Anyone who’s ever even considered going to university knows that it’s supposed to be ‘the best years of your life’. Well, for the majority that’s pretty accurate. You move away from home and gain the freedom you’ve craved as a teen, you can drink all the vodka you want without your parents there to judge, you spend every minute of your day with your friends, and you get to study something you really enjoy. No one’s claiming that university isn’t hard work too, because it is, but you forget about that pretty quickly and focus on the fun aspect.
So what are you supposed to do when the uni bubble pops? You might have to move back home or move to a new city entirely after graduation – leaving behind your friends and everything you’ve known for the past 3 or 4 years.
Now I’m not saying that I made the transition very well, but I’ve learnt a few things along the way, so here are some tips:
Understand that everyone’s graduate journey is different
In my final year, I began to panic that everyone around me knew what they wanted to do and how they were going to get there, so I frantically started to apply for graduate schemes left, right and centre, because that’s just what you do. It soon became apparent that graduate schemes weren’t for me, and the extremely difficult application processes were, in fact, making me panic more about graduating than actually helping. I started thinking about what areas I enjoy and what type of career I wanted for myself, and that wasn’t this huge corporate life in London like some of my friends – but that’s fine! I know many people that joined graduate schemes and are extremely happy in their positions, but for me, I wanted to work in a smaller, younger company who could help me learn new skills, so that’s what I found. The bottom line is, don’t compare yourself to everyone else, focus on what’s best for you.
Your degree is a stepping stone, not a restriction
I studied German and Spanish at university because aged 17 I wasn’t focused on a career, I simply wanted to study something I enjoyed. However, I then went to university and was repeatedly told that the only career paths with my degree scheme were teaching or translating. Consequently, I tried both – and I’m not going to lie, I was horrendous at both. I don’t have the patience to teach and I definitely don’t have the attention to detail to translate. With this in mind, I began to focus on the transferable skills I’d learnt through my 4 years of intense studying. Studying a languages degree made me good at problem-solving, skilled at logical thinking and quite a good writer and researcher. All these skills can be applied to a variety of careers, but I chose social media marketing. When you graduate, don’t feel like you have to work in law just because you studied law, or work in finance just because you studied accounting – just graduating in itself is a huge achievement, and a huge mixture of industries appreciate that. So don’t be afraid to step outside of the norm.
Take every opportunity you can
It sounds cliche, but when you enter the working ‘adult’ world, there are so many opportunities being thrown at you – take every single one you can. Particularly if you’re new to the city or the industry, if someone invites you to a networking event – go, if someone offers to show you around – take them up on it. By making a name for yourself, trying new things and exploring, you’re likely to make friends and further your career, just by politely introducing yourself and eating the free canapes. Some of the better (and less intimidating) events that I’ve attended have been run by JCI Manchester. They’re definitely a great place to start and help you meet young, similar minded people and have a bit of fun. I’ve been to the Manchester events, but they’re all over the UK too. Another great organisation for events are Pro-Manchester, they have events for so many different industries, so check them out.
It’s definitely scary, but you managed to start a life from scratch at a university as a fresher, so don’t be afraid to do it now.
Things are only going to get more exciting
If you’ve just graduated, started your new career in a new city with new people around you, take a moment to just appreciate the opportunities ahead of you. Think of all the new things you will be able to experience. You get to rent your first ‘real’ adult apartment, get your first full-time adult salary, get your first big work promotion, make a new best friend – who knows? But it’s really exciting. It can be sad to leave your uni friends and spread all across the country, but it’s definitely easy to stay in touch with those people if you really want to. Look back on your student years fondly, but make sure you look to the future with excitement too!