For students everywhere, the pressure of what they’re going to do after graduating is an ever-present fear. Here’s what I’ve learned:
What happens after you graduate?
“Thank you for taking the time to complete your application, unfortunately, there were other applicants with more relevant experience, and so we regret to inform you that you were unsuccessful this time around”-The all too familiar morning greeting as a job seeker
No matter how many messages of this nature you receive, it can still be a little soul destroying to find an email such as this, tucked cosily away amongst that order confirmation for those shoes you ordered to console yourself after three hours of filling in applications.
After graduating, it’s easy to feel like you are stuck in an endless cycle of searching, applying and, eventually, being rejected from jobs. This wouldn’t be far from the truth either. But, it is important to know that everyone is part of this cycle at some point. If they weren’t, well, their dad is probably the owner of that big company they are now working for.
Remember there’s no right or wrong path
As a graduate myself, I know all too well the emotions that come with post- university life. After graduating, I was a confused twenty-something, thrust out of the safe confines of University, with not a clue what I wanted to do with my life. With this in mind, I decided that I would embark on a six month travelling and volunteering spree around Europe. I can safely say it was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. I saw things that I feel so privileged to have laid eyes upon. Not to mention all the amazing people I met that I would not have encountered otherwise.
Yet when I returned from my travels, I couldn’t help but feel concerned that I was somehow ‘behind’ everyone else. Websites like LinkedIn are a melting pot of different job titles, leading to unhealthy levels of comparison. The endless hours of scrolling have a habit of making you feel inadequate if you’ve done anything other than dedicate your whole life to internships since leaving the womb.
I can admit that I am still rather in the dark when it comes to what I want to do with my life. But what I’ve realised is, that not having a clue is more than ok. In fact, even those people I know who thought they knew exactly what they wanted to do have found themselves in completely unrelated jobs. From speaking to many different friends, It has become apparent to me, that everyone has experienced some element of doubt in regards to the choices they have made since graduation.
What have I learnt since graduation?
With all this in mind, it is certainly true that the past year and a half has taught me a number of things. Firstly, it is important to not compare yourself. Indeed, this is important in all aspects of life. From looks, to how many likes you got on your last Instagram post. Talking of Instagram, It is important to realise that everyone’s realities tend to be very different to what we see on social media. Even sites such as LinkedIn are not exempt from this. As useful as they can be in many ways, they are certainly a space where people can portray the best version of themselves. From fancy job titles, to elaborate job descriptions, to highly professional looking pictures; these are just some of the many elements that make up this sometimes damaging online world.
Don’t let job hunting take over your life
That is not to say that these websites don’t have many benefits, they really do. You can find jobs and companies you might never come across on other generic job sites, as well as providing you with the opportunity to contact people you would never otherwise meet in real life. But, with that said, it is important that we don’t let them take over our lives. Take a break from the computer and dedicate some of your time to doing something completely unrelated to the J word.
Try different paths
As much as it can feel like your life’s mission to immediately find your dream job, the reality is, that ambitions and outlooks often change. What you think is the perfect job right now, might turn out not to be. Be flexible in your approach, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find the perfect job right away. Importantly, know that you have many years ahead of you to work things out.
If you’re still unsure of what job you’d like to be in, try your hand in different sectors. Things like voluntary work and casual work can be a great way to advance your skills, whilst helping you to work out what interests you in a job. If you pick a specific sector to focus your attention to it will make the application process a lot easier. It enables you to recycle bits of content in other cover letters and get a confident grip on the skillset required for that particular sector.
On a final note, it is important to recognise that nowadays, we are living in a transient job market. Jobs are no longer forever like they might have been for our grandparent’s generation. As much as there is less job security, it’s important to take advantage of this climate. See the uncertainty after graduating as an opportunity to try out different things. If a job isn’t right for you, well, then it might not be forever anyway.
Most importantly, remember that everyone moves at their own pace. We’ll all be working for so many years of our lives, we owe it to ourselves to take our time and try out different things whilst we are still so young. Ultimately, keep in mind that everyone finds their way in the end, and it shouldn’t matter how long that takes.