It has now been a year since I officially graduated from University – although to be honest, it feels like a lifetime ago that I was a student! But I feel like I have a lot of wisdom to share to all the uni leavers out there, so today I’m going to be giving my best advice for recent graduates.
For me, leaving uni felt amazing at the time. My degree was 5 years long, which is such a long time to be doing the same thing, so I was really ready to move onto something else. However, I’ll be honest and say that things didn’t go 100% smoothly and I found the transition from student life to working life quite difficult.
As a bit of context – I also moved city immediately after graduating, which was also a big transition. But regardless, I think it’s important to remember that moving on from the frivolity of student life to the hard reality of the working world is never going to be easy!
Be prepared to adjust your lifestyle
The biggest change from uni to working is the routine. Whereas there is a good deal of flexibility at university, there is not much when you start working full time. When studying, you basically have a set amount of work to do and you get to decide when you want to do it. When you work, it doesn’t matter how fast you do work (there’s always more to be done!) and you have set hours that you have to do it. Being a morning person or a night owl won’t change the fact you have to be in work and leave work at a certain time.
This is one of the things I struggled with the most at first. I found working hours so restrictive and felt like there was just no time at all left over to do what I wanted to do. However, it does get easier and you realise that there is time to do the things you want but you have to be smarter about it.
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to be prepared for your life to change. But also, take time to recognise the benefits of the change as well as the inconveniences. You’ll be getting paid (HALLELUJAH!), you’ll be meeting new people who you wouldn’t have met otherwise and you start to really appreciate weekends.
Be open to new opportunities
Prior to leaving university, I had quite a specific idea of what I wanted to do afterwards. I had it in my head that I couldn’t be happy in a job if it wasn’t in an industry or for a company ‘that I loved’ – basically, if it wasn’t in fashion, beauty or some form of retail.
However, I was completely wrong. You can find jobs that you would never have thought you would do before and be so happy. For example, now I work for a business-to-business marketing agency and publisher. I love it. Did I ever imagine that is what I’d be doing? No. But right now I wouldn’t want to be working anywhere else.
The point I’m trying to make is that you have to be open to opportunities. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into one type of job or industry, because you will find it much harder. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t chase your dreams – if you have your heart set on doing something, go for it. All I would say is that you can advance your career faster and get really valuable experience when you open yourself up to other opportunities.
Try not to compare yourself
Comparison on social media is something that I’m sure a lot of people are used to – but normally it comes from channels like Instagram. However, after uni there’s a new source of comparison: LinkedIn. You’ll see your peers starting to update their job status on there and it can get a bit difficult not to compare what you are doing with what everyone else is doing.
I personally found this quite hard. I went through a bit of a tough time when I felt like everyone else was more successful than me, making way more money than me and that I was getting left behind. But trust me, it’s really silly to think this way.
Not everyone is going to take the same sort of career path after uni. Some people will get onto grad schemes straight away, others will go travelling, others get entry level jobs. But how you start off your career does not determine how successful you are going to be in the future. Hard work and dedication is what determines that.
Learning does not stop when you graduate
You might think that once you leave uni your studies are over – but oh no! Learning does not stop after you graduate and personally, I’d recommend you make a conscious effort to up-skill.
The job market is a challenging place for new graduates. You’re up against thousands of people with the same qualifications, so you have to do something to make yourself stand out. Learning new skills that you couldn’t at uni is a good place to start.
Digital skills are a good place to start in my opinion, but there’s so much you can learn about for free or for a small amount of money online. I had a LinkedIn Learning subscription which I found so useful for learning about things like Google AdWords and TagManager.
So there you have it – my best advice for recent graduates! I hope this will be helpful to any of you out there who have just left uni, or even those of you who are still studying at the moment. I get quite a few questions about jobs and things like that over on Instagram, so if you want to ask me anything specific please feel free to DM me over there!