A Guide to the Next Step – the GOOD, the BAD & the REALITY

Got your grades? The freedom which comes with graduation is slightly tainted by the fencing you’ll notice running the parameter in the distance. You go from a smaller cage to a bigger one. You’re the free-range variation of free and the cage feels more like a battle ring. There’s a degree for everything and everyone has a degree, so let the Games begin! Hannah McLaren talks you through it…



Or, at least, it has nightmarish qualities. You’ve spent years working towards this goal with a perfect image in mind, only now to realise that there is a list of negatives to the job that you could never have imagined in the classroom. It’s not uncommon for graduates to realise they’ve picked the wrong degree … and that’s after graduation for some.

Many return to further study, or never use their degrees at all. However, it’s not all bad. If you’ve landed your dream job, you should be a little bit more relieved than the hundreds of graduates each year who don’t. Many find themselves in managerial positions or training in grad jobs that don’t match the visions they had for their life.
You might be one of the lucky few who made the right choice at 17-years-old, and are enjoying your chosen career path. However, to those who don’t feel part of that celebratory party on Graduation Day, don’t worry, you are not alone.



You might think no more exams means no more anxiety. Not entirely true. Whilst no one would ever argue that exams are better than full-time employment, no one would say that full-time employment doesn’t come with its own set of stressors.If you’re doing any task for a prolonged period of time, it gets inside your head and consumes you.
At work, you get tangled up in a kind of deadline and a new kind of assessment. The obligatory kind that pays the bills.

And, that’s just the stress that comes with being in a job, being between jobs is far more distressing. Nonetheless, normally job stress isn’t the kind you take home with you, not to the extent of being up till 3am cramming for an exam the next day. But there are jobs out there that do require you to work from home sometimes, so for some the stress of homework never dissipates. The hours you’re required to put in are more than you’ve ever devoted to anything in your life … even studying.
And, a 9 to 5 every work day of the week is exhausting, it just is. You’ll miss the free hours between lectures and the late-starts and early finishes of some uni days.
To be fair, you won’t miss all the studying that usually filled those hours though.


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You learn a lot more and much faster as soon as you walk out of those library doors. Something that you’ll quickly realise is that real life requires a lot of patience and that most things take time.After hitting deadline after deadline, year after year, going through the motions since you were a little kid of first primary school, then secondary school, uni and a job, you’re stunned by the limbo you suddenly fall into the months following graduation. It’s immediately clear that you can’t plan everything and little goes to plan.

There’s no shame in not hearing back from that application and no failure in not finding graduate employment within six months. It’s a tough world. Many graduates learn that hard work doesn’t always pay off, not right away anyway. And, sometimes success takes a different shape than the one you envisioned all these years. Very few think they’ll be married with a house and kids at the age of 25 anymore, and that’s because the reality is the majority won’t.

And, that’s okay. Security doesn’t always look like a sandstone, red-bricked detached house, in a nice area, lined by a nice white picket fence. The wonder of the 21st century and the open access we have to so many tools and so much information is that you can now create your own solid ground to build on.



Although you were all once struggling students, scraping change for one last £1 vodka and eating the cheapest thing on the menu, you’ll start to see a shift in your friendship circle. There will be those who want to go on all the holidays and buy all the things and then there will be those who are still unemployed and can’t even make that one night out.Being a skint student is the norm and a funny meme when you’re still finding your feet at college or uni.

But when you’re in your twenties and you suddenly have a list of bills to pay and all your cash flow goes towards life’s necessities, it becomes a huge inconvenient demotivator.



We already know the phrase, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Well, unfortunately this becomes very real when you exit through the front door as a big person for the first time. At some point, you may be snubbed for that perfect job in favour of someone the boss already had lined up.

More than once, you won’t hear back from those places you wrote to or applied to. Often, people you never imagined could succeed will overtake you on the way out of those ceremony doors. What a lot of university students forget to acquire is experience alongside those As and Bs.

Those who did the placements, shadowed the professionals and made the contacts are far more likely to get the job than you are.
Those with lower grades often compensate by having a far more efficient set of networking skills, which can sometimes be enough depending on the minimum requirements. Practical skills are invaluable and that’s something you can only pick up far beyond a lecture hall. Exams are a measure of book smarts, but the ability to adapt, innovate and compromise are what employers are really looking for.