You’d think after the numerous times of mentioning how stressed I am, that I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown and constantly fretting about my future that I wouldn’t be the best person to write this post at this current point in time. But, before I lose you, I’ve been doing some reading. And I’ve started to calm down about my ever-pressing graduation date and have some words of wisdom to share with you all.
For those of us that have only a few months left until that final assignment is handed in or exam is taken (three months for me!), we can all unite in our worried state. Perhaps you’re reading this and you already have a job lined up or you have your next step in place – congratulations, you are blessed. But for those of us who are currently looking at a sign pointed in different directions and have no clue as to which one to follow; it’s going to be okay.
The next few months are going to fly past, and if like me, you haven’t really started to reach out to anyone or look for jobs yet, do not worry. I know that I don’t want to undertake a graduate scheme, and at this point, most of those positions will be full by now. I don’t know where I want to go, what kind of job I want or what I want my next 12 months to look like. The only thing I do know is that I would like to be somewhere new and loving whatever it is that I’m doing.
So how do we remain calm knowing our graduation is only five months away? And how do we prepare ourselves for life after graduation when we don’t know where to even begin? Let me give you a few tips.
1. Look at time in small chunks
This was the best piece of advice that I read and it really made me look at things differently and start to calm down.
Don’t look at life after graduation as ‘the rest of your life’ – break it down. Look at the next six months of your life from right now. You’ll finish university and graduate. Where would you like to be when July comes? What do you want to spend your summer doing? Maybe you want to find a short internship, go travelling for the summer or spend the summer back at home.
Then look at September – December; the end of 2019. What would you like to be doing then? Would you like to be in a full-time job? Would you like to be living in Australia? Or would you rather be back at home and saving money for 2020? Any of these options are completely valid and you need to think what will suit you and your circumstances best.
2. DON’T compare your progress to other graduates
I know this is probably going to be the hardest, but everyone moves at their own time. If you hear about people going for interviews, being offered jobs left, right and centre or even being head-hunted – don’t despair, your time will come.
I know how disheartening it is to see friends and acquaintances announce big wins on Instagram and Facebook like, “Omg, can’t believe I’ve just been offered my dream job and am moving to New York in a few months!!” We should be happy for them, but it’s a very bittersweet feeling. Yes, it’s amazing that they’re doing well and achieving great things but of course it is only natural to feel a pang of jealousy and wonder how that can be you writing such statuses in the near future.
I’m trying to prepare myself now for posts like these, so that when the time comes I’m happy with my own situation and not feeling envious at other students’ success when I’m not experiencing any myself. Try not to compare your journey to others. We’re all on different paths and we’ll end up where we’re meant to be in due course.
3. What would you do if social media didn’t exist?
This is quite linked to the point above, but I think we would live our lives so completely differently if we didn’t have social media or invest so much of our time on it. Ashamedly, in the last seven days, I have spent 33 hours on my phone. Almost 27 of those hours were spent on social media. 27 hours spent watching other people’s lives on Instagram and Snapchat and reading other people’s thoughts on Twitter.
With each person’s life I’m watching on Instagram, the more negative I am towards my own. Today is probably one of the worst examples. It’s Valentine’s Day and the majority of posts are pictures of roses, chocolates and cards and waking up to the perfect relationship. Think of this though, how many people do you think received something nice today and didn’t post about it on social media? To whose benefit is the post? Is it appreciation to your partner? Is it to show off to everyone else how amazing your partner is? Or is it just to keep up with everyone else to stop the ‘Ooh, they haven’t posted on social media, things mustn’t be too rosy in their relationship’? Maybe some of our most cherished moments are best kept in private.
Then again, I get a lot of motivation from the people I follow on social media. The likes of Sinead Hegarty (@sineadheg) who is traveling around Australia, Thailand and Bali, Beth Sandland (@bethsandland) who is currently doing the same and Siobhan O’Hagan (@ohfitness_ie) who has no permanent address and moves from island to island. I was going to bed last night when Siobhan was walking along a beach in Bali at 6.30am to the sunrise and you could hear the waves crashing in the background. People like them give me the motivation to work towards my goals and someday have lifestyles like theirs.
4. Focus on the now
We all constantly look towards the future and think, I’ll be happier when I have that or, I’ll be happier when I’ve lost weight or, I’ll be happier once I settle into a full-time job – but when these times do come, do we celebrate and finally feel happier? Unfortunately not. When those times do come, we usually think towards another goal, pushing our happiness into the future once again.
Take a minute and look at where you are now. Be content with your current and then you can celebrate success in the future. We must celebrate the small things, otherwise nothing will ever be worth celebrating.
This might be the final year in education for a lot of us. Cherish the mornings we have in bed, the nights out on weekdays, living with your friends or seeing them all the time. A lot of us won’t have such free time in the near future, so enjoy your last year of education.
5. Start planning
You can’t really avoid the thought of graduation during the last six months of your degree. It lingers in the back of your mind constantly and it’s another bit of weight added to your shoulders. So the best thing to do is to start planning for it. Planning should also help with the stress of it all.
Think about your personal brand. When employers search you online, what will they find? Get your LinkedIn page up to scratch, visit your careers department to help fix your CV and start having a look at what your options are. Researching is going to take up a lot of your time. I’m usually sat at my laptop, down the Indeed rabbit hole during the early hours of the morning and then by this point I’m on the verge of a breakdown, so I wouldn’t recommend doing that. Take it in small strides. Make a list of what you think you would like to be doing after graduation. Start researching to see if your options will be feasible.
Reach out to people. This seems to be the one piece of advice a lot of us have problems with. We’re scared to get in contact with people, but what’s the worst that can happen? No reply to your email? A job offer? Who knows what can come out of an email to someone with your dream job. They may even give you some amazing advice. Get your name out there.
6. Don’t jump at the first offer that comes along
I’m going to leave you with this one. You might worry that you won’t receive any offers and so, jump at the first job you are accepted for. Are you desperate for a job, desperate to appear like you have your life in order or just scared of saying ‘No’? The most important thing to think about is what you want. This is going to be your job for the foreseeable future – make sure it’s one that you like.
You might not agree with me, but I believe that everything happens for a reason and what’s for us, won’t pass us. The right job/path will be opened up to us, we just need to be sure in ourselves whether it is the right choice to accept or decline and seek out the next opportunity. Who knows what the next six months has in store for any of us? Don’t plan for a future that may not happen – live in the now and let it evolve.
Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.