20 Tips to Help You Survive Life after University

university graduate mortar board hat

Stepping out of the university bubble can be daunting for any young professional; for the past three or four years you’ve known what to expect every step of the way and have had guidance and support throughout. But, now what? You’re probably wondering where to begin and how to tackle the world and use all the knowledge you’ve acquired.

If you’re feeling a bit lost, here are 20 tips to follow to get your life on track after university:

1. Get a Graduate Job

If you’re eager to face the working world head on you should start by applying for a graduate job; although the competition is high; these roles are designed for people like you, fresh out of studies. Philippa Hardie, a careers consultant at the University of Chester, suggests looking for graduate roles with small and medium-sized enterprises too. “Being a small fish in a big pond isn't right for everyone and you can still get good training and future prospects in smaller companies.”

2. Become Self-Employed

This is a risk to take, but after graduation is probably the best time to take it as you have nothing to lose. You’re at your prime with fresh ideas and heaps of confidence; you might have also been smart and saved part of your student loan to fund your brilliant idea. On the other hand, if it fails, you’ll have learnt great transferable skills that will help you secure a decent job, and you can literally only move up from being at the bottom.

3. Find an Internship

Internships are a great way to break into the working world. They can help you get a foot in the door at your favourite organisation and will teach you heaps about the industry and skills that are needed. The only set-back is that most placements are unpaid, so if you can’t afford to not work, this option might not be suitable for you.

4. Pursue a Post-Graduate Degree

If you’re not ready to leave the comfort of university life and want to continue studying, why not look into a post-graduate degree? Make sure that you choose a subject that will enhance your employability and will teach you skills that you haven’t already learnt in your degree.

5. Avoid Graduation Blues

Post-uni depression is on the rise, yet, many graduates find it hard to talk about it. A spokesperson for BACP “stressed that these feelings are extremely common and nothing to be scared or ashamed of; but that it ‘doesn’t mean you have to put up with them’.” The truth is that the fun doesn’t have to stop at university if anything it will only get better as you’ll have the opportunity to make new acquaintances and experience different things in life. To avoid feeling down in the dumps, arrange something exciting that you can look forward to once a week.

6. Find Your Passion

You’ve just graduated with a psychology degree and realised that you actually don’t want to go down that career path. Don’t feel guilty – many graduates never end up working in their chosen field. The important thing is to find where your passion lies and choose a job that gives you meaning. Many young students chase a paycheck, but you’ll always end up wanting more, and will wind up miserable in the process.

7. Clear Your Debt

I’m not talking about your student loan (that’ll be taken directly out of your wage once you earn the correct amount). What I do mean are any IOU’s or housing bills that are still in your name. The last thing you’d want are debt-collectors knocking at your mum and dads for an electricity bill you forgot to pay.

8. Take a Gap Year and Travel

If your life-long dream has been to backpack around South America or travel to Australia, now is the time to do it. Once you sign your life away to a working contract you’ll have 25 days (at most) to travel; not really enough time to cross borders. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience so don’t put it off if you do have the time and resources.  

9. Move Back Home

After spending three or more years living on your own, the idea of moving back home can be quite tough. There are many upsides too; home-cooked food, constant company and you’ll also be able to save for your own place. If this is an option that you really can’t deal with; plan an exit strategy and give yourself a deadline of how long you want to stay there.

10. Get a Part-Time Job

Some say “it’s easier to get another job once you are in one you are already employed”. This may be because you are already in the working world and have the confidence to talk about the soft skills that you have learnt that can be transferred to the new position. A good idea is to get any part time job straight out of university; even it is bar work to get you into the working world and to put a bit of extra cash in your back pocket.

11. Don't Compare Yourself  To Others

You worked you’re a**se off at uni, but Becky, who came in late and scrolled through her Instagram feed during lectures managed to bag herself a job at one of the top company’s. You’re left feeling demotivated and angry towards Becky. Stop comparing yourself to others; it’s a complete waste of time and will only cause you problems. Instead, focus on your job search and how you can get your dream job.

12. Don't Lose Your Student Benefits

One great thing about being a student are the discounts, right? Most clothes stores, restaurants and even cinemas honour student benefits. The good news is that you don’t have to say bye to your student discount anymore, as there are many schemes out there that will help you shop for less.

13. Open a Graduate Account

While some student bank accounts automatically transfer to a graduate account and honour the 0% interest for some time, others don’t. You need to be prepared and read your documents; there are many graduate bank accounts that can give you a good deal until you get yourself on your feet.

14. Save Some Cash

I know you’re thinking “how can I save when I have so much debt?!” the truth is that you probably spend at least £5 or $5 on irrelevant things each month. Instead of throwing that money down the drain, put it into an ISA and increase the amount when you can. You’ll be surprised at how much spare change you’ll have in a few years.

15. Start From the Bottom

I’m sorry to break it to you, but you won’t have everything handed to you on a silver platter because you did the bare minimum and bagged yourself a 2.2. The job market has got even more competitive and you’re going to have to work really hard to secure yourself a job. In most cases, you’ll start at an entry-level job and work your way up the career ladder with years of experience under your belt.

16. Make Some Cut-Backs

Do you pass by Starbucks on your morning run and grab yourself an extra hot latte? If so, invest in a coffee machine and make your coffee at home. Do you have lots of clothes from uni that you won’t be seen dead in? Throw a car boot sale or auction them off on eBay. With a few small changes, you’ll be surprised at how much you can economize.

17. Know Your Worth

Although you're desperate to get a job, especially in your chosen field, you need to know your worth. Don’t sell yourself short because you really want that job. Do your research and know what the average wage is, you can then base this on your experience too. If you have internships under your belt that will set you apart from the rest, don’t be afraid to bring it to light.

18. Exercise

This won’t directly help you in your job search, but will definitely help your mindset. Exercise helps boost your energy and relaxes your mind and body. It will assist with weight loss or toning which in turn will make you feel good about yourself. To keep the stress at bay, get on a bike or simply go on daily walks to get your heart-rate going and endorphins pumping.  

19. Regularise Your Sleeping Pattern

Three am is no longer an appropriate bedtime, ditch binge-watching Netflix series and get into a routine of going to bed before midnight. When you do land a job those six am starts won’t be too horrific.

20. Work Abroad

If you love to travel and get excited about new adventures – why not work abroad? There are firms that offer work-abroad schemes; companies like Apple are known to sponsor international students, so you could look into applying for an internship there.  

The transition from university life to the working world can be challenging, but these tips should help soften the blow and get you ready for a successful career.

Have you recently graduated from university or college and found yourself wondering what to do? If so, how did you overcome this feeling? Let us know your comments in the section below…