Immediate Life after University - 5 steps to stop the panic

Posted on: 18 Jul 2016

Question Marks

Exams are over, hand-ins, well…handed-in and it’s time to measure the size of your head and order your graduation get-up, but what now? And if the answer to that is a worried shrug, what to do?

For some the period directly after graduation can be a time of incredible excitement and immediate progress and growth. A place on an ultra-competitive grad scheme secured? Moving up to London for that ‘dream job’? But for many this will be the most uncertain, confusing and downright scary time of their lives. 

Moving home isn’t a backwards step

When job searching, career-planning or opportunity targeting, something that often gets forgotten are simple, crucial logistics. And when we say logistics what we really mean is money. Unless you’ve already secured a job or grad scheme role then likelihood is you’re probably going to have to move back in with your folks.

Sure, after having the freedom to do whatever you’ve wanted to do for the last three years this can be a shock to the system but sometimes needs must and for many this is one of those times.

It gives you an opportunity to job search without immediate pressure, save some money and…breathe. Sideways step, not backwards. 

Fully explore your options

Three years at University, voluntary experience and paid jobs and still no idea what you want to do? Don’t worry, some people never really know what they want to do with their career.

There are options to help you understand what you’d like to do, and even if there’s no Eureka moment, you should be able to get an idea of the kind of jobs you’d enjoy.

Online diagnostics such as those on Prospects, Target Jobs or Adult Directions, or an appointment with a Careers Adviser (we know a few good ones!) can be good first steps to sorting out the muddle. 


Don’t get down on your degree 

Of course it’s ok to decide you’re not interested in finding work within the subject matter of your degree, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste of time.

Outside of specialist job roles that demand the requisite degree (Midwifery, Civil Engineering etc), you can essentially still apply for anything providing you can show the employer you possess the right skills, experience and attitude for the role.

Last year’s History graduates from University of Portsmouth went into areas as diverse as advertising, financial advice, project management and journalism for example.

A degree will give you access to a whole world of jobs, it’s how you sell the skills gained from your time at Uni that’s important. 

Don’t worry about what your friends are doing

When everyone you know is at the same stage as you it becomes hard not to make comparisons.

But even if it feels like everyone else has got their lives sorted and is having an amazing time at their shiny new job (which seems unlikely, unless you have very organised and lucky friends) – there’s not much you can do about this. Besides, the reality is much more likely that many of your mates will be in the same boat as you.


It’s the next step, not the rest of your life

OK, let’s not pretend this isn’t an important time, if nothing else it’s probably the moment when life switches from being about full-time education to full-time work which is a big change both symbolically and practically (post-grad entrees-aside).

However, this is NOT the moment where everything has to either fall into place or you missed your chance and a life of mediocrity, misery and call centres awaits.

Careers have changed in recent years and the time of settling in at a job for life is largely over. Moving between jobs used to look indecisive on a CV but now it shows development, ambition and a desire to learn new skills and grow.

The first post-Uni job doesn’t have to be the dream job, it could be a stepping-stone, or a chance to try something out, or a job taken for a practical reason that ends up being a whole lot more. Don’t rule anything out and don’t put too much pressure onto that first leap.