How to Prepare for Life Post-Graduation

A few years since leaving university, Charli reflects on life post-graduation and the things she wishes she had known at the time, which would have made the transition easier. Read on for some very helpful tips…
Student car piled with belongings
As the first person in my family to go to uni, and having previously known no one else that had been, I definitely felt underprepared when I left uni. I had no one to ask about what I should expect, or what I should be thinking about, and unfortunately I felt as though my uni did little to help or prepare me. It can be easy to look no further than the next deadline, such as finals, and ignore the inevitable changes that are about to happen. A few years on, having experienced life post-graduation, and witnessed others going through it, here are a few tips that I can pass on.
Firstly, decide what you want to do after graduation. This may sound obvious, but apart from knowing I wanted a break, I didn’t have many other plans in place. Figure out what you’d like to do straight away, have a goal for where you’d like to be six months after graduating, and have some sort of idea where you might want to be after a year. Think about things such as whether you want to – or have to – move back home, whether you want to go travelling, if you want to dive straight into a career or whether you’d like a part time job whilst you figure out your options. Maybe you want to do some volunteering or work abroad. Or perhaps you’d like to do a masters or further training. Really, really think about what you actually want at this stage of your life.
There are some practical things to consider, to enable a smooth transition from student life to adult life, and ticking them off the list can help relieve some of the pressure. These include:

  • Working out where you are going to live: How long do you have left on your current tenancy? Is there space for you at your family home? Can you afford to not move back home?
  • Tying up the loose ends of your tenancy: When do you need to move out and how will you get your things out? Have you arranged a cleaner? Do you need to mow the lawn and clear up the weeds? Do you need to arrange any repairs?
  • Changing your address and setting up a mail redirection, if you need to.
  • Sorting your finances: Switch over your student bank account to a graduate one, if the bank doesn’t do that automatically. Don’t worry about your student loan just yet, but it’s a good idea to understand how it works. Work out how long you can live on what money you have before a job is essential, and  set up a budget to help your money go further.
  • When you are ready, get your CV and cover letter templates in order, and set up a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one.
  • It’s never too early to begin networking: it might sound daunting, but it’s generally just about having a chat, to find out about careers and industries that inspire you. Start with people you know – family and friends, lecturers and alumni. Ask questions about what they do, how they started out, what qualifications and experience could be useful, whether they know anyone else you could talk to, etc.

It’s perfectly OK if you have no idea what you want to do at this stage, and you definitely deserve to have a break.  However, the earlier you start thinking about what sort of job you might like to do, the better. Make use of the careers services and fairs at your uni before graduation. Even if you don’t figure out your lifelong career goals, it’s a good place to start you thinking about it. And after you leave uni, it can be harder to get support, so make use of them whilst you are there.
If it all seems a little overwhelming, then take small steps. Have a look through a jobs board website such as Indeed to see what roles appeal to you, or check if there are any grad schemes of interest out there. Get some experience, whether that’s shadowing to learn more about a role, or doing a paid internship to learn some industry specific skills. Or just get a temporary job to put on the CV whilst you figure out the next steps. If you are really stuck, read our blog on the dreaded question ‘What do you want to do?’
Talk to other people. You will probably have a lot of people (often parents/ those invested in your life) asking you (all the time) what your plans are when you leave, and this can be stressful if you don’t know yet. But hearing suggestions can actually be very helpful as you step into the unknown territory of adult life. When talking to friends and peers about their plans, try to look at them as options that you too could think about if you want to, rather than what you should also be doing. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy!
Look after yourself and your mental health. Leaving uni is a HUGE transition. Leaving behind the structure of education, the comfort of your student loan and the freedom of living with your friends takes adjustment. You might feel free and excited, but you may also feel lost or confused. You’ll probably have lots of people questioning your choices and watching your next move. But try to take everything in your stride and move at your own pace. You’ve got a degree and done all the hard work, and now is the time to reap the rewards of that, and start living your life!Graduate boy

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