How to Feel Better Prepared for the Real World After Uni
By Annie Walton Doyle
Finishing university can feel like a really scary time. After years spent in a world of structured education, set deadlines and clear, visible goals, you’re let out freely into the world with seemingly unlimited options. It’s exciting, sure, but terrifying too.
Luckily, there are things that can be done to make the transition easier – both while you’re still at university and in the months afterwards. Here are eight ways to be better prepared for post-uni life.
Things to do now
Take some time to carefully consider your options
Many people think that after graduating, the only real path is to get a graduate job, but this isn’t necessarily the case. There are tons of different career paths available to you, and not all of them may be immediately obvious. You could start a business, become freelance or even go back to university and delve further into the world of academia.
Weighing up these options can take some of the pressure off, and make sure you’re making the right choice in these crucial first post-uni steps.
Find graduate schemes to apply to
Once you’ve got a better idea about what industry or career path you’re interested in, it’s time to find a graduate scheme. Available in many different sectors, grad schemes allow employers to recruit top talent every year and there’ll be a set applications system in place with each employer.
To get more information, speak to the dedicated careers team at your university, or do your own research about the best ways into a graduate scheme in your career of choice.
Not got a firm idea of the job you want? Don’t worry! This step is really only for people who have a clear career in mind.
Start demonstrating a professional work ethic
For those who work well and consistently put in maximum effort at uni, the rewards are two-fold. Firstly, it will be reflected in your grades, but secondly, it’ll also set you up better for the world of work.
Strong work ethic is an extremely employable quality, and seeing it reflected with proof on a CV will give employers a great impression of you. This discipline will also come in handy when job hunting, starting your own business, freelancing or even applying for postgraduate degrees.
Gain some useful work experience
University (and particularly the holidays in between semesters) is a perfect time to gain some work experience in your chosen field. Whether it be assisting in an office or a short internship, it will always make your CV stand out among other, experience-less graduates.
If you haven’t had a chance to gain relevant work experience to the field you want to work in, there are still ways to bulk out that CV section. If you’ve had a service job to pay your way at uni, that shows valuable employable skills, even if they aren’t in your ideal career sector.
Also, if you’ve been involved in extra-curricular activities at university, these will provide you with attributes and experiences which you can use to boost your chances as a job candidate.
Things to do after graduation
Keep in contact with your tutors
You’ll likely have a couple of tutors or seminar leaders who you really connected with. Before you leave, ask for their non-university email address so you can contact them in the future.
They’ll likely be more than happy to give you a leg up on the career ladder, or at least be a useful person to chat to about any post-uni problems you encounter.
Take advantage of student discounts for as long as possible
This may sound silly in an article about preparing for the real world, but trying to keep your post-grad life as cheap as possible is a really smart thing to do.
There’s a chance you’ll start work at a low salary, or even find yourself working for free in an unpaid internship. So, getting discounts on travel, food, drink and shopping will help you make ends meet in those tough first few months.
Remember: this is just the first step on a much longer journey
Finishing university can be really daunting. You may feel you have no idea what you want to do, or that your chances of making it to where you want to be are nigh-on impossible. Try to stay calm and keep perspective. Your career path is going to be long and multifaceted. Not knowing exactly the first step to take is not only non-disastrous – it’s extremely common.
Remaining positive and trying out a few different things is the best way to get a grip on what exactly it is you want to do. And remember: you have tons of time to do it.
Annie Walton Doyle writes for Inspiring Interns, which helps career starters find the perfect job, in everything from sales jobs to marketing internships. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.
Lead image: Chandler Abraham (Flickr)
This article was originally published in January 2018 . It was last updated in January 2020