Coping with Change After Graduation
Recent graduates, who know how it feels, talk about the transition from education to working life and share tips on coping with change and embracing life after uni.
Leaving university and beginning your new life as a graduate can be a huge change, even more so with the uncertainty of Covid-19 still looming. The highs of completing your course, graduating and celebrating at the start of summer can contrast with the fear of the unknown and self-inflicted pressure to get sorted. You may have gone from being super busy working on your degree, sticking to a familiar schedule and enjoying your thriving social life, to moving away from friends, finding yourself with lots of spare time and contemplating that overpowering question ‘what next?’ But don’t despair! Everything you are feeling is completely normal and natural.
Graduating university and starting the next chapter of your life can be a truly exciting time and there is plenty to be hopeful for! Read some tips from recent graduates who have been through this change and totally get how it feels.
Ali, events organiser, offers reassurance that it’s OK to feel quite lost and unsettled, it just takes time to adjust. ‘Life after graduation can be quite hard at first, people don’t tell you that the transition from uni to the real world is actually quite uncomfortable, for several reasons: friends are spread out, you have gone from “living term to term” to no clear structure, and for most people, this is the first time you have had a real choice about what you want to do. The change can be liberating, but you might also feel quite lost for a while.’
Chloë, now a life coach, found that when she first graduated, if things went wrong she took it as a reflection on herself, which knocked her confidence. She learned through being coached herself, that ‘you mustn’t connect your self-worth to your actions. If you can disconnect the two, you can look at those challenges as learning, rather than failure’. Chloë thinks this mindset is the basis of grit and resilience – view it as a learning experience, pick yourself up and move on.
Like Ali, Chloë found it difficult moving from the familiar structure of uni to having complete freedom, with no one telling you what to do. She believes it’s important to look after yourself, take time to reflect and ‘build a picture of you’. ‘When you graduate, there is often a tendency to review options that you think are currently available to you. But what is more useful is to think about what you really want and what is important to your life, independent from other people’s opinions. And in the same way, try not to compare yourself to others – whether that be where you are living, how much you are earning or comparing varying levels of “success”. Everyone has unique experiences. There are no set tracks. It is about random opportunities that come up, so just be open to that’.
Rikesh is a musician, photographer and creative; he believes the best plan of action is to be well-organised, save as much as you can and get networking; you should always be open to speaking to people and trying to build connections because you never know where they could lead. He echoes Chloë’s view about being flexible and open to opportunities: ‘Some people have an idea of what they want to do when they leave uni while others have no clue; but in both cases, you may have to go down a lot of paths to reach your ideal job, and as you go through life, your version of “ideal” may well change. So, it is a case of experimenting and trying different things to find out what you do and don’t like.’
Harrie and Tamsin, both entrepreneurs, advise new graduates to try not to worry too much. Harrie acknowledges the job search can be stressful, but says you shouldn’t feel pressure to find the perfect role. She agrees with Rikesh, that ‘you can try different things and take opportunities to see what you like and if you don’t enjoy something, you can try something else. You will never be stuck.’ (Harrie herself is a great example – she left her advertising job with a top London agency to travel and freelance; a few years on, she is based in Bali where she co-founded a successful eco-friendly business).
Tamsin points out that worrying about what might happen means you could end up suffering twice: ‘You spend energy worrying and then if the outcome isn’t what you were hoping for, you may hurt again; or if it’s a good result, worrying was a waste of time!’ So she suggests stop fretting about things you can’t control, and deal with situations as they arise.
So, from the words of those who have recently been through this stage of life…consider your options, but don’t see them as a definitive list – be open to opportunities and know it’s perfectly OK to reevaluate and change your mind. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and avoid comparing your situation with other people’s. Adjusting to your new way of life can take time, but everyone will find their way in the end. And most of all, just try and enjoy your newfound freedom and reap the rewards of all your hard work!
Find out more on coping with change:
Grad Bites: Dealing with Change – A Guide for New Grads
How to embrace the new chapter that comes after graduation
Grad Bites: Post Uni Worries: Advice from a Life Coach
Chloë explains how to change your mindset to overcome post-uni worries & cope with knockbacks
About our contributors
Ali Gillum juggled university studies with running a business making tech cases and accessories. After graduating, she worked in social media and has since returned to her entrepreneurial ways, setting up her own events company.
Chloë Garland is the founder of Quarter-Life and an early careers coach, helping graduates and young adults work out what they really want and how to get there.
Rikesh (RKZ) Chauhan is a multi-talented musician, menswear writer and photographer, creative and also an ambassador for the award winning men’s health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
Harrie Simonis started her career in advertising and then began working remotely as a freelance marketing consultant whilst travelling the world. She has since co-founded Zero Waste Cartel, selling eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle products.
Tamsin Gordon founded the innovative Glitzbox jewellery rental subscription service and now works as a marketing manager for a jewellery brand.
Thank you Ali, Chloë, Rikesh, Harrie and Tamsin 🙂