‘at the most important crossroads of life, there’s no signposts’
Leaving university life behind after a whirlwind four years of constant studying, friendship, and partying can hit hard. Moving back home and unpacking boxes of amazing memories – for me at least – was an emotional task, which reinforced the weight of what I had left behind. As someone who loves to plan, living as a recent graduate in a newfound state of limbo feels both daunting and unsettling. As I stand navigating an important crossroads in my life, I decide to share my experience throughout this blog, as I know so many others out there will be feeling the same emotions.
Changing Your Mindset
With no definite plans on the horizon, it’s easy to see your life as going nowhere. However, changing your mindset about this is important when leaving university; instead, think of the possibilities and opportunities out there and switch to thinking that your life has the potential of going anywhere.
Worrying about internships, graduate jobs, and masters’ places is natural when sites such as LinkedIn seem to show all your friends and peers pursuing amazing opportunities. Instead, take pride and enjoyment in being at this crossroads in your life, in not being tied down to lengthy job contracts, parental responsibilities, or house mortgages!
Another important mindset to grow into is that you deserve some recovery time. Writing final-year dissertations or just coming off long-hour placement years is intense and incredibly stressful. As recent graduates, we deserve to take some time to recover and reset after these years of chaos and constant change.
Exploring Your Options
At this time in your life, it’s also important to try out different jobs, roles and skills. Internships, work experience placements, or part-time jobs are perfect for this. Being young and energetic with an eagerness to learn are qualities that employers value and will recognise the strength of in your applications. Whether you’d like more experience in a sector such as digital marketing or wish to get outdoors and learn how to teach rock climbing, why not find roles which allow you to explore these varying options?
Further to this, attending online workshops, webinars, and classes is a great way to enhance existing skillsets or develop new ones. Many companies offering graduate schemes host online taster events, designed to support candidates in their application process. In addition, Open University provides plenty of free or affordable online classes and language apps – such as Duo Lingo – allow candidates to learn a new language, completely free with the touch of a button on your smartphone!
Begin to Plan Ahead
Once you have taken some well-needed time out and considered multiple options, you might feel it’s time to start to plan ahead. If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the future can be incredibly unpredictable and the whole world can turn upside down within a month. Make sure your plans reflect this; think of a Plan B or Plan C alongside your Plan A and ensure these are adaptable and well thought through.
Whilst it can seem unattainable to obtain your ‘perfect job’ straight out of university, your plans should aim to reflect the skills you enjoy, the lifestyle you desire, and the salary you feel comfortable living on. In between planning to embark on courses, education, or positions that will advance you as a candidate, factor into the forward-thinking things you know you’ll enjoy. After all, these years of youth are the times we’ll never get back!
First published by Lily Cratchley, 4th October 2021