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Finishing University- What’s next?

University is such an important part of someone’s education. It’s a time when you get a brilliant qualification in whatever career path you chose, but also a time when you truly begin to feel independent. Whether it’s moving out of your home for student accommodation or simply having more freedom over your education and assessments, university is when you start to really grow into your own person.

However, when this part of your life concludes, it’s common to feel a sense of misdirection. You’ve studied for years of your life, but now you’re at the stage when most people move into their chosen careers. While getting a job after finishing university sounds great on paper, often it’s not as easy as it sounds, and with all that’s been happening with the world over recent months and COVID-19 changing so much, it’s not the ideal time for anyone to finish their studies.

I personally understand this, as I’ve recently finished a three-year course of journalism and politics, with the final year of my studies arguably being one of the most stressful parts of my life, especially with the adaptions needed for working from home; as well as the major assignments.

For courses that have very competitive end careers, such as journalism, it’s already going to be difficult to make your way into the industry you want to be apart of. My goal at the moment is to finally get a job at a newspaper office or a PR agency, and while I’ve got the experience and the tutoring required, I haven’t had much luck finding vacancies. I would imagine this is a similar story to a lot of graduates so believe me when I say I know how frustrating it can be. After so much hard work, slaving away at deadlines, trying to achieve the best mark possible and eventually getting that degree, only to awkwardly stumble trying to get where you’ve been aiming to go for long.

It’s hard, it’s stressful and you might even say it’s unfair, but the important thing to remember is that you’re not the only one. Take a bit of comfort knowing that there’s nothing personally wrong with you, you’re in the same boat as so many other students scrambling for their careers and it’s been the same story in the years prior to this, when there wasn’t a global pandemic shutting doors. Just don’t let that herd mentality make you complacent, no matter how hard you worked at university; it isn’t likely that someone is going to get in touch and offer you a job on a silver platter, just don’t let this quiet time knock your confidence.

With this in mind, I wanted to write this post detailing a few things newly graduated students should take into consideration if they’re feeling stressed, unmotivated, or simply unhappy with their current situation.

Firstly, if you are not already, aim for any form of employment you can. Having a degree in an industry you want to work for unfortunately does not mean you’re guaranteed a job straight away. In the meantime, it’s important to have a bit of work, even if it’s just something small to keep you going. It also brings many benefits such as a paid income, work experience to add to a CV, routine in your life, and finally a feeling of independence.

Secondly, utilise your free time wisely. It’s perfectly acceptable to give yourself some rest after a long stretch of studying but it’s another thing entirely to become complacent. In my newly acquired free time, I’ve been working on a blog for myself and some of my family members, which I’ve been counting as something enjoyable, since I like writing, while also being productive as it ties into my studies at university and uses many of the same skills. I’d highly recommend doing something like this or having fun with one of your own hobbies, or even starting a new one. You can do this at the same time as looking for work experience or jobs to give you something to do. Remember to pace yourself with it, it’s supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t be too critical of whatever it is.

Thirdly, work placements in your chosen career are always useful. At the time of writing this, remote work placements are very common. While this might not be ideal as working remotely means you can miss the workplace atmosphere, you’d get by physically being there, it’s still great experience and the more you complete, the more you can add to a CV, to show you’re keen to get started properly and have had a varied amount of practise. I’d encourage any student whether they’re just starting university or have recently finished it to take any placement opportunity they can.

Fourth, try to maintain a good mentality. I’ve reached interview phases for jobs and not been successful, despite feeling I was more than qualified. It’s not a nice feeling, but it’s never the end of the world. Failure is one of the greatest teachers so it would be wise to consider why you haven’t been successful, or better yet, ask directly in a respectful manner what you need to work on, so you can improve on it for the future. Of course, it isn’t always something you can control but it’s worth asking about if it will improve your chances later.

Finally, never be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes you need a bit of assistance, whether it’s from family, friends, your tutors, or other sources. Never be afraid of accepting help when it’s offered. You don’t have to struggle alone, and you should always seek assistance if anything is affecting your mental health.

While these tips might be seen as obvious, sometimes I think it’s necessary to reiterate or simply remind people of things like this. Graduates are now at a crucial time in their lives so it’s important to provide as much help as possible and I sincerely hope this helps someone remember the important things and feel a little better about their situation. Thanks for reading.

Sam is a University of Salford graduate where he studied a joint course of journalism and PR

Sam can be contacted on LikedIn-

Note: 'Student Blog' articles 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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