Graduation Special


The party’s over – time to get real!

You’re graduating! Congratulations! Hopefully, the four years you’ve spent slogging away in the library, sweating over assignments and pickling your liver with cheap alcohol will have prepared you for the disappointment of adulthood.

Did you really think you’d walk out of university and straight into your dream job?

Did you believe you’d be paid buckets of money to do what you love and be able to return home every night to your beautiful studio apartment?

And did you honestly think you’d get to hang out with all of your uni friends, who will remain in the same area with you and live quiet and contented?

You did? Then KATIE CAMPBELL has some bad news…

It Ain’t All That

The reality of your situation, graduate, is not so fun and exciting. Surely you’ve heard the word “recession” being bandied around like it was going out of fashion while you were at university?

Maybe it was while you were searching for a part-time job to sustain all the partying you were doing – maybe you heard people talk about how difficult it was to get a job in the recession?

The same applies to the full-time job you’re about to throw yourself into getting.

You’re not going to hear any fewer cries of “you’re just not looking properly” or “there are loads of jobs, you’re just not trying.” If anything, it’ll only get worse.

That degree in journalism you just got that you assumed would allow you to walk into a great position at The Sun with awesome pay and masses of fringe benefits? Nope. That’s not happening, I’m afraid.

Maybe after a few years of temping, working in bars and begging you’ll get that dream job, but the assumption of immediate success has set you up for a fall. The whole thing won’t be helped by your parents, either.

It wasn’t like this when they were 21, they say over and over again. At least you can blame them for the situation you’re in, because it was their generation’s fault that we ended up in this mess.

Thanks, Mum and Dad.


The Parent Trap

Speaking of Mum and Dad, I hope you’ve missed them, because the likelihood is that you’re going to find yourself back in their home, in the cramped den of nostalgia that is your childhood bedroom.

Because it’s only total losers who live with their Mum and Dad in their mid-twenties, right? Nope, it’s losers and broke graduates! You can’t stay in halls anymore; you’re no longer a student. Living with your parents is going to be a blast, though, because nothing beats moping around in your pyjamas all day, watching Jeremy Kyle re-runs and scouring Gumtree for jobs until you can’t bear to look at another ad looking for someone to distribute catalogues for next-to-no money because it’s starting to look like a really lucrative job offer.

All the while, your Dad is gently trying to convince you to sign on for Jobseeker’s Allowance because the job market is terrible (your fault, Dad) and you need money because you can’t keep living in his house rent free (thanks Dad).


Accommodation Frustration

Maybe, just maybe, you’re one of the lucky ones who have managed to find a part-time job over the course of your university career, and just maybe you’re one of the even luckier ones who have squirrelled away some money.

Time to put a deposit down on that beautiful bohemian apartment you’ve been dreaming about getting, right?

Wrong! Hope you like your living environment damp, and with the lingering aroma of weed, because that’s the sad reality.

Even then, you may still find yourself back in with Mum and Dad. That’s the thing about money – it’s a pain to get and even more of a pain to save.

You might find you just didn’t save enough because, would you believe it, the housing market is just as bad as the job market. Better call the parents and get them to clear you out some wardrobe space. You might be home for the long haul.


How Did I Get Here?

Let’s say, hypothetically, you are one of the lucky ones. The very, very lucky ones.

Let’s say you manage to get yourself a job, part-time or full-time – well done if you do, truly, well done – how are you going to get there?

Remember all the commuting you did in university? Remember all the rush hour trains packed with commuters and buses so full they just drive straight past your stop, ignoring you?

Did you think you could escape that? Did you dream of having your own car now that you’re a “proper adult”?

Sorry, but you’re still going to find yourself pressed up against a train window on the way to work with someone’s briefcase trying to break through your ribcage.

Better yet, you’ll still be able to enjoy the overpriced and cramped adventure that is taking the bus at rush hour.

You may want to sign up for a (free) Tai Chi course in between all that job hunting to help you with your balance, because it is an inevitability that your bus will make an abrupt stop in traffic and you’ll find yourself being flung off balance and into commuters at the other end of the bus.

You could always turn the whole thing into a game. Commuter ten pin bowling.

Enjoy at your peril.

Job’s a Good ‘Un?

Jobs aren’t usually fun. Unless you’ve got something particularly cool, the likely reality is that you’ll be stuck in an office from 9 to 5, staring blankly at a computer screen and trying to work out just how you ended up where you did.

If you don’t start hating your job by the third week, then you’re one of the lucky ones.

What about all those friends you made at uni? They’re probably going to flake off, one by one, finding jobs, moving away, or moving home, just like you.

So don’t expect to have the social life you had while you were at university. Your friends will be trying to start their own careers and relationships.

Remember how you felt when you were in your first year, trying to make friends? Welcome that feeling in once again, because it’s coming back with a vengeance.

At least this time, the setting will be different, eh? After all that, the making new friends, finding somewhere to live, and trying to find a job, do you think you’ll even have enough time for a social life? Just pass on trying to make friends.

You’re going to be spending your weekends from now on with Netflix and Horlicks!


Your expectations were high, graduate. But you’ve grown up in a generation much different to the last – a generation to whom those high expectations were often a reality. It’ll take a bit of looking, calling in favours, volunteering and waiting, but it will be worth it. 

This is time you could take to explore the world, or go back into education and gain more skills that will make you twice as employable. 

It’s scary, graduate, but you can do it. Just remember that real life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Get a job! Dream on

AS a new graduate, you’ll probably be looking to start a career in the subject you studied so hard at university. 

The world of work is a huge, confusing place. 

Maybe you’re not so sure where to start looking to find a job. In light of this, KATIE CAMPBELL offers some options – some dream jobs and some more practical – to give you some help at the beginning of you quest to find the career that’s right for you.


Teaching abroad

IF you’re bored of your current surroundings and have an innate desire to see the world, why not use your degree to teach abroad?

Teaching is a rewarding job, teaching abroad even more so.

As an EU citizen, you could easily look into teaching in places like Spain, of if you’re looking for somewhere a little further afield, China and Vietnam are popular choices.

Just remember that these jobs are extremely sought after, meaning it may be difficult for you to find a place working abroad.

But just think about it – you get to live in a beautiful new country, make new friends, learn a new language and teach what you know to help improve the lives of others. How could that be anything but rewarding?

The position is not a permanent one, though, so you may find yourself looking after a year for another position teaching, or it may be time to return home from your dream job abroad.

As an experience, however, teaching abroad is an unbeatable one.


I Spy MI5

Did you grow up watching spy movies and thinking, that’s the life for me?

Luckily for you, MI5 offer graduate training schemes, which set you on a path to become an intelligence analyst, digital intelligence analyst, foreign language analyst or intelligence officer, amongst other things.

MI5 deals with national security, so in a job with them you’d be helping to keep the country safe from threats of terrorism, sabotage, espionage, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

It’s not quite the same as MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service where James Bond worked.

If you’ve got a talent for languages or problem solving, it could be a great place to start a career.

Just be warned, you might not get to travel quite as far or get as many cool gadgets as Bond had.



European Space Agency

If you’re just about to finish a Masters degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subject, you have one of the coolest job opportunities in the world available to you – a graduate position at the European Space Agency.

This is a graduate program that’s notoriously tricky to get into, but if you’re one of the lucky few who does manage to get a one-year placement with the European Space Agency, you’ll be working under one of their engineers in one of the fastest growing sectors of employment in Europe.

Over the course of the year, you’ll gain valuable knowledge in planning, developing, and undertaking missions in space, and take on a responsible support role in one of the ESA’s space missions.

This could involve making or launching satellites into space, or extrapolating data from satellites already in orbit.

The graduate scheme is open to students of physics, biology, engineering and medicine, but business and law graduates are also welcome to apply.


Get a job! Get real…

OF course, not everyone is going to sail straight into the sort of job they’ve been fantasising about since forever!

For the rest of us, a more practical outlook on our immediate prospects might well be what keeps us sane as we enter the job market.

Games Designer

Most people who love video games dream of making them.

Some get to as part of large companies like Rockstar or Ubisoft, but many decide to release games on their own, as indie developers.

It’s the dream of most computer science students who love video games to be a member of the team that made Grand Theft Auto, but game development is a difficult business to get into due to the high number of applicants to so few positions, hence the rise in the number of indie developers making their mark on the scene.

Game Design or Computer Science graduates who land their dream job as a programmer, editor or designer at a company like Rockstar can expect long, but rewarding hours working on triple-A titles.

If this is your calling, developing your own games is an option. With the rise in digital distribution platforms like Steam, it’s easier than ever to publish your own games.

With any luck, it could be you who publishes the next big thing in gaming.



IT Support

For Computer Science graduates, the likelihood is that you’ll find yourself coming out of university and into a job helping people with their PCs.

In your day-to-day life, you’ll be bombarded with requests every day from friends, family and strangers to help them fix their computer, so the step from manual labour to career might not be too large.

This will mean sitting at your computer all day, waiting to get called out to whoever needs your help in the office, or waiting on people coming to see you with their problems.

You may also find yourself working as an information systems manager, who is responsible for buying, maintaining and upgrading the programs and PCs in your place of work.

As someone who really understands the way a computer works – much better than most, anyway – you’ll have a huge responsibility, as you are essentially the person who keeps the place running.


Retail Manager

IF you’ve had a part-time job throughout your university career, many companies offer graduate training schemes that allow you to progress further in the company, often up to the level of manager or assistant manager.

These graduate schemes ordinarily don’t look for a specific degree, just that the candidate has one.

Other areas of study, such as business management, can lead you into the same area.

Retail is a fun, fast-paced work environment, where customer interaction and satisfaction is key to doing a great job.

People who are outgoing, polite, and adept at problem solving may find their calling as a manager in retail.

It can be an extremely satisfying job for those who enjoy helping people.


Adminstrative Role

DESPITE spending years getting yourself a degree, you may find yourself taking on a job that doesn’t actually require one!

This could be work in a call centre or, more than likely, an administrative role.

A job as an administrator involves answering phones, sorting post, filing and typing work.

While it doesn’t sound like the most interesting line of work, as an administrator you’ll learn how the company works from the inside out, making you a great candidate for promotions, meaning an administrative role could be the first step in your career.

To work as an administrator, you’ll have to be able to keep calm under pressure, be an excellent multi-
tasker, be organised, have excellent attention to detail, and be a great team player.

It’ll also be helpful to be social, as you’ll be interacting with everyone in the office from the big bosses to the office junior.


Keep calm and graduate.

THE Graduation Ceremony is one of the last big events in student life, and is a huge, traditional celebration of your achievements as an academic. 

Some people don’t care much for it, but others see it as the terrifying last hurdle before the inevitable transition into adulthood. 

Really, there’s no need to panic. 

Graduation is exciting, but you may not be so excited about the prospect of leaving university. 

It’s ok to be freaked out by the future; the future is scary.  Don’t let yourself get bogged down by thoughts of what you’re going to do when you leave university, or any uncertainty that lies in your future.

Your graduation is a celebration, and you should celebrate. You’ll have lots of time to worry later, but for now, take a day to enjoy yourself and revel in your achievements.

KATIE CAMPBELL presents a guide that will help you keep your cool at your graduation.



What to Wear

Your university or college will have a dress code for your graduation, which you’ll be able to find online.

This usually comprises of a dark suit or tux for men and a blouse and dark skirt for women.

If you are or were a member of the armed services, you also have the option to wear your military uniform under your gown.

It’s a good idea if you’re wearing a blouse to make sure it has buttons on it, as this will give you something to attach your graduation hood to.

It’s also wise to have some safety pins to hand, as you may need something to keep your hood or gown in place in case it slips off.

Light make-up is advised in case your ceremony gets a bit warm – there’s nothing worse than going on stage to receive your degree with your heavy eyeliner slowly making its way down your face towards your chin.

Sensible footwear is an absolute must. If you elect to wear heels, make sure they’re heels you can walk in.

You don’t want to trip in your heels going to accept your degree and end up taking a tumble in front of all your fellow students – very embarrassing!

You don’t need to dress up for your graduation ceremony. Remember you’ll have your gown on, so dress smart but comfortable.

Many universities will not allow you to go to your graduation ceremony wearing jeans or trainers, so avoid wearing those at all costs.


Friends and Family

Your graduation ceremony is likely to be the first time your parents will be with you at university for an extended period of time.

Remember that you’ve been there for a few years and are likely all-too familiar with the university’s layout, but your family are not.

Be prepared to answer a lot of questions and chaperone your parents around for the day. They’ll want to see the place you’ve been spending so much time over the past few years, so indulge them for at least a little while.

Be prepared also to pose for a lot of photos with your family and answer calls from far-flung relatives wanting to wish you well.

Your family will likely be very excited all day, and want to get involved in proceedings as much as possible by talking to the faculty and your university friends.

That’s the lovely thing about your graduation – it’s the day when these three aspects of your life will come together and merge.

On the other hand, this may well be the last time you are together at university with the friends you made there, so be sure to spend as much time as you can allow soaking in the last of your time there together.

After graduation, you’ll still see each other, but your lives may be moving in different directions away from university.

Remember, however, that like you they will also need time with their family, so plan accordingly.


The Ceremony

The ceremony is, of course, the most important part of your graduation. It’s where you receive a tangible copy of your degree in front of all your friends and family.

It’s best to know beforehand where you and your family are sitting, and the times for both the guests to be seated and the ceremony starting.

The ceremony takes quite a long time, so it’s a good idea to have a big lunch before you go in.

There’s also a pretty good chance that you’ll be having some alcohol at your graduation ceremony, and it’s not wise to drink on an empty stomach.

Above all else, remember that the ceremony is a celebration of your achievements at university.

Everyone there – your parents, the university’s faculty and your fellow students – are immensely proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself.

So enjoy yourself. Accept your degree with a smile, and think of all the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead of you, and of all the great times you’ve had at university.


When it’s Over

When the ceremony’s finished, you will likely want to celebrate in style.

You may not have eaten in a while, so a celebratory dinner with family or friends might seem like a great idea.

There’s a possibility that you might even be invited to eat with your old faculty, which would be a lovely last-hurrah to your university career.

Like the ceremony, this day is all about you. If you want to spend it eating in a fancy restaurant or in a bar with your friends, it’s completely up to you.

Just remember that it’s a celebration for you, so you should celebrate however you see fit.

Don’t worry about doing anything too fancy with your friends if you want – you have your graduate ball to look forward to, where you can dress up to the nines and have a great night with your uni pals.