Life after graduation is entirely different compared to life at university. When classes were cancelled and students were sent home rather suddenly in March 2020, I naively expected to return to campus to complete my final year exams. With lockdown restrictions increasing, exams were soon cancelled and final grades were calculated based on our existing coursework. In the middle of June, sat in my living room, I graduated from university. Although proud of myself, I couldn’t help but find it a little abrupt. Suddenly, I was no longer a student and needed to plan the next few years of my life. At first, I was intimidated, but now I’m trying to turn that fear into excitement. Who knows what’s in store for the next few years? Adjusting to graduate life has been difficult - but, nearly a year on, I feel settled and ready to tackle the path into adulthood ahead of me. Here are HYBR’s six tips for managing life after graduation!
One difficult change after graduation is suddenly being back in your hometown, and no longer living with or very close to the wonderful friends you made whilst studying at University. For most, university friends live all over the country - and even across the globe. Adjusting to not seeing your friends every day can be difficult, so it’s important to keep in contact and stay up to date with each other’s lives. Arrange a Zoom call, host a quiz night, or play online games together! Even a quick phone call or text when possible can make your day brighter. Despite being apart, a quick catch up can make you feel like nothing has changed, and it’s fun to reminisce on the great memories you have together.
If you’re looking for work, one great way to boost your CV and keep busy is to volunteer or participate in work experience. Although currently a lot of opportunities are online or home-based, these experiences can impress future employers and develop your skills. Keeping busy can help you feel more motivated and boost your confidence in your own abilities. Another great way to keep preoccupied whilst job hunting is taking online courses - there are a lot of free courses available on sites such as FutureLearn, Open University and Google Digital Garage. There is a huge variety of subjects available - from art and fashion to marketing and mental health. There truly is something for everyone!
When you graduate, you can feel pressure to find the perfect graduate job. Applying for jobs is no easy feat - completing what can feel like endless cover letters, assessments and interviews can be overwhelming. It can be disheartening to receive rejection emails after submitting your CV, or not making it through to the next stage after an interview, but it’s important not to take it personally. Take every application as an opportunity to learn and grow - sometimes, employers can provide you with feedback to work on for your next interview. Remember, you are more than capable and you will find your dream role eventually. Take breaks between applications to avoid burnout and try to remain positive. You will get there in the end!
Although it can be difficult, try not to compare your own journey to your friends and course mates. Some people find jobs straight after graduating, others find their dream role a year later. It’s okay to define success on your own terms. After graduation, everybody will be at entirely different stages of their life - some will be employed, part-time or full-time, some will pursue post-graduate education, others may be looking to buy a house or still live with their parents. Don’t feel rushed - you are exactly where you need to be and will find your way at your own pace.
One thing that’s important as a graduate is reviewing your budget. From a student loan to a paycheque, you will likely have a different income altogether. Be sure to look into saving techniques and money management so you can save for your future. Rent, mortgages, insurance, bills, travelling… there’s a whole new world of expenses that you want to be prepared for. If possible, have some money set aside for rainy days or emergencies.
Adjusting to graduate life can be tough and can sometimes take a toll on your mental health. Between job applications or working, be sure to take time to take care of yourself. Regularly speak to family or friends and set time aside to do things that you enjoy. Engage in physical exercise or mindfulness (try Headspace, a simple, easy to follow meditation app) to clear your head. If you need professional support or advice, consider speaking to mental health charities (text or call the Samaritans at 116 123) or a local therapist. Life post-graduation can be intimidating and it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed with life changes. Prioritise looking after your mental and physical wellbeing. You’re not alone and there is always someone you can reach out to.
Those are Hybr’s top six tips for looking after yourself after graduating and tackling post-graduate life. For more self-care tips for university students, follow this link.