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Five Things to Have Prepared for Life After University

In 2019, a study by City Mental Health Alliance found 49% of students felt low after graduating. The study showed a lack of support available to recent graduates, with many students finding it hard to move back home with parents after spending 3 years living with friends. Furthermore, students finding a job and seeing friends succeed causes extra anxiety, which surely doesn’t help. Moving on after graduating can be frightening, but there are several steps you can take to prepare for life after university.

The Grad Hub is joined today by Maddie Astle who recently graduated from the University of Leicester with a degree in Criminology. Maddie has taken the time to share with you her five things to help you prepare for life after university…

Five Things to Have Prepared for Life After University

Ever wondered how you can get yourself ready for the real world before you’ve left university? In your last few months, you want to be enjoying the remaining time you have as a student, and that’s fair enough. But there are a few really simple things you can do to get yourself prepared for your first months of graduate life.

Maddie AstleSpeaking personally, I did most of the things listed below. The one I didn’t do was prepare my mindset and that’s the thing that would’ve helped me the most. A few months after leaving university, I felt completely overwhelmed by how much had changed and didn’t feel that there was much support in the way of this. So I set up my own graduate blog to help myself and others get through the highs and lows of graduate life.

After university, I moved straight to London and quickly found a job. It wasn’t long before I realised the job wasn’t for me so I took up a job at my dad’s PR agency. I then spent six months commuting from London to Peterborough, which didn’t make me feel too great about how things were after university. I hadn’t planned for that at all and my bank account wasn’t looking too nice. The ongoing pandemic has now meant that I’m working from home and have moved back in with my family but I’m taking the time to reassess my priorities as a graduate and hope to get on with these plans soon.

So, here are a few things that I think everyone should have prepared before they finish university.

Standardise your CV and cover letter

At some point during or after university, you’ll want to start applying for jobs. The key things you’ll need when applying, apart from sheer determination and unlimited motivation, are a CV and a cover letter.

It’s best practice to get yourself a standard template for both, so that it’s ready to go when you see a role you like. Having the basics of a cover letter written as a template can really save you some time too, rather than writing a new one for each role.

Even if you’re applying to a few different roles or industries, it’s good to have a template for each to avoid starting from scratch every time. Similarly, while you should always tailor your CV and cover letter to every role you apply for, it’s always handy to just have the basics there when you start.

Work out your finances

Unfortunately with the end of university comes the end of receiving a student loan. This means holding back on splurges, not buying mindlessly and creating an actual plan for your money.

Have a look at the average salary for a graduate within your chosen industry and start from there. Think about your expenses – depending on whether you’ll be living at home or are planning to move out – and work out how much you’ll have monthly to live off and if you can save anything from that.

It’ll be a huge shock to the system when you’re paying out a lot of your own hard-earned money but you can get used to it pretty quickly with a budget.

finance apps
Some great day to day budgeting apps to use

Get some experience or further accreditation

Once you’ve handed your last deadline in or finished your exams, you may find yourself with some spare time on your hands before you graduate. It could be a good idea to find some work experience to do in that time, such as volunteering, tutoring, starting your own blog or doing lots of online courses.

You could also use this time to see if there are any online networking opportunities at the university where you can meet with professionals in your desired industry. Even if you’re not fully set on what you want to do, speaking to people within that field could help you to either pursue it or decide it’s not for you, which is really valuable either way. Try using LinkedIn too for this!

Build your ’embrace it all’ mindset

The things that graduate life can throw at you will be a test of your resilience and determination. Maybe you’ll be lucky and walk straight into your dream job, it can happen. However, there might be countless applications, feelings of ‘was my degree even worth it’, and a lot of times where you might feel like giving up, but you’ve just got to embrace everything that happens.

It is tough when you get rejected from a job that you were really excited about, but you’ve just got to think about it as a ‘one door closes and another one opens’ situation. You might find it really difficult to be staying in your family home after experiencing independence at university, but the time will come where you can move out. It can be a long process for a lot of things in graduate life, but tell yourself that you’re okay and you’ve got this – because you most definitely have.

A very, very loose plan

I stress the loose because no one has ever followed a plan to a T and not found impossibilities or diversions along the way. Work out what your plan is for the next month or two. That could be applying for jobs, it could be travelling, or it could just be chilling in your trackies and thinking I did it as you wait to get your degree certificate.

Don’t worry about having a five year plan, or even a one year plan. Just try to enjoy life as an ‘adult’ and see where it takes you.

So, there you have it, five things that I’d recommend doing before leaving university to prepare you for graduate life. There are a lot of things you can do to prepare yourself, and it is completely okay if you just want to enjoy the last few months of being a student and not care about what’s next.

Just focus on you and don’t worry about who’s got what planned, your time will come.

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