This blog post won’t tell you what to do; it won’t give you CV and Cover Letter tips, or point you towards the best graduate recruitment sites. This blog post will help you think about and cope with your post-graduation emotions. Because in doing that effectively, you will allow everything else to fall into place.
You’re not who you were at 17 years old
It may seem obvious, but acknowledging this fact is an important place to start. The majority of us selected our degrees at the age of 16 or 17. By the time you graduate 3 or 4 years down the road you’re most likely not the same person. You most likely moved to a new city, met new people, and had a whole host of experiences that altered your personality, perspectives, and values. This is a good thing and is to be embraced. The degree you chose as a teenager does not need to box you into a defined career path. Consider the experiences and knowledge you have gained in order to reevaluate and reflect on what you do in fact enjoy — not what 16 year old you thought that you might enjoy.
Ditch the ‘timeline’ narrative
Society likes to push the ‘timeline’ narrative. It goes something like this: “graduate and build up your dream career throughout your twenties and then settle down and have children in your thirties, etc”. This may be a timeline that existed and functioned in past generations, but we live in a very different society now — especially when you throw a pandemic into the mix that puts a halt to most people’s ‘timelines’. It is now well-established that our generation is unlikely to live a life as structured as previous generations. It is expected that we will each have multiple careers in one lifetime. This is new and unprecedented, which can be scary and make you feel lost. But it is also something to be embraced as you can safely throw comparison out of the window and find comfort in the fact that there is no longer a ‘timeline’ —your story will be completely unique and constructed by you rather than by society. As hard as it can be, try to stay in your own lane and focus on your own story rather than comparing yourself to others.
Put ego and expectations to one side
It can be very easy to let things define us, for example our grades or our degrees. With that may come a sense of entitlement. We’re presented with a narrative throughout education that if you work hard and get a good degree then you are almost entitled to a good job at the end of your educational journey. Unfortunately, these days things are not quite as clear cut as that. There are thousands of candidates just like you who have the same set of grades, the same quality of degree and experience. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. Instead of adopting the mindset of entitlement and getting frustrated when you don’t immediately receive the well-paid graduate job that you feel the system promised you, take a step back to reflect on whether that is even something you want. By detaching ourselves from our egos and societal expectations we can look at the world through our own lens to make important life choices that are determined by ourselves and not by predetermined expectations of what we think the world should be offering us.
It’s okay to get off of the conveyor belt
Similar to the notion of the ‘timeline’ with life’s predetermined stages, the ‘conveyor belt’ refers to the almost mechanical educational process with the final stage: being churned out of university ready to be picked up by the ‘workforce’. Many people do choose to stay on the conveyor belt and get swept off it from university and straight into a graduate scheme or traineeship. This certainly has positive aspects in terms of traditional career progression and financial independence. But there are certainly also positives to be found in jumping off of the conveyor belt for a while. Not least to give yourself a breather, but importantly to give yourself the chance to get to know yourself. Who are you when you’re not working towards your next educational success or career move? Who are you when you’re not letting yourself be defined by chasing after your next achievement? Taking the time to explore this is progress. You may actually find you make quicker progress when you give yourself the chance to tap back into who you are, something you might not have had the chance to question since you were a teenager, before you got stuck on the conveyor belt.
A selection of resources
Over the course of the best part of a year I have trialled many graduate-related sites and resources. I have listed my favourites below.
I discovered Studenteer in September 2020 when I originally embarked on my graduate job hunt and I am so grateful that I did. The benefits of volunteering are almost limitless but I have found that my experience with Studenteer has dramatically increased my confidence and has given me the chance to explore avenues I had never previously considered in terms of my career. Studenteer regularly recruits through monthly internship programmes and also for internal roles. I would strongly encourage anybody to get involved.
This graduate-run blog and Instagram page has been a comforting and reassuring resource for me over recent months. Graduates from all walks of life and backgrounds share their experiences, all expressing the sentiment that graduate life might not always playout as you had expected and how to cope and make the most of that.
This site is my top pick when it comes to the graduate job search. Not only does it offer a huge selection of graduate jobs with an interface that is easy to navigate, it also offers courses and articles related to things from how to pass psychometric tests to industry insights. The team is also quick to reply to emails and offers a free CV consultation service.
Graduating is never any easy transition. Entering the ‘adult world’ is a challenge at the best of times, and doing so amidst a global pandemic will necessarily present its own unique struggles. Remember to congratulate yourself. Despite in-person graduation ceremonies being postponed for the foreseeable future, take the time to reward yourself and recognise all that you have achieved. And when you are ready you can hopefully take some of this wisdom and embark on your post-graduation life, wherever it may take you, a little better prepared.
By Kirsty Sciurba for Studenteer
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