How to Navigate Life After Graduation

University for most of us is a blur of living with your best mates, partying more than you care to admit (sorry Mum), pulling all-nighters in the library as you cry over your dissertation and a whole load of fun. Even if you’ve been counting down the days 'til graduation and you’re done with education forever, getting used to life as a post-grad is no easy adjustment.

If you’ve just spent the day swishing around in your cap and gown then the likelihood is that you'll have come to the end of the best part of 17 years spent in education where your days are mapped out for you, your deadlines are handed to you on a plate and if you’re lucky you’ve had the bank of Mum and Dad to fall back on if you start to push that overdraft limit a bit too far.

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For me, university offered me a freedom like never before. I was away from home meaning there was no curfew on my late nights and no one to tell me I couldn’t eat 3 mini rolls and a sausage roll for my tea. It was said freedom that allowed me to skip a lecture if I was too tired for my 8am alarm (ironically, 8am is now the sweetest of lie ins) or put off writing an essay until 12 hours before the deadline. At the end of the day I knew the only person I was impacting was myself and if there's a time to be selfish it's when you're a student.

Despite experts on hand from day one to offer career advice and the whole point of getting a degree being to better my job prospects, when I handed in my last assignment back in May 2016 I have never felt so lost. Suddenly the structure that I had been used to not just for the past 3 years but the majority of my life was pulled from under my feet. I’m somebody who always loved school, I loved being in education and would still be there now if I could justify yet another student loan. Our whole lives we’re used to being spoon fed with teachers and lecturers on hand to offer support and advice at every turn. When that’s gone it’s easy to feel incredibly lonely in the big wide world.

The minute graduation is over you'll see people starting their graduate jobs, heading off on gap years or preparing for their masters and if you don't fit into any of those categories it's easy to feel like you're failing. Sometimes all the research and CV writing courses in the world can't prepare you for the feeling of just not knowing what you actually want to do.

I found myself applying for endless jobs that sounded like they marginally fitted with the career path I wanted to go down just to make sure I had a job for once I graduated. I dreaded having to move back home with my tail between my legs because I was convinced that people would look down on me for being a ‘failure’ if I didn't automatically land the high-flying role in the city. 

Although I was lucky enough to bag a graduate job straight after graduation going from a care-free student to working full time took a lot of getting used to. Suddenly my time wasn’t my own anymore, I had to turn up for 9am sharp no matter how tired I was and I’d sit at a desk until 5pm rolled around. Every day. Part of me was convinced that I would still get a 6 week summer holiday and I was sure I would never get used to not having days on end to spend watching Melissa and Joey on E4. 2 years later there are still times that I pine for a lie in and my carefree student days but on the whole, I think I'm living this post-grad life pretty well.

Finding a job you love

My top tips for making the adjustment from student to adult *shudder* are:

Make the most of your evenings and weekends- since working full time my evenings and weekends have become sacred. By ensuring I fill them with a balance of social plans and that all important 'me time' getting up for work everyday doesn't seem so bad.

A job is a job- Just because you aren't a Managing Director within 6 months of graduating doesn't mean you're a failure. If you're working and earning money then give yourself a mighty pack on the back, whether you're making your way up the career ladder or biding your time; anything is better than nothing!

Your degree isn't a waste-I can guarantee that if you don't go straight into a job that's relevant to your degree then there will be plenty of people who will want to tell you how much of a waste university was. Don't listen to them. Uni teaches you enough life skills to be worth the £9K  a year (well almost) and you'll be surprised how handy all those transferable skills come in further down the line.

Nobody actually has their shit together-Despite what Facebook and LinkedIn might suggest, nobody fully has their shit together 100% of the time. Just because the girl who sat three rows behind you in your Monday morning lecture has bagged herself your dream job doesn't mean she's any happier than you. Social media is just a highlight reel after all.

Most of all, remember that everything will work itself out and whatever path you're on is the right one for you. That's enough life quotes for one post but in all seriousness, don't panic and never regret your university years because they're some of the best of your life!

Do you have any advice for graduates? Make sure you pop them in the comments!

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