LIFE AFTER UNI: THE 10 TOUGH TRUTHS I LEARNED

Mar 2, 2024

The dissertation is complete. The last exam is finished. Your degree is done and you can finally release that held breath. Yet, the euphoria quickly gives way to adulthood. Now comes the challenge of figuring out where to go next. You’re not alone, we’ve all been there. 

In fact, that’s why I’m writing this – here’s 10 tough truths I learnt about life after university.

Lesson 1: Job Hunting

You’re not going to walk into your dream job at the click of a button. In fact, you might find that there’s a period of (for lack of a better word) unemployment. My first job took a month of applying. We’re oft told ‘get a degree, it’ll lead to a job/it’ll open your prospects/it’s a magical solution’. Sadly, that’s often untrue. There’s some stiff competition out there. 

With 900,000 students graduating each year, a 1st or a 2:1 is no longer enough. Whilst having a degree is an achievement – let’s not deny that – it alone won’t secure the graduate job of your dreams.

Stand out in a competitive job market with 1-2-1 interview coaching >>

Lesson 2: Everything Comes to an End

After years of being joined at the hip, detaching yourself from the university crowd can be painful. Universities collect students from across the world, so it’s inevitable that you’ll lose touch after as people gravitate back home, or onto the next leg of their journey. 

It’s normal to feel some sort of loss for the life you’ve known for 3 or more years. It can be disorientating transitioning from university to working life, but now’s the time to invest in your career and look forward.

Lesson 3: Learning the Value of a Paycheque

Who doesn’t enjoy a cheeky coffee, a sneaky drink, or a delivery dinner? But nowadays everything has a high price tag, be it your weekly shop, utility bills or council tax. It’s becoming harder to keep a tight reign on finances. Let alone living your best life. 

One way to conserve cash is by practising resourcefulness. That gym membership? Save water by showering there at the end of your workout. Your phone insurance? Buy it through a comparison site that gives added benefits like a free coffee once a week. Your current account? Take advantage of cashback offers. You don’t have to be traditionally frugal to be smart with money.

Lesson 4: Broaden Your Horizons

When you start working, time is tight between sleeping, eating, and working. It can be a shock to the system to realise how little you actually have for downtime. 

Make the most of your weekends. Everyone needs to crash sometimes – especially when starting a new job – but getting out is good for your mental health. Plus doing something different (remember the first time you ever took a train?) is a confidence boost to boot. 

Lesson 5: Fake It ‘til You Make It

Meeting new people is scary. The thought of becoming a hermit crab can be a darn sight more appealing. But no one learns from playing it safe. Confronting your fears is an opportunity for the expansion of you as a person and your career. Make an active effort to be visible in your chosen field by attending job fairs and following the major players online. It’s an easy way to get out there, make connections, and stay in tune with the industry.

Transform your career prospects with a ready-made network of contacts >>

Lesson 6: Every Day’s a School Day

As humans, we’re perpetually growing, building out our ideas and schemas of the world around us. That doesn’t stop when we reach adulthood. It certainly doesn’t stop because we finished our formal schooling. In fact, ‘soft skills’ can take decades to hone. Every day is an opportunity to practice our communication, adaptability, and problem-solving skills.

Gain lifelong career skills in just 3 years >>

Lesson 7: Stay Busy

Finishing uni isn’t the end of the road. It’s a big milestone that no doubt you’ll need a rest from. But you’ll get bored pretty quickly if you let yourself switch off completely. Staying busy keeps your mind sharp and your motivation high. Finish that work of fiction, grow windowsill herbs, do a wardrobe clear-out. 

Lesson 8: Don’t Get Caught in the Comparison Game

Social media has a sneaky way of making us feel like life is a competition. As you’re doomscrolling social media feeds, you’ll see many meals, posed pics, and self-promotional posts. It makes it hard to know what’s real, and even more difficult to gauge how much of a ‘success’ someone is making of themselves. It’s all too easy to feel inadequate because our real life doesn’t measure up to the perfect image projected by others.

Lesson 9: A Career Doesn’t Have to Be a Calling

There are some careers – think science – that you have to pursue like a lion and a gazelle. You have to do the right A Levels, the right degree, maybe even take it to Masters and a PhD. But many graduates go on to do something that’s unrelated. For example, just because you did English Lit doesn’t mean you have to be a writer. Understanding your loves, your strengths, and what you want from life is key.

Find your ‘career sweet spot’ with 1-2-1 graduate coaching >>

Lesson 10: Everyone Makes Mistakes

It’s true. From little hiccups to great big whoppers, no one’s perfect. Think of them as lessons rather than mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned. Growth doesn’t come from perfection. It comes from challenges and mistakes, and every experience is an opportunity to learn and improve.

Featured image by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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