Earlier this month, figures revealed that the number of unconditional offers handed out by Universities has risen from 2,895 in 2013 to an eye watering 67,915 in 2018. With the Government describing Universities as having a “bums on seats” mentality, more graduates than ever are being churned out.
With more graduates competing, and that mound of student debt rising, many of us have been left wondering if our hard earned degree/the lols were really all worth it.
But hold your horses on that negative self-talk, because I’ve got two years of hindsight and bitter reflection behind me to warn you about all the things University doesn’t tell you…
1. Embrace the post-graduation dip. I call it “SAD-uation”, and much like a water infection it’s inevitable and will hit us all at some point. One minute your grad pics are breaking the internet, the next you’re sat on the sofa at 3pm cursing the 2008 recession for your current job sitch. It may not feel like it now, but that forced period of reflection isn’t a bad thing. It can feel depleting, but use it as guilt free lazy time because we’re going to be working until we’re 82 anyway.
2. Don’t compare yourself. Linkedin stalking and social media will have you feeling that everyone and their cat has ‘made it’. Comparison is the biggest thief of joy, as they say. I’m 23 and so was Britney when she released Toxic. We’re all waiting on that career defining banger, so in the meantime don’t rush into something for the sake of it.
3. Be ready for the immediately successful friend. Every friendship group has one. That one mate who walks out of the graduation ceremony into an internship at the IMF. If this works for them, great. But remember, premature success isn’t always a good thing. And once you get THAT job – the feeling will have made the waiting worth it.
4. Expect some loneliness. Whatever your next move after graduation, every single person will feel a degree of isolation. Moving to a new city? Being in a city full of people can be the loneliest of places. Moved back home? Suddenly your childhood bedroom feels smaller, your friends from home have left and you’re wondering how you got here. Your low points will be the times where you learn most about yourself. I made two of my closest friends at temp jobs that I took when I moved back home. Similarly, volunteering at my local food bank for a year brought rich friendships into my life. Check out Timeshare app if you’re in London, it connects you with local refugees and asylum seekers for a skills exchange. Local jobs sites and council voluntary pages also list great volunteering opportunities.
5. Trust your struggle. Things not going to plan? Don’t sweat it! Is your six month plan falling apart at the seams? Go with it girlfriend! Your list of goals should evolve with you, be ready to jump at the right opportunity and believe that your struggle is making you who you are. On that note, this Ted Talk is bang on.
6. Be impulsive. As cliché as it sounds, if circumstances allow, be spontaneous. Book a flight, think about the accommodation later. Apply for the job you’re scared for. Go on a date with someone other than your “type”. Say yes to new experiences, and it’ll build you.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask. You literally have nothing to lose. Employers love it if you come to them, especially in certain sectors. It saves them energy and money. Be savvy with it, take out a free Linkedin Premium trial and get direct messaging.
8. Your alcohol tolerance will surprise you. As in, it will get lower. Why was it that at Uni a mid week sesh and next day 9am was easy, and now, that just seems like an impossible mountain to climb? (Quite possibly because you’re on the floor).
9. Don’t be a job snob. As much as we wish we could swoop into our dream job, taking a temp job is an inevitable. You’ll be surprised what you can learn in the most unexpected of places! Don’t let others define what a successful job is. If you’re happy and fulfilled – surely that’s all that matters? Meet Alfie who is doing just that – and he’s having a ball doing it.
10. Talk to the older people in your life. There are gems nestled in the minds of our older generation and they’re fast fading. A chat with your Gran or Uncle or neighbour can not only be cathartic but those pearls of wisdom will get you thinking!
Written by Naomi de Souza