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5 things about post-graduation life (That can only be learned the hard way!)

Lara is a recent international graduate from a UK university. In a new feature for GradLink, she'll be sharing her experiences in her journey towards beginning her graduate career. This week, Lara reveals 5 tough lessons every post-grad needs to learn…

To a third year university student, finally graduating seems like the doorway to a life free of stress, budgeting crises, and endless pasta dinners. Instead, what faces fresh graduates is the sudden realisation that life without the structure of an educational institution is well, quite daunting!

There are no annual timetables, no lecture schedules, and no Christmas holidays. Suddenly, all we have on our hands is an endless stretch of free time… Now what?

The post-graduation period is one that is not often openly discussed. No one wants to admit just how terrifying it is at first to be out there in the so-called ‘real world’, but this article is here to change that! Although each graduate’s experience is different, these 5 things are common traps that most fresh graduates are bound to encounter.

It’s tough out there, but you’re not alone!

It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, lost, and a little bit confused at this stage. The good news is, there are tens of thousands of fresh graduates feeling the exact same way you’re feeling, and it’s all right! Being fresh out of university and fresh into full-fledged adulthood puts you at the vulnerable position of being a newbie all over again. Remember that feeling of bewilderment and borderline panic you felt on your first day of uni? Just as you justified that feeling, you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much for feeling the same way now.

According to Bloomberg, this year marks the lowest unemployment rate amongst fresh graduates, a fall to 4.6% from the staggering 7.7% that followed the recession. The drop in unemployment was matched by a spike in underemployment, however, which means that many of the fresh graduates were finding jobs that did not require university degrees. Despite that statistic sounding a little bit discouraging, it definitely does not mean that your three years’ worth of sweat, blood and tears were pointless! All it incurs is that the job market is more malleable than ever before. Finding your dream job from the get-go is not as easy, which only means that you have to find prospects in neighbouring opportunities until you work your way to that ideal post!

Put your winning smile forth: it’s time to make some friends!

Stumbling around from lecture halls to dining halls, from clubs to pubs and from dorm rooms to student houses meant that making friends was an easy feat to tackle. People from all walks of life surrounded you, and so your social choices were primarily dependent on who is more of a laugh to be around.

The key to maintaining and enriching your social king/queen status, now that you’ve moved on from the lively university environment, is to always stay proactive. Attending local events and seeking out like-minded people is vital at this point of your life. Make sure you surround yourself with individuals who encourage you to strive for self-improvement and positivity, as facing the world with the right crowd makes it a whole lot better. Insider tip: joining completely altered my life after moving back to Dubai. My days of solitude were replaced by daily prospects of meeting new people whilst undertaking activities that nourished my creative and productive side. Just make sure you choose groups that are beneficial to your networking goals, and which would pull you closer to the types of people you want to surround yourself with!   

Radio silence is real, until it isn’t.

Sending out dozens of exceptional resumes and personalized cover letters, and being faced with nothing but radio silence in return can be the most discouraging thing in a fresh graduate’s life. You start wondering: where did I go wrong! Am I really that mediocre?

The answer is no, no and no! Often the problem can be summed up in one word: timing. The complete silence from employers can simply mean a down time in employee productivity. For instance, keep your expectations at an all-time-low during the month of Ramadan and the following week of eid, as the short workdays and the lack of food and drink generally means very little time and energy to interact with prospective hires!
My slump lasted for two whole months, where all I did was send resumes and feel bad for myself when I got no reply. That was until one fine morning, I woke up to not one, not two, but three different interview request! I’d never really been a believer of slumps, but that day, I knew my slump was over. The discouragement turned into indecisiveness, as I was faced with more options than I could handle. Go figure!

You no longer have the excuse of being a student for being broke.

Fresh-grads, meet your new best friend: budgeting. Once you’ve landed your first job, you start to realize that “student living” is no longer a valid excuse for treating yourself to those expensive cocktails then starving yourself for a week afterwards.  That’s not to say being a graduate means being a homebound anti-social person, but it does mean being a little more responsible. After all, no one wants to live on pasta and tuna cans for the rest of their lives.

Give yourself plenty of leeway for trial and error.

Throwing that graduation cap into the air does not automatically turn us into fully functioning adults. In fact, it’s a little bit like learning to drive. It takes time, concentration, and a whole lot of practice to finally be able to confidently take control in that front seat. Once you understand that, you’ll start to be a little more forgiving towards yourself! Beating yourself up over not getting a job within the first week, or burning through your money quicker than you should have is not going to do you any good. Trust me. Instead, take every step of the way as a small part in the big learning process that you’re experiencing now.

By Lara El Sergany Published: December 02, 2016


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