Life after university: A graduate survival guide
So, you’re graduating this year. Congratulations! You survived university student life; from sleep deprivation by pulling all-nighters to existing on a diet of pot noodles and pints of beer, you managed to make it out alive. So what now? The summer after graduation can be one of the most freeing but equally overwhelming times in your life especially when you don’t have much lined up. You’ve worked hard to complete your degree, and your first summer finally outside the education system is a time you should take advantage of.
Maybe you’ve been planning to take a gap year abroad for a while but the thought of having to find a graduate job or paying off your student loan plagues you. Perhaps you’re second-guessing whether taking time off is a good idea while other recent graduates jump straight into the job market. This feeling is completely natural. With the extra free time, it’s easy to stretch yourself too thin and overwhelm yourself of the paths that you can take. The possibilities are endless and the permutations of what you can do can result in a lot of pressure. With options such as travel, taking time off before getting into the workforce, or going back for a post-graduate degree in graduate school, it can be daunting. It's important not to resort to “Netflix & chill” mode while the summer passes. Despite the rising sense of panic you might have, seeing other graduates adventuring around the world or having snagged the dream graduate job or internship, you can transform your post graduate summer to a productive and enjoyable one. Below is our guide on how to survive the post-graduation blues and be on the path to successfully securing a graduate job position!
Think it through
Develop a plan as to whether you will be entering the job search in pursuit of a graduate job right off the bat, going back to school for a postgraduate degree or taking a gap year. Use your time wisely and create your own structure and schedule in your job search that suits your plan best and set some goals and dates when you want things done by. Most importantly, don’t panic! It’s easy to see everyone do their thing and think you have to do the same. Everyone is on their own path, don’t compare your graduate journey to others. Instead plan out your journey , set it into motion and adapt along the way.
Be like a survivalist & always be prepared
Like a true survivalist, a graduate needs to be prepared. Instances such as last minute interviews and phone interviews can catch you off guard but having prepped for either case can increase your self-confidence and allow you to do well in either circumstance. Make sure to have one or two go-to interview outfits on hand and be sure they are laundered and ready to go whenever you get a call to come in for an interview. Prep and update your CV and LinkedIn upon graduation and have a peer look at it for a second opinion. As you prep, go over your CV so your completely aware of all of your work experience and practice mock interviews to come off confident during your interview. Preparation helps build confidence. Prepare a general document with regularly asked interview questions with the appropriate answers and use this as review as you prepare for interviews. Doing this means you can put a bigger focus on the company and tailor your answers as you are already acquainted with the basic interview questions as the interview approaches.
Broaden your horizons
Educational experience is wonderful, but life experience is just as crucial. After spending all your former years in the school system it’s important to broaden your horizons, explore your city, different places, experience different cultures, lifestyles, travel and try new things. Doing these things makes you more resilient and have the ability to adapt better than your competition who might only be comfortable with a homogenous situation. In our highly digital world, it’s important to stay resilient and adapt to new technologies and new ways of doing things and you can do this by stepping out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself and by expanding your perspective. Often graduates approach the job market with a minimal understanding of the array of jobs available to them, developing the ability to look beyond what you know or are comfortable with may surprise you making a whole new range of opportunities available to you.
Develop your skills & build your experience
Your education doesn’t end upon graduation. Learn new things, take a class or some workshops on a skill you want to improve. Figure out the skills you need to be hired for your dream graduate job and hone those skills. Often a skill that are not considered by graduates is the ability to perform well in interviews. In this situation, the more interviews you do the better you become at interviewing. If your plan is to have a graduate job by the end of the summer, take advantage of every opportunity to interview even if it isn’t your dream role to make you a better interviewee, normalize the process and get rid of the jitters when it comes time to an interview for your dream job.
Building skills and honing pre-existing skills increases your working proficiency. Giving yourself tasks, such as building a portfolio or taking a class results in situations where your skills have to put into effect which may be favorably looked on by a recruiter. Many graduates consider taking on a side hustle to increase their skill level making them a more competitive candidate for a role or just to earn some extra income while navigating the post-graduation waters. Perhaps you can monetize on a talent or skill you have that is in demand putting you at a financial and experiential advantage.
At every major highpoint in our lives such as moving on from high school to university or moving to a new city, people constantly reinvent themselves. For graduates, the time following graduation is a great time for reinvention into a working professional. When entering the working world, graduates are considered adults capable of taking care of their own affairs and presenting themselves in a favorable and professional manner. Take this time to revamp your wardrobe from sweatpants to more professional attire. If you've been putting off any physical activities because of a busy student life now is the time to get back into it and stay in shape, which will boost your self-confidence and keep you motivated in other elements of your life such as your job search.
You’ve pushed yourself in university to get to where you are now as a graduate and you deserve to treat yourself! Depending on your situation, you may want to take some time off before entering the workforce to recalibrate after a demanding university stretch. If you feel burnt out, it’s wise to take a break before getting back into the grind for your graduate job. It’s okay to dedicate some time for yourself and celebrate your graduation victory. Maybe binge watch that TV show that you missed out during your undergrad or take a trip but make sure you don’t get carried away and look back on your time as unproductive and spent entirely on the couch.
Upon graduation, a lot of graduates have to come to terms with changes to their banking after the bank deems that they are no longer a student. These changes can result in being charged for certain accounts, different interest rates, and a load of other budget and banking issues you will have to think about. You won’t be given the luxury of interest-free overdraft or no-fee student accounts. With time your accounts will be converted to normal accounts. With looming loans, credit card bills and lack of money to budget, it makes creating a budget especially important. Calculate your expenses from rent, food, cell phone bills and transportation. Pair this with your structured plan, set goals and a have a general idea of how you’ll cover expenses, pay off your loans and save a bit in case of emergencies.
Have a support system and network
The time after graduation is especially hard. This is when having a good support system is crucial. Reach out to family and friends for support and advice when you are struggling or overwhelmed. They can provide valuable feedback or will act as a good sounding board for you to consider your options. Networking is also crucial as this may catapult you into your next graduate job, introduce you to a new group friends or turn you onto a newly discovered passion. You can do this by attending meetings of groups, socials or panels you find interesting.