By Jensen Kirby, Gustavson external relations co-op student
Graduation in November is coming up fast for fourth-year BComs, and many students don’t have a career all lined up for after they cross the stage. But thankfully there’s no need to stress; there are many potential advantages to taking a break before launching into your career. At this year’s Beyond your BCom conference, an event for fourth-year BCom students at Gustavson, one workshop was focused on the topic of “breaking with intention”. Students were asked to think about how they could benefit from taking some time off and what that break might look like.
So, let’s take a look at what a few students are thinking about as they consider their post-graduation break plans. Their takeaways are interesting to keep in mind, no matter the stage of your career.
Many students are interested in travelling after graduation. This break can be a perfect opportunity to experience different parts of the world before committing to a working life that may not permit the flexibility needed for extensive travel. Travel can help you not only learn more about the world, but also about yourself and your values. It can bring you greater awareness and understanding of other cultures, and help you build social skills. It can also be a fun and much deserved way of celebrating the completion of your degree!
Student Matt Hall plans to take this route with his post-graduation break. “I am going to take a year off to travel and finish up some extra courses before starting my CPA next September. For me, it is really important that I take some time away from school before starting a long-term, full-time position,” he says.
Students also voiced a desire to relax and recharge before seriously pursuing their career. After graduation can be a great time to rest and engage in some self-care that may have been neglected while in school. It’s important to take care of your mental and physical health, and sometimes taking a break to spend time focusing on yourself and your relationships (and maybe bingeing a few shows on Netflix) is exactly what you need.
Thinking about business
Taking a break can also include planning your future business ventures. This may be an opportunity to work on a business plan or an idea you wish to pursue. Or, perhaps it’s a time when you can focus on meeting new people and expanding your network. Ideally, this can lead to a smooth transition into working life.
Ravien Sidhu, a fourth-year BCom student who attended the Beyond your BCom workshop, says of her break, “I want to use my time off to research the many different paths I can pursue and try to figure out which one I would like to further explore.”
After graduation can be a great time to pursue hobbies that you haven’t had time for during school, or maybe even to discover new ones you hadn’t had the chance to try previously. This can allow you to develop new skills and explore yourself in ways that might make you more employable in the future or give you a better understanding of what kind of work you want to do later on.
With all of these options, students at the Beyond your BCom workshop expressed similar worries and fears, mostly revolving around how to articulate to others why they’ve chosen to do something other than get a job immediately after graduation. Robyn Stalkie, experiential learning officer at Gustavson and one of the workshop facilitators, has some advice: embrace your decision rather than trying to justify it.
Many students walked away from this workshop feeling comforted by the fact that so many others were in a similar situation. They also felt a bit more confident about their own decision to take a break after graduation. “It was nice talking with other students about their indecision moving forward with their career path, and I think a lot of the students came away with a feeling of optimism about the future and some new plans for what they want to do after graduation,” says Matt.
The key takeaway from this workshop? Own your break! Be proud of the experiences you will gain, the benefits you will get out of taking a purposeful pause. Whether you’re travelling, engaging in self-care or pursuing other projects, feel confident about your choice to do so. As Robyn and her co-facilitator Melissa Doyle put it, everything that you do is part of your story, your personal brand, and makes you the person that you are.
Workshop participant Julia Macartney says she picked up a useful line in this workshop to tell anyone who asks her about her plans following graduation: “I am exploring opportunities!”