Life After University

Written by on 30 April 2018

Life after university is approaching near and fast for many. Although it is sad that this chapter of our academic lives is coming to an end, it is exciting to welcome a new chapter in our lives and be ready to explore the world and put our knowledge and skills to the test.

Image from Oxford Dictionaries

Being a student who is also approaching graduation myself, there are many expectations or assumptions we have about life after we leave our studies, many of which are worries, but most definitely some excitement about starting a new chapter in life and joining the working world.

 

So what is life after university actually like?

After speaking with some recent graduates and some of whom have been in the working world after graduating for some time, they were keen to share their thoughts and tips on what to look out for, how to prepare for life as a graduate, and what to enjoy the most.

Many have expressed that they have experienced mixed emotions after finishing university. International Politics graduate from City University London, Kajal Tailor, said after finishing her studies she felt, “Mixed emotions as a huge chapter has closed”, however, Kajal explains that once you become a graduate, you ultimately begin to feel “nervous about the chapter you’re in now”.

Graduate Jasveen Bansal, who studied English at the University of Southampton, revealed for her it was a big change. It is a great change to make from studying most of your life to working full time, and it can often feel like a shock at first.

“You go through a big change, especially if you’re moving back home, and it becomes a matter of finding your own feet all over again. It’s a difficult transition but ultimately something you’re ready for by the time graduation comes around. The change in environment and pace is what I needed after living in a uni bubble for three or more years.”

Image from SELC

 

The initial expectations and assumptions of being a graduate

It is of course extremely difficult to foresee what life could be like as a graduate, however, with the support from siblings, friends, and more, the insight and guidance you can receive from others can help you prepare for what to expect.

Economics and Politics student from Durham University, Kajal Bhundia, explained what she expected as she had seen her sibling go through the same. “I expected life to be busy (which definitely has lived up to expectation) given that I am both working and studying for my ACA … My brother is also working in a similar industry, therefore I was able to form a realistic expectation of what my graduate life would be early on in my university career.”

As many of us expect, creative industries are very well known for being very competitive, and how challenging it can be at first to secure a job within. Sometimes our expectations and assumptions can be the complete opposite of what we may actually experience. However, the graduates spoken to believed it is important whilst working towards our dream job, to do what we can in the meantime to secure some income.

“I had realistic expectations. There was no assumption that it would be easy, especially with an English degree and with the current work climate. I expected to find a job that would get me at least an income while I looked for that all-important career-making job role – and I expected that to take a year minimum, particularly for a job in a demanding creative field.”

Jasveen Bansal (University of Southampton)

 

So how close were their expectations of being a graduate?

The actual expectations always end up being quite different. Kirren Chana, who studied BSc Psychology at Queen Mary University in London, explained for her she was very surprised with how things turned out after completing her degree and how difficult it was to make decisions on what steps she should take next. “I expected to have a lot of opportunities available to me as a graduate. It was very overwhelming to decide what I wanted to do and I felt pressurised into deciding.”

Majority of the graduates interviewed believed there would be many opportunities available, but experienced the opposite. Kajal Tailor stated what it was actually like for herself within her chosen field, “I thought it would be fairly easy to get a job and go into the next chapter of my life. Everyone is in competition with one another and you need to stand out.”

Rejection was another aspect that was found quite difficult to go through. It is not always foreseen, but many of the graduates spoken to advised it is important to keep an open mind and to stay positive, as in life we all will experience some forms of rejection when working. Jasveen stated that “Getting a foot in the door of an industry that relied heavily on who you knew wasn’t easy, but eventually you make it work and remind yourself you don’t need to settle just because you got a few rejections along the way.”

 

Advice and tips for students approaching life as a graduate

It is tricky finding your feet at first as many graduates have explained above, but here is what they shared on what you can do to prepare for life as a graduate:

“I would really recommend trying to get an internship if you cannot immediately find a job. Obtaining a graduate scheme is not the only way of securing a career after university and there are other means of increasing your employability in the future. For example, try obtaining some internships and don’t be afraid to email people directly (worked with me in the past!). By doing this, you have both the time and experience to decide what career you wish to choose. If all else fails, wait until the next graduate intake (usually around January and September), however, make the most of the time you have. Go on holiday or learn a new skill – it’s unlikely that you will have a similar opportunity in the near future!”

Kajal Bhundia (Durham University)

 

“I would advise them to gain as much experience pre-hand to help them after they graduate, however, I would also assure them that it is perfectly okay to not know what you want to do for the rest of your life, you do not have to rush into the first graduate job that you find.”

Kirren Chana (Queen Mary University)

 

“Stay calm and be patient, and start thinking about where you see yourself going in the next year.”

Kajal Tailor (City University London)

 

What graduates enjoy the most about life after university

There are numerous perks to life after university, and many of these graduates have the chance to now say they have graduated in their field, but also to finally now use all the hard-earned knowledge and skills in their chosen area of work.

“I honestly enjoy the working world! I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me to tap into the things I enjoyed most about my degree. I can be creative, read books and I’m still learning which is great because I genuinely enjoyed education. I’ve had opportunities to really network and grow in a new environment and having new challenges like that keeps things interesting.”

Jasveen Bansal (University of Southampton)

 

“Being able to say I graduated with a degree in International Politics”

Kajal Tailor (City University London)

 

“I enjoy the freedom of coming home and being able to switch off from work, and not stressing about the next assignment deadline!”

Kirren Chana (Queen Mary University)

 

“Goes without saying but it is always nice to earn some income! However, it is very rewarding to be studying the ACA alongside work. Life is busy, with most of my evenings and weekends currently being dedicated to revising, so I really have to be efficient with my time! However, when I do not have exams, it really encourages me to make the most of my free time by visiting friends and family, going abroad etc.”

Kajal Bhundia (Durham University)

 

What do the graduates of 2018 think about life after university?

Some believe that things will become ultimately harder when entering the working world. Taranjit Singh Kandola, who is currently finishing his Pharmacy degree at Kings College London, fears that he will have to be “working long hours”, which will evidently cause “Not having enough time for hobbies”.

Taran continues to express it is due to the nature of his choice of career and studies, as he states, “As healthcare professionals, we do 12 hr shifts”. However, Taran wishes to continue with his studies and will be studying medicine after graduating from his Pharmacy degree.

Many choose to continue studying after graduating their bachelor’s degree, and sometimes it can be due to wanting to enhance your knowledge further, but for Taran, it is finally also studying another area that he is most passionate about.

“I still want to study for another couple of years and enjoy the free time I have before I start working. I’ll be studying medicine afterwards as a doctor, as that is what I have dreamed of becoming. What I’m looking forward to the most is… doing a course that I’m most passionate about.”

Image from McConachie Stedman

Life is full of the unexpected, and here is what some other students said on the matter, who are also approaching graduation this summer:

“After three intensive years of studying, I am more than ready to leave further education and begin my journey to building my career. I am both excited and nervous to be working full time, you hear how different people take to the world of work and I am intrigued as to how I will. My fear, however, is losing contact with the people who have become close to me over these last few years. You hear a lot that time becomes very scarce, I hope that is not the case and that working full time does not interfere with friendships. Investment bankers work 12 hour days with next to no holidays, so I am nervous to see how the industry will affect my personal life too.”

Harmeet Authi (University of Greenwich – BSc Finance and Investment Banking)

 

“There are many things that are going through my mind, but mostly I feel that after finishing university, life seems like it will not get any easier. You need to make sure to use the knowledge obtained to improve yourself and aim for even higher tasks and dreams. It’s hard and it will take time and effort, but mostly passion in order to do what I want to do, and to get my place in this massive industry.”

Martins Spakovskis (University of West London – Music Technology Specialist)

 

As a student myself who is now just finishing my degree and getting ready to graduate very soon, I am most nervous about finding work, as I will be competing against many other applicants in such a large creative and competitive industry, the music industry. However, I am most looking forward to starting another chapter in life, and enjoying some free time before I join the working world. It is evident that securing work in various industries is difficult, and can take some time. After speaking with friends who have graduated, and having seen them go through various experiences, it has shown me that life after university can be unexpected and that it will vary for everyone, as we are all, either in or going into, different career paths. I believe whatever may come next for us all, whether you are already a graduate or are graduating, it is important to keep going and keep striving within your chosen career.

Life after university may seem daunting right now, but whatever life may bring next, let’s stay positive, keep believing, and continue to fight for our dreams!

 

Feature Image from Fayetteville Technical Community College.


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