This week my social media feeds have been saturated with photos of graduates in their cap and gowns beaming from ear to ear surrounded by proud-as-punch parents and family.
It might have been a few years ago now that I graduated myself, but I remember the cocktail of feelings like it was yesterday. Relief that the stress was all over, coupled with excitement and pride, the jovial fear of falling over on stage as you collect your degree, and that very real and daunting prospect that in just a few weeks you will officially be a graduate, looking for work, and in the real world. And that, my friends, is scary when you have spent the last 17 years of your life in full-time education.
So, here are my top tips for people who are just graduating.
Never compare yourself or feel jealous
It’s so easy to feel the pressure mounting up, particularly when other friends might have secured seemingly great graduate jobs and you can’t even get an interview but don’t let that make you give up. Becoming a graduate automatically makes you prone to the “what are you doing when you’ve graduated?” question, but that doesn’t always have to be a job. Remember you’ll be spending the next 40 plus years in your working life, so if you don’t get something straight away use this opportunity to have a bit of a break, tot up on your employability skills, and build some life experiences.
Spend that extra time working on your CV
Your university will no doubt have an employability team full of experienced staff who can help you tart up your CV, so take advantage of that while you can and are still a student. You’d have to pay for that kind of service outside university, and it’s a really worthwhile thing to do. Remember your CV is the first impression you are making- you wouldn’t turn up on a first date without putting in any leg work before hand, so why should your CV be any different?
Don’t fret about the future or self-doubt
It’s easy get embroiled in worrying about a ‘master career plan’ or wondering whether jobs will be the right ‘fit’. Obviously take time when you are deciding about where to apply, and don’t apply to places where you don’t see yourself gaining valuable experience, but don’t ever be put off applying because you’re worried about how the job will fit into your future or you don’t think you’re good enough. A) the worst that is going to happen is you don’t get an interview and b) you are not a tree- if you find yourself in a job you don’t like or doesn’t fit around the life you want, you can always move!
Stalk people on Linkedin
Seriously, I’m not joking. I still do this today. Everyone has to start somewhere, and looking at people who are in jobs you see yourself in in 10, 20 even 30 years time will really help give you an understanding of how exactly they got there, and what type of path you might need to take. It will also help you put everything into perspective and keep you focused on your goals. Don’t be afraid to connect with people you’re interested in working for either- just make sure your profile is up to scratch first.
Set achievable goals... and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve them straight away
You’ve graduated with a great degree, and you feel like the world is your oyster. Sure, set your standards high, but cut yourself some slack. On average, over 100 people apply for each single job, and out of those 100, only around 20% will get an interview. Therefore, by law of averages, you’re bound to get a rejection letter at some point. Don’t beat yourself up about it! There will be people with a lot more experience than you going for the same jobs, but don’t let that put you off applying again elsewhere. Learn from each application, and if it’s appropriate, ask for some feedback. Rome wasn’t built in a day.