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Feeling anxious about choosing your Postgraduate career?

Written by Chloe Acland | Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Careers natural health networking

It's natural to feel anxious about entering the workforce after years of study. Some students look forward to graduation with relief, feeling as if they are about to finish a marathon. Others see the finish line as a looming pressure to decide their postgraduate career. We all want to have our ducks lined up in a row. So when you're in your last semester of study and still have no idea what you want to do, it's easy to feel panicked and overwhelmed. Thankfully, as a student, you are in the perfect environment to be supported in this seemingly impossible decision.

1. Talk to your clinical supervisors

They know your strengths and weaknesses

During your clinical subjects your supervisors are your greatest support and asset. As nerve-racking as it is to have them watching over your shoulder and assessing your performance, this is actually a blessing in disguise, because they are able to identify your strengths and weaknesses from an outsider's point of view. During your supervision they may be able to see that you have fantastic people skills and would make an exceptional practitioner. Or they may observe that you have a deep knowledge of therapeutic products and would suit a role at a bioceuticals company. Alternatively, you may write high quality evidence-based assignments and would thrive as a researcher or written communications specialist. Asking them to honestly evaluate your skills and give constructive feedback, will give you a good idea of the type of industry you would be suited to.

They have real work experience

Ask your supervisors about how they got started in the industry. What was their experience? What were their fears and struggles? How did they overcome these obstacles? Encourage your supervisor to give you some tricks of the trade. Their perspectives are going to be unique and inspiring. They may even know of jobs suited to you or help introduce you to a like-minded colleague.

2. Connect with friends

It's easy to think that you're the only one in your cohort that feels anxious about choosing a postgraduate pathway. It’s likely you’re not. Share how you are feeling with your friends and you may be surprised that they are experiencing the same struggles. Or they may have a clear view of what they want to do and be able to share with you unique opportunities you may not have considered. Either way, connecting with friends will benefit not only your career aspirations, but also support you both mentally and emotionally.

3. Discover Career Services and Resources

You’ve spent the past few years sourcing, researching, and applying important knowledge regarding the health industry, why not take the same approach to finding your dream career? Endeavour’s careers service provides an abundance of resources that will help you with employment preparation, connect you with jobs in the industry and broaden your horizons with career profiles. Make the most of the resources at your fingertips. Remember knowledge is power!

4. Engage with a careers counsellor

If only there was a support person that specialises in helping students choose a successful career path and practically prepare them for the required steps post-graduation? Well, there is! A career counsellor’s express purpose is to support you in these important decisions and provide the resources to help you achieve your goals. Not only will they help you brainstorm the different career options, but also help you identify other aspirations such as work-life balance, personal and financial goals. They will guide you in taking a holistic look at what you want from a career and provide strategic steps to achieving those milestones.

5. Attend the career fairs: Networking is key

Careers fairs are one of the most fun ways to discover your future career. Industry specialists, businesses and organisations set up interactive stalls and allow you to ask questions and take free samples. Whether you are deciding on what association to join, where to source bioceutical products or which companies offer educational and postgraduate pathways; career fairs allow you to network and create connections that can open up opportunities in the future.

6. Apply for work experience and internships

A fantastic way to experience the reality of working in a particular career is to gain real life experience. Some companies and businesses offer internships with structured programs while others allow you to shadow a qualified practitioner and gain practical work experience. Some of these opportunities are advertised, however you can also approach a business or clinic privately to ask whether you could volunteer your time in exchange for some mentoring. You never know, they may see your value and offer you a paid position.

7. Take a break

Graduating from a degree is an amazing accomplishment! You have given a huge amount of energy, mental space, and time to completing one of the greatest achievements of your life. Your body and mind are likely fatigued and in need of some much-needed rest and recuperation. You deserve it!

Consider taking a few weeks or months to unwind after the pressure of handing in assignments and completing your clinical subjects. Reconnect with your passions and dreams that may have been buried under the anxiety of choosing a postgraduate path. Spend time reflecting on the highs and lows of the past few years of study. Identify the areas that you excelled in and filled you with joy and excitement.

Mental health support

Stress on the mind can manifest in many ways. Anxiety and depression are common symptoms that can inhibit you from moving forward. Speaking with a professional psychologist or counsellor and connecting with the student wellbeing and safety services can help you to identify unhealthy mental barriers that may be causing you to feel anxious about choosing your postgraduate career.

8. Be flexible and open to new experiences

It’s important to realise that the first job after your degree may not be your dream job. That’s okay! Use this time to experiment and gain experience. Bad experience is just as valuable as good experience. Discovering what you don’t like will direct you towards the roles and pathways that you do like. Being open to different opportunities can help you stumble across the career of your dreams!

Final thoughts…

Graduating from your degree is a momentous occasion! Take a moment to celebrate. It’s normal and natural to feel anxious about what awaits you on the other side. There is no rush to decide, so take your time. Enjoy the process and have fun experimenting. Know that you are not alone. You have the support of the students and college journeying alongside you.

Chloe Acland

Chloe Acland is a health and wellbeing writer with a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) from Endeavour College of Natural Health. Living on the beautiful Sunshine Coast with her husband and young son; Chloe is either digging in her medicinal herb garden, culturing a community of fermentations on her kitchen bench, or writing educational articles on a range of naturopathic topics.

Chloe writes The Ginger Journal newsletter, where she discusses healthy habits, foodie themes and book reviews (checkout the fermentation cookbook series).

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