3 things I wish I knew before graduating
It’s been nearly three years since I finished my last university exam and said goodbye to the student life forever. Meeting a variety of new people in my new life as a full-time working professional, I’m continually surprised just how different this transition can be for everyone.
As I hear these stories and reflect back on my own journey, I wanted to share the top three things I wish someone had told me before graduating.
1. Your degree alone won’t guarantee you a job
When I finished university, I was excited — and maybe a tad naïve. I had just spent the last three and a half years working towards my degree, which was a requirement of many of the roles I was interested in applying for. What I didn’t realise at the time was that my degree alone wasn’t going to get me a job — everyone else applying also had a similar degree to me! Employers were more interested in my skills and experiences than what I studied in class. All of those internships, casual jobs and extracurricular activities I got involved in in during university actually became more important than my degree itself.
My key takeaway: Get involved in as many different activities and experiences as you can during your time at university, and ensure you are highlighting these in your applications and during your interviews.
2. It will take you a while to adjust to life after university
I started university straight after high school without taking a gap year, so by the time I finished my degree I had been a student continuously since kindergarten. I didn’t know what it was like to not have something to work towards, or how to allocate my time. This lack of structure and purpose was quite scary — this new-found freedom I was promised after university wasn’t initially as great as it was sold to be.
Once I adjusted, it was better than I could have imagined.
My key takeaway: Be patient with yourself, use your time to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Set yourself small goals to work towards, especially when job hunting.
3. It’s okay to quit your first full-time job
Landing my first full time job after university was a long process. I put so much time and effort into securing it that the thought of leaving, even if it wasn’t what I had envisioned, wasn’t an option. Although I was one of the lucky ones that enjoyed their first full-time role, this is not the case for everyone. I have seen friends stay in roles that made them unhappy because they felt like they had worked so hard to get there that they had to stay, or were so worried if they were to leave that they may not find another. Only after leaving years later did they realise the mental and physical impact of staying in a role that made them unhappy.
My key takeaway: Don’t ever feel obliged to continue working in a role or organisation that makes you unhappy. Closing one door allows room for another one to open.
For me graduating university was a completely different experience to what I expected, and there were many things I would have benefited from knowing beforehand. Although I wish I was gifted with this knowledge, the lessons I learnt while figuring it out for myself are priceless. Therefore my last takeaway for today: take everything as a lesson. All the set-backs and failed plans you may experience are actually the greatest opportunities to learn.
Erin currently works as a Recruitment Advisor for UTS Careers. She is passionate and empathetic and enjoys working with students to support them through their career journey and assist them in achieving their career related goals. Erin has previously worked in customer service, promotional and human resources roles.