Originally published in The Time Issue, Spring 2016
Graduation is looming ever closer and I’m trying to enjoy my last few months of being a student, but something’s holding me back. Almost every other day, another of my friends announces they’ve been given an internship, or a job offer, or they’ve made plans to go travelling, or have been accepted for a postgrad. I want to be happy for them, but panic and envy have started to creep in, as I’m not sure what I’m going to do after graduation. Surrounded by all their successes I feel inadequate, and without firm plans like theirs, I’m scared for what the future holds. How can I overcome this, before it ruins my last few months of university? – Fear or the Unknown
The run up to graduation is potentially the most terrifying, but most exciting part of our university careers. Faced with the daunting prospect of going out into the ‘real world’, figuring out what it is we actually want to do with the rest of our lives, and then working out how to actually achieve that, it’s no wonder so many final year students worry about what the future holds. Whether it’s finding a proper Grown-Up Job, applying to go back to university for further education, or just figuring out how the hell you’re going to afford everything without your student loan to fall back on, there’s a lot to consider in the run up to graduation. However, it’s also an incredibly exciting time, filled with amazing opportunities and possibilities. The hardest part though, is often finding them.
It might seem like everyone else has their post-graduation lives figured out, and it can be difficult to put on a smile and celebrate your friends’ successes if you feel like yours have yet to materialise. It’s important to remember, though, that whilst others may seem like they’re breezing through to transition from student to adult, they will not be without their own worries or fears. They may have had a job offer, but it might be miles away from their loved ones. They may have been offered a place to study for a postgrad, but be worried about how they’re going to finance it. They may have made plans to travel, but be worried about finding work abroad, or have fears about what they will do when they return home. The future is uncertain for all of us, and everyone has concerns about their life as a graduate; even those who seem to have their shit together.
There are still a few months until graduation; this means there’s still time to secure a grad job or another plan of action before your time as a student is over. If you haven’t already, take some time to sit down and think about what it is you want to do as a graduate, and if there are opportunities to do so. The university’s career service offer a range of information online, as well as the opportunity speak to a careers advisor, to help give you some ideas and point you in the right direction to your perfect graduate job.
If you don’t know what you want to do after graduation though, that’s totally okay – loads of students take some time out after graduating to figure out what route they want to go down, and given the significance of the decision they’re making, can you blame them? Sometimes this means working in a bar or shop to make sure the bills get paid, or maybe it means moving back home for a while. For a lucky few, it’s an opportunity to do a bit of travelling. This time can be used to either really think about what career path you want to go down, continue to apply for grad jobs, apply for postgrad courses you may have missed out on applying for this year, or even just enjoy having a bit of a break from full time education before going straight into full-time work for the rest of your life. However you spend it though, try not to see it as time wasted, or a failure on your part. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find work as a graduate, and many students are faced with this reality every year. This is not a sign of inadequacy though, and not something that should be internalised, but rather just a nasty side effect of living in an increasingly educated population in an already competitive job market. If you do struggle to find something to do after graduation, think of this as another opportunity – when else in your life will you have this kind of freedom over what you choose to do with it? Until then though, focus on enjoying your last few months of university, and when the right opportunity comes along, you’ll know what to do.
[Hannah Burke – @hannahcburke_]
Want to submit to Dear qmunicate?
Submit your asks at qmunicate.tumblr.com/ask
Email us (all submissions will be anonymous) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or begin texts with QMU to 01138590690