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Your Career

June 1, 2022

So… What’s Next? Shaping Your Career Path After Graduation

Whether you’ve just graduated from high school, college, or university, it’s normal to feel a bit nervous about what comes next. For high school students, the worry may revolve around choosing a career (and the right program for that career) at such a young age. For post-secondary grads, the concern may centre on getting a job that will help pay off student debt while trying to save for a mortgage and any other short- or long-term goals you may have for this next stage of life.

Feeling anxious about what’s next? Want to make sure you’re set for the future? Read on for some common paths to take after graduation – plus a list of pros and cons for each one.

Taking time off to travel

You may feel unprepared to invest in a 4-year program at the young age of 17, or maybe you want a bit of life experience before you start applying for jobs straight out of college or university. Whatever the case, taking this opportunity to travel and see the world may be your best bet at this time in your life. So, what are your options?


Gap years tend to be more popular with high school graduates who want the opportunity to see the world – and grow – before making such a huge life choice, like What career path do I want to pursue?

You can immerse yourself in a different culture, try new foods, meet local people, and take part in local activities and traditions.You may become homesick or experience ”culture shock.”
You can learn a new language, making you more employable in future.You may only pick up a few words/phrases, and not know enough to add this language to your resume. 
You can learn how to budget first-hand.Travel is expensive – you may end up spending a lot of your post-education savings on this one trip.
You will have the opportunity to grow in ways you never thought possible.Your experiences may result in you feeling ”different” from your friends upon your return.

Want to volunteer abroad? You may want to take time to give back to those in need and travel at the same time. If you choose to go this route, be sure to check if you are eligible for Serenia Life’s member benefit that helps cover some of the costs of this sort of “trip with a mission.”


For many recent graduates, the thought of job hunting can feel insurmountable – especially when you may not have the relevant experience to apply for the job of your dreams. So why not feed your travel bug while getting some great work experience at the same time?

Over the past few decades, teaching English overseas has become a popular option for twenty-somethings pondering What’s next? The good news is that TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification can be done virtually or through an in-person course you can complete in a few short weeks or months.

While the pros and cons are very similar to those you may encounter if you do a gap year, the biggest difference in this case is the opportunity to make some pretty good money (pro). However, it can be challenging to save when you want to travel more and experience this whole new world while you’re away from home (con).

Feel like you’re part of a ”family” rather than an employee at a formal workplace. It can be tricky to draw the line between colleague and friend – always err on the side of professional when you’re unsure.
You can learn and grow as the company does – if you’ve been with a successful startup since its early years, you may end up climbing the ladder more quickly than anticipated. If the company folds, you’ll have to look for a new job.
So many fun perks – like pool tables, beer fridges, company getaways, and more! Sometimes this can mean that the salary is a bit lower, or that workplace benefits aren’t that great.
From flex time to more flexibility in your role, you may enjoy the less structured atmosphere of a startup. (Not to mention a much more casual dress code!) You may be expected to work a lot of overtime, and take on roles and responsibilities outside of your expertise. (That casual dress code may include “wearing many hats.”)


If you prefer structure, stability, and security, an organization that’s been around for many decades may be the right choice for you. Just remember that companies with history can sometimes be a bit slower to move into the future.

Pay is typically quite competitive, and you may even be able to negotiate a better offer. You may move up the ladder more slowly than you might at a startup – so your pay may start high, then possibly plateau.
If the organization has been around for a long time, you likely don’t have to worry about job loss due to downsizing or the company going under. There may be an expectation that you stick around for a long time too – not as desirable for the younger generations of workers.
Invaluable workplace benefits – like comprehensive health coverage, travel insurance, life insurance, a pension, and more! There may be fewer fun perks around the office. And don’t forget – if you leave this job, your benefits don’t come with you. That’s why it’s important to purchase your own life insurance, to act as income replacement if the unexpected were to happen.
Work-life balance! A more structured environment means you know what to expect – there are very few surprises when it comes to your work hours, your role, vacation time, etc. The atmosphere may feel very corporate, impersonal, or ”stuffy.” There may be a large age gap between you and your colleagues.

Life insurance as income replacement? Yes, that’s thing. Learn more

Perks versus benefits

While many companies offer a nice selection of both perks and benefits, you’ll soon learn that some lean more towards one over the other. A job offer that comes with a lot of fun perks may be trying to make up for lower salaries, fewer benefits, or higher expectations when it comes to overtime. In contrast, employers that offer more traditional benefits are typically those that have been around long enough to offer employees something that provides more value in the long term.

Now depending on your age and stage of life, a beer fridge and a pool table may seem a lot more inviting than a pension plan and life insurance. We get it – we were twenty-somethings once too! And therein lies the secret: It all comes down to where you’re at in life and what your short- and long-term goals happen to be.

While you’re young, single, and just starting out, a startup with awesome perks and an average salary may be just what you’re looking for. But once you find yourself married, saving for a house, expecting a baby (or all three), you’ll be looking for a position where the ”perks” benefit you and your family financially, hence opting for a job that offers workplace benefits.

Remember, it’s not just about the salary. So if you’re weighing the pros and cons of two or more job offers (lucky you!), be sure to consider the entire package – look for flex time, vacation & sick days, health coverage, a pension, and whatever else is important to you – before signing that contract.

Happy job hunting!

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