☆ This is a collaborative post ☆
Congratulations, you’ve finished university with a freshly pressed degree in hand! And you are ready to take on the world, or at least, you will be as soon as you figure out what you want to do.
Welcome to the adulting crisis!
What a lot of students forget is how stressful and packed with activities and duties the university years are. For many students, it’s the very first time living away from mom and dad – and that means you’re going to explore this new sense of freedom thoroughly during your first year. That first year serves only as a life-size experiment to define your new boundaries. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring your studies, but it certainly means that you are not thinking a lot about your future career at this point. Unfortunately, with every further year, you learn new skills and facts that push away considerations about your career. You need to learn about a tonne of new things, from writing the perfect essay to managing your love life. Figuring out what you want to do when you left university is like an impressionist painting. You get the main idea, but you can’t make out the details. Surely, you tell yourself, you’ve got plenty of time to find the career that suits you.
Except that time is a curious thing. It runs away at high speed from you, and before you know it, you’re invited to your own graduation party. Yesterday, you were still a teen full of dreams, and today you’ve ready to enter the adult world of full-time employment. Goodbye childhood, hello adulting stress. With horror, you realise that you are still not quite sure what to make out of your life and your newly found independence. There is no easy solution. But one thing is for sure; it’s highly unlikely you’ll land your ideal job right after graduating. But don’t let this fact make you uneasy. Your career is a journey that takes you through a path of self-improvement, both in terms of professional know-how – don’t believe what you’ve heard at university, no degree prepares you for the reality of the business world – and emotional stability. At the beginning of your journey, it’s normal to feel nervous, confused and even a little scared. It’s okay. Embrace the first lesson of adulting, aka finding out what you want to do with your life.
Nothing seems to fit after university
Up until your graduation, you can’t say that you’ve had a realistic experience of real life. Ultimately, you’ve been stuck in the education system from a young age. And while it got you where you are now – with a brand new degree in your pocket, congrats! –, it also kept you away from figuring out what life is after school. When you’re faced with a new world of responsibilities – such as looking after yourself for the first time and earning a living – you might find out answering a real-life question is a lot more difficult than writing an essay. What are you going to do after uni, and, more importantly, what is life made of when you’ve got no time for parties, friends, and last minute night-time studying anymore? Welcome to the first stage of your adulting crisis.
Now’s the moment when you finally ask yourself what you want to do, and when you realise that nothing in the education system has prepared you for this. You might have a dream job in mind, but ultimately, you have to be realistic: what do you really know of your dream job aside from what you’ve read about it? The truth is that the business world is a million miles away from the expectations you have of it as a student. In other words, you may struggle to fit in. Whether it’s your dream job not being as satisfying and happy as you imagined it would be, or you simply can’t make up your mind about what to do next, you have to remember yourself of something important. This moment, the doubt you feel, is part of the learning process. It’s the first of many lessons you need to learn to move on with your adult life. Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to go through it on your own. You can get in touch with recruiting agents who are trained to help you to identify your strengths and potential interests. Alternatively, you can also decide to explore the path of adulthood alone.
There’s a big word outside, go and explore
If you leave university after an academic degree – generally your bachelor’s degree is the first step, and it takes on average 3 years –, you’re likely to have spent a minimum of 15 years at school. In other words, it’s been 15 years of going back home to do your homework, finish learning the lessons of the day and prepare for a variety of exams. You are free of all that so you could use that freedom to find out what the world has to offer. The reason why most students choose to have a gap year at the end of their studies is that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make new experiences.
Travelling is by far the preferred gap year choice, as it gives you the chance to find out more about the world we live in and build up your life experience. Admittedly, embarking on a long journey can be expensive, even with your savings so you might want to find a way to unlock some funds. Some students choose to work in a small job, such as a restaurant or a shop, to prepare their travel budget. Others can’t bear to wait and use a mixture of savings and small loans – you can find handy guarantor loans from Buddy Loans that can help you for small sums. You might even choose to take small jobs while exploring the world to finance your travel if you’re worried about money being a problem. But, ultimately, your travel adventure can help you to discover the key themes of your adult life at your own pace.
Backpacking through the world teaches you an essential lesson about budgeting. You know you can’t afford to run out of money, and therefore you are very cautious about how much you spend and what you buy. You also learn to look after yourself in ways you haven’t before, by being entirely independent – there’s no taking a train back home over the weekend to bring back some of your mom’s dishes with you. More importantly, you can seize the chance to think about your future and the things you enjoy doing, utilizing every opportunity to meet and talk to new people – you never know who will inspire you.
Try out a few things until you figure out what works
Not every student is excited at the prospect of a gap year. Many are worried that they might end up wasting precious time in their career. Admittedly, they don’t understand that the time spent travelling can be part of your self-growth journey and can help to find yourself. But, if travelling isn’t for you, you might have well start with a job. You may not know what your dream job is, but you probably have some ideas about the kind of things that might interest you. So what’s stopping you from applying to a position to try it out and discover a new field? You may not have the necessary experience, but it doesn’t mean you are not a suitable candidate. Remember that you might have transferable skills or knowledge that can be relevant. Highlighting your traits, your understanding of a role, your willingness to learn, and your soft skills can help you to get an entry-level job. It’s the best way to explore and learn.
Do something meaningful for others
You’re not sure, but you don’t want to travel aimlessly. You want to have something purposeful to put on your CV after taking a break before the start of your career. In that case, you should research volunteering programme options from Volunteer HQ, which can encourage you to help people or animals abroad. Volunteering is not only a worthy experience to put on your CV, but it also brings you plenty of positive and valuable skills, from communication to motivation. Additionally, you get to try out a variety of jobs, from teaching to planning supplies which can be inspirational for your career.
Stop telling yourself you need to find the right job from the start
Last, but not least, finding your ideal job takes time. Don’t give up because you are struggling to find a path that fits. Most people change career throughout their life. It’s healthy to follow your heart and find a job that makes you happy, and therefore it’s fair to say that your job expectations will vary as you learn more about life and yourself. It’s okay to start somewhere and realise that it’s not what you need. Don’t put pressure on yourself!
Nobody likes becoming an adult; it makes life so complicated! But the best thing you can do for yourself is to give yourself the time to figure out how to best start your journey to adulthood. Accept that you don’t know what happens after uni and explore the paths available.
Until next time ♡