This program focuses on engaging young people aged 18 to 30 in various solidarity activities, including tackling societal challenges, supporting vulnerable people, and contributing to positive change in communities. The program has been increasingly focusing on areas such as climate action, the environment, and nature protection.

Is the point clear to you? The question is not what you choose to do. The point is to do it, following your ambitions and inclinations. In other words, regardless of your decision, ensure you consider your interests and options when choosing a post-graduation path to ensure it aligns with your passion and benefits your career.


Second advice: now that you have gained some experience, it is time to specialise

OK, let’s say we are now one year away from graduation. Some of you have been travelling, some of you have been doing an internship, some of you have just finished a training course or a volunteering experience. You have all taken a step forward. Congratulations, but now it’s time to make the next move, and you can’t go wrong. 

Now that you have become familiar with the market and its dynamics, our second piece of advice goes as such: in a market where adaptability and specialised skills are prized, specialising your skills will offer you a compelling advantage. 

Think about it: 

  • To begin with, specialised skills will provide you with focused knowledge and practical skills that are immediately applicable in the workplace. For example, a training course in digital marketing can equip a graduate with the latest strategies in online advertising and analytics, a skill highly sought after in many industries. Speaking of which, did you know that we at Talent Garden specialise in providing our students (of all ages and professional backgrounds) with courses and programs focused on gaining skills in the tech sector, including digital marketing, design, data and security, project management and business innovation?

  • Specialised skills will put you in a privileged position when it comes to handling complex challenges at work. LinkedIn’s research highlights management, communication, and customer service as the 2024 top in-demand skills. Moreover, management and communication are especially crucial in complex, dispersed workforces due to hybrid and remote work models.

  • Not just that, specialised skills would also help you to better navigate the transformations of the job market. As we recently wrote about automation and the job market, the World Economic Forum predicts a transformation in the job market, with 83 million jobs lost and 69 million new ones created over the next 5 years. As of 2024, this shift emphasises the growing importance of skills like creative thinking, self-awareness, programming, and big data. For this very reason, Talent Garden has developed over the years an offer in courses that are meant to reinforce resilience and adaptability in our students. In other words, we do not just teach you new skills, and we teach you skills that will make you a flexible and adaptable worker capable of navigating an ever-changing job market. 

  • Continuing our list, specialised training will enhance your employability. We already said that analytical thinking, management, and digital literacy are among the most in-demand skills that enhance employability. These skills are critical alongside soft skills like creative thinking and technological skills. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, in 2024, 94% of employees will stay at a company longer if it invests in their learning and development. This underscores the value of continuous learning and specialisation in career advancement.

  • And, not to be underestimated, specialised skills in fields like marketing, data analysis, and software development may help you earn high salaries. For example, as a data scientist, you might end up earning an average of $152,074, or as a DevOps engineer, an average of $123,122 in the United States.

Specialisation, in short, is your secret weapon to reduce post-graduation uncertainties and make your path less bumpy. Before moving on, however, there is one last important thing to say: specialising does not mean giving up your curiosities or missing chances that you had not considered. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The more experienced you are in one area, the more efficient you will be in your work, and thus, the more time you will be able to carve out for yourself to delve into other topics, making you eclectic professionals and interesting people.


Third advice: did you consider a future-proof career?

If you have trained and you’re becoming specialised in a topic, then you should also have matured some good understanding of the drivers that are moving the market and in consequence the most promising careers. 

But, let’s face it, it is not always easy to get your bearings. Sometimes, the unknowns outweigh the certainties. That is why we have a third tip for you: invest early on in careers with the highest future potential. Take it as a survival challenge, literally. There is no doubt about it: certain careers stand out for their growth potential and relevance.

We at Talent Garden have selected a few of them primarily with a view to 2024, which is just around the corner, but also focusing on the development possibilities of each. The jobs we have identified as long-lasting are also the core focus of our teaching activities. As we just said, our task is to create communities of individuals who engage in learning throughout their professional lives, at regular intervals. In order to do so, we are especially focussed on those topics (and related careers) that are most promising in terms of resisting future shocks and changes. 

Curious about these jobs?
Here they are:

1. Digital marketing. As the digital landscape expands, so does the need for savvy digital marketers. The United States Bureau of Labour Statistics, for instance, projects a 10% growth in advertising, promotions, and marketing manager positions from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. The digital marketing industry is experiencing robust growth everywhere in the world, with a compound annual growth rate of 9%. The global digital advertising and marketing market, valued at $350 billion in 2020, is projected to reach $786.2 billion by 2026. This growth trajectory is indicative of the increasing importance and investment in digital marketing across businesses. For this reason, the courses we have on this topic at Talent Garden are designed to provide participants with a 360° perspective, from strategy, content marketing to growth hacking and more.

2. Tech professions. We are on the safe side here. Tech roles, including software developers, data scientists, and cybersecurity experts, are in high demand. The United States Bureau of Statistics predicts a 22% growth in software developer jobs from 2020 to 2030. Or take specifically the case of Artificial Intelligence (AI) developers, who specialise in building AI functionality into software applications, we know they are becoming increasingly important and will be even more so in 2024. With AI being a part of many daily-used applications such as smart assistants, chatbots, self-driving cars, and more, the relevance of AI developers is higher than ever and is expected to continue growing. Another interesting example is cybersecurity analysts, who are essential for protecting organisations from cyber threats. Consider that the demand for cybersecurity personnel and skills grew by 43% between April 2021 and April 2022, and it is expected to continue on the same path for 2024. This is much higher than the growth in demand across other occupations, which was only 18%. 

3. Product Management. With the rise of tech companies, skilled product managers are increasingly valuable. Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America for 2023 and 2024 ranks product manager as one of the top careers based on job satisfaction, salary, and job openings. We at Talent Garden offer intensive, full-time, part-time or blended training to give you the skills needed to take a creative idea to a product launch and beyond. We help you enter the world of Product Strategy, Lean Canvas, Prototyping, Product Launch and Go to Market. 

4. UX/UI Design. The emphasis on user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design in product development is growing. LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs Report ranks UX/UI design among the top rapidly emerging. If you want to know more on this topic, we wrote about it recently, pinpointing how it impacts creativity, innovation and business growth. At Talent Garden, we provide our students the opportunity to become experts in both UX and UI Design. After having attended our courses, they will master all aspects of design, from graphics, interaction and human-centred design and will also be able to use the most in-demand tools like Figma while building an impressive portfolio. 

5. Human Resources: the strategic role of HR in organisations is more critical than ever. The United States National Bureau of Statistics forecasts a 9% growth in HR manager positions from 2020 to 2030. The dedicated courses on HR provided by Talent Garden help our participants to master employer branding, HR analytics, employee experience and become leaders in the field. 

No one here is saying that automation will not affect any of these sectors. However, what we are saying is that these professions are showing a capacity for growth and adaptation that other professions do not have. In short, they show a better resistance to the wear and tear of time. That is why you should think about it.

Fourth advice: make yourself part of a network

Our fourth piece of advice plays on the long term. Tiny spoiler: of all the tips we have shared, this is the one that will take the longest but also the one that will give you the greatest feedback. It is about that: invest in growing and nurturing a network.

Creating and keeping networks alive: that’s what we at Talent Garden are good at. To workers of all ages and levels of professional maturity, we offer access to an open context – of learning, deepening and comparison – where they can improve their skills. For companies, we offer support to intercept and capitalise on the transformations coming from an increasingly mobile workforce. And we do this through an international network: our community (made of startups, agencies, corporate labs, freelancers, investors, media companies and students) of over 45,000 innovators move across an expanded network of campuses. These physical and virtual spaces are home for ideas and collaborations to thrive. 

Does it work? Yes, and do you know why? Because we are aware that:

  • 85% of jobs are filled through networking, highlighting the power of building relationships for career advancement. When hiring, recruiters have the incredibly tough task of picking one person from hundreds of applicants. Choosing somebody they know and have interacted with before is an easier decision than selecting someone they’ve never met or only met through a brief interview. For those who want to be prepared for job markets in 2024 and beyond, joining a network like the one we have at Talent Garden may turn out to be your winning move. 

  • More than 95% of professionals say that face-to-face meetings are necessary for business. This is because in-person networking offers more accurate first impressions than online meetings. We at Talent Garden offer post-graduates access to industry insights, job opportunities, and valuable mentorships that are often not available through traditional job search methods. In doing this, we help them to operate efficiently in the job market. 

  • According to this AudienceProject study on app and social media usage, 84% of people use LinkedIn to strengthen their professional network, and their number is expected to increase in 2024. We at Talent Garden realised that a long time ago, and we are now investing in courses and networking opportunities focussed on social media and digital topics.

The world is changing fast, and we are the first to insist on being mindful of it. Yet some things don’t change. They actually get stronger: networking is one of these. It is so much so that we at Talent Garden consider it to be valuable advice for everyone, not just recent graduates, and we have made it the central point of our business models.


In conclusion: graduate and conquer

The post-graduation journey, though uncertain, is full of potential. By embracing specialised training, staying attuned to the evolving job market, and investing in networking with mindful professionals, graduates can position themselves for success in future-proof careers. 

Remember our four tips:

  1. First, forget what everyone else is doing and concentrate on what works for you. Ensure you consider your interests and options when choosing a post-graduation path to ensure it aligns with your passion and benefits your career.

  2. Second, in a market where adaptability and specialised skills are prized, specialising your skills will offer you a compelling advantage. The more experienced you are in one area, the more efficient you will be in your work, and thus, the more time you will be able to carve out for yourself to delve into other topics, making you eclectic professionals and interesting people.

  3. Third, invest early on in careers with the highest future potential. Following your dreams is of fundamental importance, but honestly, there are professions that show a capacity for growth and adaptation that other professions do not have. So, why not try to match your ambitions and desires with higher chances to progress in a competitive market?

  4. Fourth, and finally, build up a network of like-minded professionals and make use of it all times you are in need of advice and mentorship. This is where joining a network like the one we offer at Talent Garden could turn out to be a winning move.

With these tips, a pinch of initiative, and a little courage, uncertainty will be just a memory. Are you ready to graduate and conquer?

Article updated on: 21 November 2023
Talent Garden
Written by
Talent Garden, Digital Skills Academy

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