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Student blogs: You've finished university — now what?

When you finish university, there seems to be two feelings that you get. One is that lovely feeling that you are ready to take on the world. The other, more common I’ve found, is that you have no idea where to go next, or what to do.

While it would be lovely to think "I’m coming out of university with a career lined up", that does not always work for everyone. Not to say that couldn’t be you. It may just surprise you how quickly you get that job you wanted when you leave university. This is going to be a slightly realist outlook on what to expect.

You + Everyone Else

You apply for that dream job. Why wouldn’t they hire you? You have completed university somewhat unscathed, you are a wonderful (if you do say so yourself) person. They would be a fool not to hire you.

Except… that is what is going to go through your head and maybe the heads of hundreds of other applicants. Some will have specific experience that will outweigh yours, some may have a nicer looking CV. Some employers may not even get to yours.

We Want 30 Years of Experience

It may seem like a stereotype or an overdramatised reality, but it is true. These days, people tend to want more for less. They want experts in everything. Everything is instant gratification and training someone just… takes up time. But they still want to be able to pay someone who has the experience a beginners wage. They are, after all, still new to the job.

Be prepared to see this advertised on job roles. Not so much the 30 years, but definitely 1-5 years experience. Apply anyway. Can the type of work you do can be put into a portfolio? Then create a portfolio. You may not have 1-5 years experience working in that entry level role, but you have talent, you have gumption, and you have the work to prove it.

The Right Fit

You finally get a job, it looks interesting and different and... it isn’t anything like you expected it to be. Preparing for a job in the field of your choice usually involves a lot of guess work (or nights of researching — it depends on the type of person you are). It also means that when you end up there, you may be surprised by how much it doesn’t meet your expectations.

This can be a great thing, if you unexpectedly find yourself doing something that you really like. It can also be bad. It may be that despite training for something, when you are in the situation, you don’t enjoy it. This is perfectly normal. Recently, in an internship I thought I would adore, I ended up enjoying the aspects of the job that had nothing to do with what I had originally studied and trained for.

It Will Be Hard

The biggest task when venturing out into the ‘real world’ will be the comparisons that you find yourself making: between the familiarity and structure of student life and the uncertain route that lies before you; between yourself and friends or course-mates who seem to know what they are doing, with jobs or careers already lined up.

Don’t do it. Everyone runs at their own pace. You may find that you want to go onto do another degree, or travel, or just take some time to yourself to celebrate the whole ‘no more school’ for a while mentality. Everything will be okay. It will be hard, do not get me wrong, when you remember that you’re in a pool of other talented people from all walks of life… but it will be interesting and fun, too.

Finding your footing can take weeks, months and even years after you stand on that stage and get your diploma. Just remember that there is no set of rules, take your time — you will find out what works for you.

Hollie is an English and Creative Writing graduate from Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she is about to embark on an MA in Journalism. She is also a lover of cake, coffee and TV.

Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.

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