Now you have left university, you have the whole world ahead of you. Being a graduate can be quite terrifying, since you were little all you have known is education, a routine of getting out of bed and heading to your educational institute for the day. Now is the time to look for a job, an internship, or a Master’s degree. Or, you could already have a job and you are just waiting to start. That being said, you may face some bumps in the road to your future but they are nothing to be embarrassed about. You may not have a clear path ahead of you and that is completely normal to face challenges. Let’s talk about some of those challenges.
The first thing to remember is that you are not the only candidate that got rejected from that job, from any job. It can be incredibly humiliating when you get turned down, even worse when you do not hear back from them. However, there are ways that you can deal with this rejection.
The first thing you need to do, as embarrassing as it may be, is to analyse the interview. In your mind, or on a piece of paper, write down everything that you think went well and what went wrong. Ask yourself, were you dressed appropriately? Did you answer all of the questions to the best of your ability? How was your body language? If you do find that you have done something wrong, think or write ways that you can remedy that. There is no point mulling over something you did wrong or blaming the interviewer as that will not make you feel any better. The best thing to do is improve upon yourself and your employability. For example, say you have reflected and thought that the way you dressed was not professional, think about (and even buy) a suitable outfit that you can wear to your next interview.
Also, if they do not give you any feedback when they email or call you to break the news that you did not get the job, ask them for it. Although it may feel like it at first, a rejection is not a permanent ban from any other career and the employer will be more than happy to give you feedback.
As mentioned earlier, do not just focus on the bad things, but the good things too. For everything that you were proud of and felt happy about, praise yourself. You are only going to shatter your self-worth and confidence by beating yourself up. Why not turn your job rejection into a way to treat yourself? The run-up to the interview and the interview itself was probably extremely stressful, so reward yourself for pushing through the stress and going ahead with the interview with a couple of drinks with your friends.
This is very common among a lot of students and is nothing to be afraid about. There are many students who feel confused about whether they would like to go into their chosen profession or not. If you are not happy with your chosen career path then do not go through with it, it would be incredibly unhealthy to stick to it just because you have done a degree in it. Yes, some may argue that it would be a waste of all those loans, however, they are plenty of options you can choose after your degree to change path.
The first option is to do a Master’s degree. A lot of universities expect students to have a Bachelor’s degree that relates to their chosen Master’s degree. However, the keyword in that sentence is ‘relates’, this does not mean that the Master’s has to be exactly the same as your previous degree. So, have a look at Master’s degrees that different universities offer that are within your field, take a look at some others that may be different but require some aspects that you gained and became confident in during your Bachelor’s.
Next, you can opt for doing an internship or apprenticeship. An internship can last a couple of months to a few years and they are an excellent way to gain experience. Many jobs that are open to graduates have ridiculous employment requirements, such as having two years of experience with a certain aspect. How are students meant to gain that type of experience when they are fresh out of university? So, to overcome this, an internship is definitely a good idea and it lets you explore the field you want a career in without devoting yourself to a full-time job. Then there is an apprenticeship that will help you gain the experience an internship would. Many view apprenticeships as an alternative to university, making themselves think that once they have done a degree they have to go straight into a job, but you can do an apprenticeship. They help people gain the career skills they need to confidently go into a job.
If you are struggling with what to do, look on the internet at people’s experiences with both of these options and then decide which one is best for you. You could even organise a meeting, or send an email, with the person who is running it and ask them a few questions.
Living at home
Just because you have finished university, out of education, and class yourself as a ‘proper’ adult now does not mean that you have to move out of your parent’s house. Over the years, there has been a derogatory attitude towards those that choose to stay at home well into their twenties. However, when you stop and think about it there are many advantages to staying at home.
Firstly, you are saving yourself a lot of money compared to renting your own place. Your parents may have asked you to pay board and maybe they haven’t and you just pay for your own food and necessities, but this is a lot cheaper than paying around £400 a month just for rent. Think about how much money you have been able to save up over the course of your university years not having to pay for student accommodation and having a part-time job, as well as moving on to a job, internship, or another degree. When you are ready to move out, you’ll have enough money to put a deposit down on a house or flat, enough to pay a few months’ rent without the pressure of getting a job.
Secondly, you are not missing out on any quality family time. Families are precious and any time spent with them should be treasured. Take a second to remember all those times your family has had playful banter over dinner, those weekend trips away to the seaside, all those birthdays you have been able to spend at home. Fortunately, you have had the chance to create special lifelong memories that others have not and you have many more to go. Don’t forget all that quality time you’ve been able to spend with the family pet!
Thirdly, you are always going to have someone reliable, trustworthy and loving in your home. Having a job may mean that you have to move further away from your home, which also means that you may have to live on your own if all your friends are settled in jobs or no one wants to move with you. Or, you may find people online who need a rent partner and you move in with them. However, there is nothing like coming home from a difficult day at work, walking through the door, and being comforted by the love of your family. Living at home means you will always have a trusted family member to complain to when something at work has stressed you out; when you need a favour done, there is always going to be someone reliable to do it.
Finishing with a 2:1 or lower
While getting a first in a degree is every university student’s dream, getting another grade should not be frowned upon. Repeat after me: “My grade does not define my self-worth, my achievements, or my future!” Yes, everyone should strive to do the most they can to the best of their ability, but everyone works differently. Just because you did not get a first does not mean that you are not going to land your dream job, it does not mean you won’t be able to support yourself financially.
If you feel immensely insecure about your grade, try and get some experience elsewhere to add to your CV. For example, if you were a journalism student, take a few months out of job searching to try and find a short internship or freelance for a while. The more you have on your CV, the more hardworking and employable you are going to seem to employers. It shows that even with a 2:1 or lower, you still want to push yourself and achieve more than just your degree. This will be tremendously appreciated and admired by employers.
That your degree was a waste
This is very similar to those who feel confused about their future career, having doubts about whether you have just wasted four years of your life is normal. Your degree very much prepares you for the kind of work you will be doing within your field and if you do not like that then you do not have to go into it. If anything, you should be applauding yourself for sticking it out all those years and not dropping out. Doing something that you may not have been particularly fond of at the time, but wanted to do your best, shows how resilient you are.
So, there are numerous things that you can do to remedy this feeling. One option, and probably the most gruelling option, would be to do another degree. Understandably, you have just taken out a £30,000+ loan for your previous degree and may not want to add to that debt, however, is sticking with a subject that you do not enjoy anymore going to make you happy? Putting debt aside, another degree could land you your dream job. What you want to do first is identify what you would like to go into, then have a look at what your university has to offer. It does not have to be a long degree (unless you would like it to be), you could simply do an extra three years. Do not limit yourself to your university either, take a look at what other universities have to offer; a new place to move to may bring a new and fresh mindset.
Next, which is the complete opposite and will play devil’s advocate, you could try and get a job that is within your field and see whether you like it. While the university does its best to try and prepare you for the real world, there are some aspects that are different that may be influencing your thoughts. One of the main differences is that your work is not going to be graded at all, so while you still need to make your work brilliant you do not need to feel this immense pressure that it is going to affect your future or pull any ridiculous all-nighters. Another thing that may be influencing your thoughts is the anxiety of the real world. All you have known for the majority of your life is routine and education, once you finish university it can feel like you are being chucked into the deep end of adult life. As uncomfortable as this may seem, pulling yourself out of your comfort zone and delving straight into a job may help you overcome this anxiety and you may actually enjoy it.