Stepping out of University and finding your place in the world can be a scary thing. Especially because life has no blue-print and you may find, as I did and still am finding, that when you want to go in one direction you might be swayed onto a completely different path. When it finally hits you that you no longer have the support of student finance, your friends are all going separate ways and now you have to find a job that is some-what linked to your degree as well as paying the bills each month…the struggle can truly be real!
My first dose of advice for making any kind of decisions post-education, would be-RELAX!
I found that approaching the end of my degree and more specifically when I was finalising and proof-reading my dissertation, I was constantly thinking about what I was going to do next. Studying English Literature, there were many avenues that I could have travelled down and one of those routes was furthering my degree and going back into education to do a Masters degree. I realised that in fact this was not a smart move for me, as my main deciding factor was that I wanted to stay in education for as long as possible so I could buy some extra time to decide what I was really going to do with my life.
Whilst at University, I also had a part time job and although I say it was part-time I was pretty much doing full-time hours. (Something I wouldn’t recommend for anyone who is aiming for a first-class degree-not the job, but I mean specifically doing full-time hours!)
I’ve always had a strong work ethic, but actually making a decision which would impact the rest of my working career was extremely daunting. I’d applied for loads of jobs, specifically ones which I knew would make me a lot of money in the long haul and it seemed like one after the other all I was receiving was rejection after rejection. All the jobs I had applied for had no direct link to my degree, might I add. For someone who’s never struggled with finding a job this was absolutely chaotic for my self-esteem and something that literally would have me coming home after a full days’ work at my ‘part-time job’ and just sob all night long-no joke!
Now on reflection, my advice to anyone who is in this situation would be-DON’T GIVE UP! Keep the search going…research as many companies as you possibly can. Make a list of all the ones you prefer and if it takes adding a cover letter or two or finding one of the senior recruiters for that particular company on LinkedIn and sending them a message to get noticed-do it!
Having spoken with a number of my graduate friends, both who graduated the same year as myself or before have all had varying experiences. Some were ahead of the game, applying for jobs way before graduation-which really did put them in good stead come graduation time! Others, like me, waited until the end of their final assignment to really put their head down and start applying…
Whatever decision you make, the best advice I could give you is focus on yourself. Don’t be disheartened by the fact a friend or two have already found a job, keep searching. I’d also suggest not making any hasty decisions with any offers that come through the door quickly, whether an offer or not..If it doesn’t sit right with you, you don’t need to take it! Keep the search going until the right career opportunity becomes available.
On a more personal note, I also really struggled with the decision to stay in the city that I went to University in, or return back to my family home. I have family that live in both South London and Surrey, with the majority of my friends being in Surrey.
I made the decision to stay put and not relocate back home. It wasn’t a massively hard decision because I have my own little studio flat which I rent and the right working opportunity presented itself very close to where I am based. I also have friends that are local to me here, but I think being fresh out of University, your decision to move or stay shouldn’t be based on local friendships (although it definitely is a factor.) You have to remember the first year you step out of education really is about YOU making your own shock waves in the world.
I’d also mention…the last five months that I’ve been independent and out of University haven’t been easy. I wouldn’t have expected it to be any other way. I’ve learnt though, the key to making it easier is to set yourself a plan for where you would like to see yourself a year down the line and with any big decisions you have to make moving forward, always keep that plan in mind. The reason I say make a one year plan, rather than three or five, is because it is much easier to make a long-term plan and delay aspects of that, whereas a year plan will really push you to stay focused.
Find what makes you happy, conquer any fears you have head on and be true to your authentic self. This is the time of your life to never compromise, to grow and continuously develop. Whether that be personally, financially, any other aspect or all of them combined together.
I’d like to end with this quote (apologies because I have no idea who actually said this I’ve just seen it floating around recently, but I think it’s a perfect fit for the overall message of this post!)
Find three hobbies you love: One to make you money, One to keep you fit and One to be creative!