The graduation hats have been tossed and your well earned degree is clasped proudly in your hand. The next couple of employment years is somehow hinging on a single piece of paper. So what next? Life after university can be a bit of a shock. Depending on the way in which you have navigated your mindset and experiences during university, the time period after graduation can be quite daunting and understandably so. Before you are ready to thrust all your hopes, dreams and graduation cap in the air – or at least before you stage that picturesque Instagram picture of your cap in the air – here are eight things that perhaps not many will share when it comes to the transition after graduation.
1- View your time as your most valuable resource
Honestly, this is something that I am actively working hard to ingrain in my brain. Time is the most valuable commodity one has. With today’s world being akin to a social media tsunami, it’s incredibly easy to get flooded with notifications and get swept away with meme’s, Twitter feuds and celebrity gossip. The distractions of today’s era come in a myriad of forms that can deceptively gobble up time in a flash. This is not to say that sequestering yourself with a book glued to your face is the answer however find creative ways to utilise your “free time”
2- Your 20’s can be the loneliest and most confusing time periods you’ll face
Sitcoms, television programmes and the movie industry do a fantastic job at glamorising the life of the idyllic fresh faced “graduate”. The truth is that after university your mind will probably be pacing in a thousand directions – each one willingly opposing the other. It’s natural to find yourself frustrated and nervous. Your twenties are a time where you will be avidly searching for opportunities and you won’t be alone. You along with thousands upon thousands of fresh graduates are seeking out paths for a desired career opportunity. If you get overwhelmed or frustrated, step back and BREATHE! Take the time to talk with your close friends and family.
3- Keep building and maintaining relationships after graduation
Spend more time with people than on your favourite Instagram accounts (yes, I’m actually serious). We live in an era where we are flooded with incentives to be “checked in” online. We’re plugged in on various social platforms and we feed our brains with that quick fix of online satisfaction. Only to realise, that there can be an addictive element to social media that tags along with it. Discussing the perils of social media may seem a little old at this stage – everyone at this stage has heard all the reasons why we should be off our tablets and mobile phones but honestly, it makes a huge difference!
Start engaging with people and make time to reach out to those that are flourishing in your dream career field. With a typical university experience comes not only the knowledge about your prospective career but hopefully the acquisition of developed “soft skills”. Do not go soft on your soft skills! So much of the skillset required from a graduate can be further enhanced when you start to build your confidence in teamwork, interpersonal communication, leadership etc. When reaching out to people on Linkedin or being referred by a colleague/professor sometimes the first step can be the most awkward and nerve wracking but honestly after the third, fourth try you will begin to gain confidence in yourself and your abilities. It’s comfortable being in your comfort zone and that’s why a lot of us feel safe and happy in this cocoon but the goals worth reaching for will always require you to dig deep. Be open to receive new information and knowledge and take the opportunity to network with individuals. You never know who you may end up rubbing shoulders with.
4 – Don’t be afraid to take risks
As a fresh graduate, the idea of a safety net and predictability is a dream that not many have the chance of tasting. When you step out of your comfort zone and take risks, try and challenge yourself to learn something new. Risk taking is an arena that almost always requires you to adapt, strategize and develop on your existing skills.
5 – Your university experience may have come to an end but education is a lifelong journey
You’re not a university student forever (thank goodness). The ramen noodle student diet and the all-nighters may now be a thing of the past but the process of acquiring knowledge is one that remains a steadfast constant – irregardless of what degree you hold. Whether you learn more about your prospective career or you gain insight into what you want out of life as a young individual, the lessons you learn will grow and multiply. Cultivate an interest in gaining knowledge about your career. Utilise your network wisely and broaden your contacts with people in your career field and use any information gained to understand where you see yourself.
6- Invest your time in being proactive
View your time after graduation as an investment. The simple adage “you get out of it, what you put in” proves true time and time again. Whether it means enhancing your social footprint and updating your Linkedin to reaching to out to alumni and having honest and insightful conversations about what you want to accomplish in your career. Adopt a proactive mindset on the goals you want to achieve. Cultivate and harness a willingness to be receptive. Be eager and enthusiastic to learn from others and their experiences. Regardless of how much you know, there is a lot more that you don’t know. With the world of the internet just a click away, start to find out the hot topic conversations people in your desired industry are having and that are pertinent to your career of choice.
7 – There’s almost always more than one door
No one will expect you to have everything figured out the moment you graduate. The struggle of a millennial in today’s society is one that can scare the living daylights out of anyone. There’s the constant chatter about the scarcity of jobs for new graduates and the ever increasing competition to get the best positions. Your ability to succeed however is driven by how much you put in and your enthusiasm and tenacity to seek out opportunities to get to your goal. This is empowering when you think about it.
8 – A large proportion of your success can be determined by you!
With a lot of career prospects, you have the main and probably most common path to entering that job field. Sometimes there are ways to get to where you want to be via another door. Not all the time, but usually most amazing opportunities land in the hands of those who take a novel approach that not many will embark on. Remember the “front door” may not always be the only route.
Good luck and a huge congratulations to everyone who is graduating from the University of Kent this summer!