Navigating Life After Graduation
Discover what to expect after graduation.
This article was written by Emily Harrison, a graduate from the University of Birmingham.
Graduating is hard enough, but graduating into a post-pandemic, current pandemic, whatever on earth we are currently in, world is even harder. Trying to navigate what the next steps you want to take are, whilst also still processing the fact that you’ve just graduated and are leaving your life of 1-3 years (or even more) behind is tricky and confusing.
So how do we do it? How can we make our lives easier when navigating life after graduation?
Take a break
I took this quite literally after I graduated. I wanted to have one long, final summer where I didn’t have to think about anything or take anything too seriously. My housemates and I all got COVID in the final week of living in our Birmingham house, so we all agreed that we needed to make the most out of our summer and have a proper send off!
The last thing I wanted to do after graduating was think about my next steps. In hindsight, I wish that I maybe hadn’t put off thinking about it quite as much as I did. But we all need some time to regain our sanity.
Graduating from an undergraduate or postgraduate course is a massive achievement that needs plenty of celebrating and rest! Even if that means watching your favourite show for days on end or going on holidays with your friends. How you feel like you need to relax is the best way to relax.
There is so much pressure to have your life plan all sorted out after graduating, but it doesn’t matter if you’re still figuring out what you want to do. Everyone is moving at their own pace in life. There is no need to rush things until you’re ready.
Try not to compare your life to others
This is inevitably a lot easier in theory than it is in practice. You’ll probably be bombarded with plenty of questions. Friends, family members, friends of the family, hairdressers, and everyone you come across are all armed with the question: “what are you going to do now you’ve graduated?”
I spent a lot of time looking at what my recently graduated friends were doing and asking myself “why am I not where they are?” and “why am I not there yet?” The thing is, it doesn’t matter where other people are. A lot of people who I thought were ‘there’ were just as clueless or uncertain as the rest of us. You might find that people much older than you are still figuring things out and that’s completely okay!
Where do I start?
So, you’ve taken the time to relax and now you’re not sure what to do next. It can be daunting looking at all the different options that are out there. The first place I looked at after graduating was the University of Birmingham’s very own careers network, Careers Connect. As a UoB graduate you can also get a variety of support from the Careers Network which includes application support, LinkedIn Learning, and more general advice.
Careers connect was where I found my graduate internship within the Postgraduate Student Recruitment and Marketing team. I joined the internship programme which has helped me start to slowly figure out what it is that I want — and don’t want — to do.
I also spent a lot of time on job sites just scrolling and scrolling. It can feel like a monotonous activity, but it is a good idea to read through job descriptions to get an idea of what it is employers are looking for and what it is you want.
Next steps for me
Really, I’m still just trying to figure out the right path for me. Coming to terms with the realization that you might not have everything completely figured out is okay — there isn’t a rush to settle down.
More and more recently, people find themselves moving between jobs and changing their direction. There is less of a focus on having your specific path lined up for you and having it all figured out. Graduating from an undergraduate or postgraduate degree makes you go from being the big fish in the little pond to being the little fish in the big pond. It can be overwhelming, but with some research and utilizing the services available, it makes it less daunting.
Explore your adventure at the University of Birmingham