Graduating into a world of uncertainty

by Mar 30, 2020

Years of late-night assignments and group presentations have all lead up to this moment.

You feel the piece of paper in your hands and see your name embellished on the certificate. Congratulations! You are now officially a UTS graduate.  Some of your peers would have already started their new graduate positions or landed that job interview for the role that you applied for but were unsuccessful. But for those of us who don’t have any plans, now what?

Having just finished university myself last year, I have been in your shoes and understand how daunting the process of finding your first job can be.  Here are some tips I learnt over the last year.

Focus on Now

Given the situation of where the world is heading at the moment, it may be tempting to go climb into bed and wait until everything blows over. You sure can but that may not help in the long run.

Instead focus on the little things you can do now that will benefit you later down the track. Unfortunately, sometimes it will take a while to land your dream job so compile a budget that includes your income and expenses to see how you can sustain yourself for the immediate future. If your income was affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns be sure to apply for the Federal Government’s Jobseeker Scheme.

Make a game plan

An integral part of landing the job is the preparation taken before applying for it.

Take the time to reflect on the type of work you may want to pursue and map out how you would approach your application. Research requirements in the job descriptions of positions you would like to work in and methods on you can develop the skills to meet that requirement.  For example starting a blog to practice your written communication skills or creating a website from scratch.

As a UTS Alumni, you can still access all of UTS Careers’ services for up to 2 years after graduation. This includes access to CareerHub and countless of online resources to improve your LinkedIn Portfolio and improve your elevator pitch. If you ever feel like you need a hand in formulating your game plan or even career advice you can always book in a virtual drop-in session with a UTS Careers Recruitment Advisor.

Stay in touch  

Keep in touch with your networks, they will be your biggest supports in your job search. We humans are born to be social creatures and no person is an island. Make sure you schedule activities together during the isolation, whether that will be a quick phone call to your family or watch parties, digital catch-ups or online gaming with your friends.

On a more professional note, feel free to get in touch with old employers and colleagues to get their insights into the industry, tips to enhance your portfolio or even just some feedback on what you can improve on for future roles. Just remember that they may also be going through a difficult time, so be patient and accept if they may not be able to help you immediately. 

From my past experiences of staying in touch with my fellow peers and colleagues, I have gotten leads, insights into the day-to-day of certain roles and even the opportunity to hear about jobs that are not advertised on job boards. If you are struggling to find a place to get some answers you can sign up to the Professional Mentoring Platform.

Build good foundations

In 2017, research by McCrindle revealed that we will be employed by an average of 17 employers throughout our career, and will stay in a job on an average of 1 year and 8 months. Our careers have now not just become a marathon, but one with intermittent sprints, so you’ll need to ensure you are setting yourself on good foundations.

Take the initiative to learn new software through online learning portals like LinkedIn Learning to get a competitive edge. Alternatively, find communities that match your interests to see if you could do any pro-bono work that you can add to your resume or portfolio. Meanwhile, take time to practice managing stress and anxiety with some at home yoga or quick workout sessions, if possible.

Endurance and self-compassion is key to resilience

Success does not happen overnight. We are entering a more competitive and uncertain job market than ever before, where rejection may be common. A friend of mine wrote over 162 application and attended 10 interviews to land ‘the one’. According to the AAGE Employer Survey, there could be anywhere from 5 to 26 applications per graduate job available.

So if you were successful, congratulations. If not, that’s okay – you did your best and continue trying.

One of the best pieces of advice I have received so far was during my time as a charity fundraiser: ‘We cannot control everything that happens to us, but at least we can control what we do’. At times it hurts to get rejected, however the more I did it the more I got used to it and continued building resilience.


If there is one thing I want you take away from this piece is that work is just one facet of our lives and does not encapsulate us in our entirety.

Dear graduating class of 2020, you have already gone through a cycle similar to this before. From the fishbowl of high school to the river of university, you have come a long way to reach the ocean. Sure, you will get lost or at times find yourself falling behind your peers, but it is not a race. Eventually you’ll find the currents and learn the ocean like the back of your hand. So until then, head up and keep on swimming.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Angela Zhao

Angela Zhao

Communications & Events Assistant

Angela has spent the 5 months working with UTS Careers as a Communications and Events Assistant on UTS Autumn Orientation 2020 and Careers Fair 2020.

As a graduate, she has accumulated a variety of experience in digital marketing, events, social media and customer service in hospitality, retail and not-for-profit sector.