It’s a question which can leave any outgoing third year feeling a little bit anxious. It’s one often asked when at a social gathering, where the friendly next door neighbour who hasn’t seen you since you were five and used to give you cookies after school is wondering how you’ve been. What’s next after university? It’s something which sort of carries some flashbacks with it. Third years like myself are transported mentally to when we hand in the last assignment, face a new chapter in our lives, and start to think about what happens next. Perhaps you had an idea at this point of studying, but regardless of that, here are some tips to plan your next steps which should help you answer that ‘what next’ question. In my case, I’m always someone that likes to keep busy. Any moment not spent working on something is time spent staring at the ceiling silently panicking, so first and foremost, you should always have something on the go – the most important one being job applications. Even before I finished my studies, I had stumbled upon a few internships and trainee schemes at national newspaper outlets (I am a journalism student). In both instances, I got to the next stage after submitting my application whilst waiting to hear back from other organisations. I was waiting to hear back from people at the same time that I was applying to others. This ties into my second point, which is to use job search sites and contacts to your advantage. With regards to the first part of this tip, social media is great for keeping tabs on people with whom you worked on placements. It’s also great for finding automated Twitter profiles which share new job adverts daily. I have profiles such as Gorkana Journalist Jobs and Mediargh to thank for some of the roles I’ve applied for in the past. Lastly, make the most of the university’s careers service. For me, it was only in my third and final year that I really got stuck into the opportunities that are provided by the Careers and Employability Team here at Lincoln. From freelance opportunities to talks from industry representatives to mock assessment centres, they all gave me an idea of what direction I could go in after graduating. They even have a timeline on their website and their Cover Letter compilation tool has helped me out many a time. So, how do you answer the big ‘what next’ question? It’s all about having a plan, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be employment. You may think that a Master’s may be the next best step or further training. The Careers Service is available for another year after you graduate, so they will be able to help you, and there are lots of other organisations out there which will be able to give you some food for thought. After that, it’s just a case of remembering that plan so that you can answer that ‘what next’ question whenever somebody asks!