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Dealing with Post-University Blues; Life After University

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

By Tanesha Blackman

You’ve done it. You’ve graduated. That feeling is such a great feeling. All those years of studying and you’ve finally finished. No more lectures. No more late night library sessions. No more stressing to find the last couple of words to meet the word count and get your coursework in before the deadline. You’re at an all-time high! Then, the thrill begins to wear off. Reality hits and anxiety begins to creep up on you. That dreaded question pops into your head…

“What’s next?”

It’s time to enter the working world. Time to start looking for that career. It’s possible you started your search before you graduated. You may have had a couple of interviews in your chosen sector but didn’t land any jobs and that’s okay. It’s difficult when you’re seeing other people land graduate jobs or get places on schemes and you still haven’t been able to put your foot through the door. That doesn’t mean it’s time to give up.

Many people experience low mood and anxiety after graduation. That feeling of security that education provides has washed away. The routine and structure that as humans we need is no longer there. You’re in a season of transition. That’s the important thing to remember – it’s just a season. An important season.

When we are in positions that seem bleak we need to learn to reframe them so that we can persevere and rise above.

This new season can be:

1. A time to find out who you really are

2. A season to discover what it is you really want to do

3. A quiet period to set goals and targets for yourself

Let's look at this in a bit more details:

1. A time to find out who you really are

This point can really be split into two. Firstly, it is often in the toughest of moments that our characters are strengthened. Just as diamonds are made under pressure, the human character is polished during difficulties. You learn patience, humility, perseverance and so many other beautiful character traits. It’s just up to you to reframe your situation and deal with it in a particular manner.

Secondly, finding out who you are is also regarding your likes, your dislikes, your interests, your passions. You may have discovered some of these during your university journey but now you have a period where you can really reflect. Reflection is important as it gives the chance to pause, acknowledge and evaluate what is going on and how to move forward. In university it’s easy to be influenced by peers and others but now you’re away from the hustle and bustle… who are you? Outside of being a student, what else is there to your being? What do you bring to those around you that nobody else can?

Some questions to reflect on who you are:

o What are your values?

o Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

o When are you at your happiest?

o What makes you feel low?

o What is the type of company you keep?

o What are you passionate about?

o What are habits I need to unlearn and habits I need to form?

2. A season to discover what it is you really want to do

During the final year of my undergraduate degree I just knew law was not the career path for me. I started applying for other jobs where my skills would be transferable such as working in Human Resources or other admin jobs. So many applications completed and so many rejections received in return. I was so confused to what I was doing wrong. I had to recalculate, and think is this really where my heart is? Am I just doing it for the money? To please others? For the sake of having a job? Long story short, I went back to university and done a postgraduate degree in a different field. A field that my heart was in and I don’t regret it one bit.

Now, to be clear I am not saying to just give up and try a different field, but I am saying make sure what you’re striving for is something that your heart is in. Maybe it’s a thing where you want to start your own business. Or you wish to go back to university and get a masters or PhD or learn something completely different.

Things to think about when discovering what you want to do:

o What are your strengths?

o What areas do you need to develop?

o What excites you?

o How would you describe yourself?

o How would others describe you?

o What skills do you have?

o What career path can you envision yourself going down?

3. A quiet period to set goals and targets for yourself

So now you’ve had time to think about who you are as a person and piece that into your future plans; it’s time to set targets for yourself and short term goals to reach those targets. It’s time to make use of the self-reflection and create an action plan to move forward. Also having goals and targets gives you something to look forward to. It can help to add structure and routine to your day.

Some goals/targets you may think of:

o Ways to improve your CV

o Getting short time/part time job to earn money

o Starting your own business

o Steps to getting the job you want

All in all, in this period you are not alone. Many graduates are facing the same battles and emotions. There is support out there for you. Many universities offer job hunting services after you’ve graduated. If your situation is affecting your mental wellbeing know that there are people to talk to and services to contact. As I said before, this is just a season and every season comes to an end.

It’s about creating a light in the midst of a dark period!
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