It may happen when you’re getting towards the end of your studies, or when you first move in to your first year accommodation, or at any point along the way, but at some point it will hit you – “Oh [word I can’t publish]… What am I going to do when I graduate?”
Well, believe it or not, the world doesn’t stop turning as soon as your catch your cap. Its a big and exciting world out there and to help prove our point, we’re starting a new miniseries of articles called Meet the Graduates.
The point of this isn’t to make a few recent grads famous or to inflate anybody’s ego, but to demonstrate the wealth of opportunities available to you, and some pitfalls to avoid.
So let’s start with Remy, who graduated from UCL with a degree in History in 2016, and has some sage advice on the process of finishing Uni:
What did you do after graduation?
After gradation I was depressed. I had achieved what I wanted to achieve at uni, but my life didn’t suddenly fall into place as I had envisioned it. While a part of me had known that the idea of a smooth transition to working life without any concrete plans was a fantasy, dealing with the reality of the situation was difficult to cope with. If anything, the fact that I had done well on my course made this experience harder, as I felt that I felt more pressured to find a ‘good’ job.
Speaking from personal experience, I know how easy it is for your mental health to slip after graduation, which is why it’s important to plan ahead of time.
Did you get a job relating to your course?
The market for jobs related specifically to history is narrow and mostly related to academia, but the amount of jobs which utilise history-related skills is extensive. During my time at Uni I became interested by prospect of a career in the Foreign Office. Transition to a Civil Service job is a fairly common practice amongst History graduates, as the ‘transferable skills’ jargon careers officers use is not as BS as it sounds. However, I decided to postpone my application to the Foreign Office until after I get an MA and improve my language skills.
How long did it take you to find a job after graduation?
After prioritising enjoying my summer aftergraduation, I found a job at a law firm later in the year.
Turns out, Remy hated his new job:
I was still dealing with the sense of aimlessness following my graduation. The job itself was tedious and I only did it because it sounded respectable, rather than being something I was genuinely interested in pursuing.
Remy got a job in a Law Firm, which many of us would class as a ‘Win’, however this leads us to our first piece of advice:
Don’t take the first job you’re offered, just because it’s the first job you’re offered.
So, how did you get out of the rut?
I decided to re-evaluate how I was planning my future. Rather than focusing on specific career goals, I decided to prioritise working on myself and improving some of my weaker qualities. I had always been shy and struggled to be assertive in a group, so I decided to work in a school as I felt if I could get a class of 30 angsty teens to follow my instructions, then I’d gain the confidence to speak up amongst more reasonable adults.
So here’s the second piece of advice – It’s okay to be out of your comfort zone once you graduate, and being there helps you find what you do want to do.
So what now?
After working as an SEN TA for the majority of a school year, I realised that I wanted to go back to academia and do a Masters, so now I’m back at UCL, , I had a great relationship with the teaching staff during my undergrad and so I wanted to come back. The course also allowed me to study the parts of history that I’m most passionate about – 20th Century Africa and South America – and has access to a bunch of fantastic resources.
What would you say to your younger self?
I would have encouraged myself to actually go to the societies that I signed up for in first year, to meet new people and do things I may not get a chance to after uni, especially for such low costs.
Any final Comments?
If you feel anxious about what you’re going to do after Uni, talk to someone about it, particularly your Uni’s career service. If you’ve already graduated and feel lost, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. It’s great to see your friends do well after they graduate, but remember that you’re still young and that just because you don’t have a concrete career plan now, that doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future. Also, if you feel overwhelmingly depressed or anxious at any point, be brave enough to be as open as you can, it’s hard but talking about your feelings definitely helps.
Couldn’t have put it better myself.