5 top tips to help with the transition.
I was having a scroll through the C+P blog as you do, and I’ve noticed that there’s lots of content and advice on here to do with placements and applying for graduate jobs in final year but what about life after graduation? Well fear not grads…I’m here to help fill that gap!
So you’ve just handed in your final assignment or completed your last ever university exam and you’re off to Gosta’s beer garden to chill in the sun with great company and plenty of drinks for the rest of the day. This feeling can only be described as somebody finally lifting the weight of about ¼ of the books stored in the library off your head allowing you to gracefully float upwards into the much-anticipated land of happiness and freedom. Mixed in with this mass feeling of euphoria, there is of course, a tinge of worry and a hint of apprehension about what the future holds for you along with the depressing thought of your cherished university friends that have had your back since fresher’s week going their separate ways. But meh…as far as you’re concerned you don’t need to be troubling yourself with that now, right? Definitely not! “C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E GOOD TIMES COME ON!”
A few months have passed since the post-final exam party extravaganza; you’ve been chilling, watching plenty of Netflix, a bit more Netflix…and then a little more, or you might have been on holiday or even gone travelling the world. Either way, when July comes along, this only means one thing…it’s time to graduate! Now, from my personal experience, I can honestly say that apart from preoccupying myself 40% of the time worrying about tripping up the stairs when my name was called, my robes being skew-whiff and my cap falling off, my graduation ceremony was a day I will definitely treasure for the rest of my life. All of my family were there to support me and the weather was glorious. The sun was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic come to think of it, 30-degree heat in long, thick black robes wasn’t ideal…but nevertheless my four years of hard work at university came down to this very day, I’d graduated, and I was feeling on top of the world.
But after the celebrations had passed, then it hit me…what next? A lot of my friends had secured graduate jobs and suddenly the realisation that I didn’t really have a plan in place after I graduated was becoming increasingly apparent. Perhaps like me, you weren’t really sure about what career you wanted to go into after university and most of your time was spent working on the dreaded dissertation to properly think about it. You’ve worked extremely hard for the past three/four years and you want a job where you can practically apply the amazing skills and knowledge you’ve learnt from your degree, otherwise, there’s really not much point in that long life debt you’ve just given yourself. The reality of the matter is, life after graduation is tough. I was perhaps a little naïve coming out of university with my 1st class honours degree and placement experience under my belt thinking I’d be able to casually stroll into the first job that took my fancy. This was not the reality, the graduate market is increasingly competitive and I seemed to be getting rejection after rejection and just couldn’t figure out why.
Now, I’m going to stop right there for a minute, because this blog is starting to sound too whiny for my liking and I’m not a whiny person at all, I like to think I’m a pretty optimistic person the majority of the time. The purpose of this blog wasn’t to put a downer on things and to have a moan about how difficult getting a job after graduation can be. The purpose of this blog was to say, yes life after graduation can be hard, but just because you haven’t landed your dream job straight away doesn’t mean that you won’t. It seemed to me whilst I was at university I was always bombarded with success stories about people landing amazing jobs with amazing companies straight after university but there never seemed to be support out there to tell people that that’s not the only option after graduating! As I was in a very different situation to this, at the time, I couldn’t help feeling a little sense of failure. After having time to reflect I’ve realised life isn’t a race and it’s completely okay to not be exactly where you want to be career-wise after graduating. For those of you in a similar position to me who are starting to feel disheartened – please don’t be.
I’m sharing my five top tips that kept my spirits and motivation high through this tough period – I hope you find them useful!
- Don’t compare yourself
As I said before, life really isn’t a race. If your best friend has landed a graduate scheme with a global corporate company, earning the big bucks and loving life (which they are probably exaggerating anyway) good for them. You need to take the time to focus on yourself and really think about your career options and the direction that you want to go in. Everybody is different. Don’t just apply to a graduate job to keep up with everybody else’s lifestyle, it has to be the right job for you, not just a job you think you SHOULD be doing.
As disheartening as it can be to keep applying for jobs and getting rejections, miracles don’t happen overnight. Success takes time, you have to be persistent and keep applying to things, sooner or later you will start to get a bit of luck (usually when you’re least expecting it!).
- Ask for feedback
When you’re applying for jobs and if your application or interview didn’t quite make the cut, one of the things that is going to be most beneficial to you is to understand where you went wrong so that you are able to improve on this for next time. Most companies nowadays are so busy and preoccupied with what’s happening internally the majority of them will send you a generic email sent from a robot saying they aren’t able to provide feedback. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get so it’s always worth asking anyway!
- Improve yourself
As cliché as this may sound if you’ve all of a sudden got a lot of time on your hands while you’re looking for the right job, why not make the most of the time you have? Research the field you are interested in going into thoroughly, learn as much about it as you can to put you ahead of the game! Learn a new skill, try a new hobby, start reading more or take up some work experience at a local SME in a role that interests you. Any work experience that you can get in the career that you want will be valuable to you and it gives you more to speak about in interviews.
- Use the resources at C+P available to you!
Now, I know this might be a bit tricky for you graduates that no longer live in Birmingham, but if you do still happen to be in brum, not many graduates seem to be aware that the friendly Careers and Placements team here at Aston are here to support you for up to 3 years after you graduate…so make use of them while you can! Get CV/cover letter advice, visit a careers consultant to figure out your career options, attend interview or assessment centre workshops. There’s a whole variety of help waiting for you so don’t be afraid to use it.
By Hayley Bristow