LIFE AFTER GRADUATION

Last year I graduated with a degree in Accounting and Finance, a year later I’m working full time and I’m here to give you tips on life after graduation and share my experience.

GRADUATION

Graduation is an anti-climax, you spend years trying to get your degree, then you prep for graduation, do your hair, makeup, you walk across the stage, get handed your degree and then just like that it was over. The day after my graduation, was the weirdest morning, the sky was grey, it was cold and my graduation was everything but that. I felt so ill and panicked that morning that I went for a walk in the park and not to over exaggerate, but it dawned on me that this is it. I’m done with Uni, I’m an adult, I have a degree, I don’t have a job and I now have to carve the life I want to create for myself. No one can tell me what to do with my life and no one can do it for me. Then I was faced with confusion, how am I going to carve the life I want? What life do I even want? How am I going to achieve the things I want to do? Where will I find the time? I didn’t have the answer to most of the questions at the time, but I came to the conclusion that the only way I can make any of this happen is to live for myself because at least then if I don’t get what I want at least I can say I did the things that made me happy.

– Me at my graduation 🎓

Common things people say about university:

“Uni will be the best time of your life”

“You’ll make lifelong friends”

“You only need 40% for your first year”

“Living on campus is the best”

“You’ll meet the love of your life”

What happens when it’s all over and you graduate?

Do you go back to your student accommodation and cry?… No.

You join the world of adulting.

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The world of adulting is challenging, to say the least.

Adulting is challenging because it is nothing you have ever experienced before. For the first time in your life you are completely done with education, unless you decide to further your education. Terminado, terminé, finito, done. No lectures, no assignments, no emailing lectures at 11:59 because Turnitin wants you to fail and most importantly no group work.

So, what do you do after you graduate? Most people have three options, travel around the world because they were smart enough to save their student loan, do a masters or find a job.

If you’re like me, you chose to find a job, congrats!

For more on finding a job after graduation, click here.

YOU CAN’T MISS WORK JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE TIRED AND YOU FEEL TIRED ALL OF THE TIME.

There’s been so many days where I’ve woken up at 6:30am and wanted to stay in bed all day but couldn’t. Not being able to miss work like you missed lectures is a shock to the system, but you’ll get over it… Eventually.

Workdays are harder than Uni day because there’s much more to do in 8 hours of work than 8 hours of lectures. It’s jam packed with tasks and responsibilities which are constantly changing, so don’t be shocked that you feel tired all the time. I thought I was tired at Uni but this is much worse because work is very challenging and exhausting.

Just to make sure it wasn’t just me that felt tired sometimes, I asked my three group chats if they felt tired most of the time, everyone said yes… So be prepared. Full time work is draining, taking the tube is draining, meeting up with friends is draining so don’t be surprised when you decide a quiet night in with a movie and some pizza is more attractive than clubbing. Although some of us have felt like that since 1st year but I digress.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Finding a work-life balance has been quite hard for me to be honest because there’s so many things I want to do. Life before graduation was so simple, I would go to Uni, relax, then revise or chill with my housemates, now I want to perform well at work, socialize with my friends, spend some time with family, have some time to myself, work on apieceofsarah.com and keep fit/ healthy but there are only 24 hours in a day.

My ways of trying to balance life and deal with stress are:

  • Keeping my weekends free so I can stay in bed, blog, chill with the family and opt to meet up with my friends after work. I love doing nothing on a Saturday because having my ‘me’ time is very important to me, but it’s harder said than done because my friends and I have conflicting schedules.
  • I love face masks, they’re so simple to apply, but make me feel relaxed. Having clean pores and no spots makes me feel good about myself and less stressed about all the other things going on in my life.
  • I like turning off my phone, I don’t believe we should be available 24/7, so I sometimes turn off my phone on Friday/Saturday night and some evenings.
  • I love listening to classical music, and taking long walks when things are in my mind
  • I constantly try to remind myself that nothing is the end of the world, everything is a learning curve and if you die at work, you’ll still be replaced because in the corporate world, no one is indispensable.

Full time work is long hours and can be very stressful depending on what industry and company you’re in, so it’s important to find that balance.

PAYDAY IS THE BEST DAY

One of the main perks of life after graduating is you getting PAID! Instead of depending on student finance every three months you get paid monthly which helps make budgeting your finances much easier. Payday is beautiful, the sun shines, your bank account is healthy and you don’t have to worry about the state of your finances until your standing orders and direct debits come out the next day. You’re first pay day is usually the most money you receive before HMRC start taxing you, use it wisely, save a lot of it and pay off your student overdraft if possible.

DON’T MOVE OUT YET

If you live at home with your parents, you can save up for a house. Utilize this time at home to save, renting and paying for your own food isn’t cheap. I know it’s tempting to want to move out as soon as you graduate because you’re so used to having your own space, but don’t rush it, there are so many bills that come with moving out that you don’t want to make the mistake of paying prematurely e.g. council tax, etc.

LEARN HOW TO BUDGET

Life after Uni is expensive, going to work is expensive, direct debits are expensive. Not having student discount is expensive, yes, say bye to unidays and NUS extra. Gym membership, phone bills, weekly travel cards, Netflix, Apple music, Spotify, paying for your prescription, work drinks, dinners and cocktails at rooftop bars with friends are all expensive and all these expenses add up so be wise and budget.

Let’s not forget the most extortionate expense of all, food. Buying food is extortionate, if you buy breakfast, lunch and a coffee at work you’ll be spending £12 daily, that’s £60 a week just to eat at work, so bring in your own food. I buy my own cereal, which is usually £2 and store it in my locker at work, work provides milk and the cereal lasts two weeks depending on which one I buy, so that’s breakfast for two weeks at £2 compared to buying a ham and cheese toastie from Pret a Manger for £3.99 daily, £2 for two weeks compared to £39.90. A saving of just under £20 every week from bringing in cereal. I’m not a big coffee drinker so I have Nescafé Gold cappuccino sachets in my locker, the packet is £2 for 10, a small cappuccino at Starbucks is £2.25, each. A week of Starbucks is £11.25 versus a week of Nescafé is £1 (if I drink 1 cup a day). Be smart, bring in your own food and drink.

No one can prepare you for this, so I’m telling you now, budget and save where you can. You can budget by establishing your total income for the month, all vital expenses (rent, food, travel cards) then calculate how much you can save then live off what you have.

TIP FOR SAVING

It’s always nice to know that you have money in the bank if everything goes wrong. My best money saving tip is to open a bank account that does not have a debit card access and transfer money to that account every payday. That way you know you won’t be tempted to move money out of it.

I know many people use spending money as a way to make themselves happier, me included #ILOVEONLINESHOPPING, but not having savings to fall back on for a rainy day is setting yourself up for failure. So please budget how much you want to spend weekly and stick to it. It’s ok to decline work drinks if you’re trying to save, your colleagues will go out the week after.

MEETING UP WITH FRIENDS IS HARDER THAN EVER

Your friends don’t live across the hall from you, they now live halfway across London, England or even the world. So now you must plan well in advance when to meet up, but everyone is extremely busy, juggling work, creative projects, exams and family, so you must find a way to squeeze each other in. Don’t be shocked if it becomes a recurring cycle of when are we going to meet up and both of you realize you’re not free when you thought you were and the cycle continues. I use my phone calendar to keep track when I’m meeting with friends.

Even if you don’t end up meeting up when you plan to, make the effort to keep in contact with your friends or you will be alone as everyone is busying making sense of their own life. People only have time for those who make the effort.

“WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO NEXT?” BECOMES A WORSE QUESTION THAN “HOW IS UNI?”

You would think after completing your degree, all the questions would stop, but they don’t. People always want to know what you’re going to do next or they’ll tell you what to do next. “Do you have a job yet?” *five seconds later* “Have you got a job now?” and my personal favourite, “You should do a masters”.

Do what’s right for you and keep it moving because everyone may feel like they deserve an input in your life, but only you will live with the decisions you make.

YOU MAY QUESTION IF THIS WILL BE YOUR LIFE FOREVER

It’s ok, a lot of people do, more than they liked to admit. I did this 3 weeks into my placement year because I was SO over it. I didn’t like working full time and didn’t expect it to be so hard or have so much responsibility placed on me, but my placement year prepared me for full time work now and showed me what I did and didn’t want from a job and I’m grateful. My placement was very different from others, I worked two hours away from home and had to get up at 5am to get work at 8am every day. Never again, you couldn’t pay me enough to do that.

You may question if you’re doing this right and if you’re doing enough, I know I do. I don’t think I’m doing enough, however, I do think I’m doing some things right because I tick off stuff on my to-do lists.

This will be your life forever unless you, find a career you love* (then you would actually enjoy what you’re doing), marry into wealth, become a housewife/househusband, win the lottery or find a way to make your creative passion pay for your lifestyle. If you know you already hate your grad job or the industry you work in you can either find a new job or stay until the scheme ends and then find another job but this depends on if they provide study support. For me, I’m ok with working full time, I like getting paid, I like my company, it’s almost the perfect distance from my house, I just hate how tired working makes me feel a times.

*It may be the company you work at, not the career itself.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE CHANGED?

I wish I waited a few months before applying for jobs, saved more money and travelled. Those are my regrets because now when I want to travel, I use up my annual leave which makes me sad. If you have enough money to travel before you start working, then do it. Travelling is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. If you want job security after you return from your travels, apply for jobs that have a start date of September or later in the following year, then you can attend interviews before you travel and then enjoy yourself.

Additionally, don’t be scared to apply for some roles because you feel they might not accept you. If you don’t try, you won’t know whether there was an opportunity waiting for you there.

So, there you have it. Time flies when you’re working full time, the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months. As you can see 2018 is almost over, that’s what working full time is, you blink and suddenly it’s Monday again, this happens all year.

To combat this, I plan ahead so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my life away, I try to budget so I don’t spend my money on frivolous things and take some ‘me time’ so I don’t burn out. Life after Graduation is challenging and really hard, but you get paid and you develop as a person. Not everything is lost after you finish Uni, especially if you manage to get the job you like.

The pain of feeling unappreciated. 

Unappreciated and overburdened. 


There is nothing worse than going out of your way for someone and when a similar situation arises, they don’t do the same for you or they don’t say thank you.  While you shouldn’t do things for others in expectation of receiving something in return; it’s still painful to know that,  that person wouldn’t and doesn’t appreciate you or your time. There are so many people who do not have the same heart as you and do not have good intentions for you, which sets you up for many disappointments along the road. Don’t get me wrong, there are good appreciative people in the world and if you find them, keep them close but there are plenty of users too. The person reading this may or may not be a user too, but only on self-reflection can you answer this question. When this happens to me, I try to remind myself that God will reward me for doing things out of the kindness of my heart, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

When you feel unappreciated you have three options:


  1. Say how you feel 

  1. Distance yourself

  1. Don’t go out of your way for them again

Speaking about your feelings –  If you’re like me, you probably hate speaking about your feelings out of fear of overreacting or saying something offensive because you’re undiplomatic, or you expect everyone to have a certain level of respect/common sense/unselfishness and most importantly to avoid conflict. You have to stop biting your tongue to avoid hurting someone who is hurting you, I mean, how else would they know how you feel? Depending on the situation is and how angry I am, I get my point across by writing down how I feel then speaking to the person later so I don’t forget the important points and to make sure I’m not over-reacting and to avoid saying something hurtful.


Distancing yourself – Self-explanatory. I avoid that person and situations where I would feel inclined to go out of my way for them, this could be late replies to texts and decreasing my availability.  If you feel unappreciated by everyone around you, take some timeout to enjoy your own company, but don’t overdo this as it can be unhealthy.


Don’t go out of your way for them again – This is hard when you have a giving spirit and you like helping others but you can’t let people exploit you and your kindness. Remember you’re not a doormat, so put your foot down. If I feel like I’m going out of my way for someone (based on our level of friendship and our past) I will stop and ask myself would they do the same for me and if that answer is “no” I don’t do stuff for them because I have boundaries to set. Setting up boundaries around unappreciative people takes some time, but it’s worth it and you won’t regret it because when people get comfortable they think they are entitled to your time and resources when they’re not. You have the strength to say no or refer them to other people when you’re asked for things, as there’s no point doing things for people who will just take and take and take until you’re left empty, you need to look after yourself.


See my previous post: “The Power of Saying “No” 


To conclude, being unappreciated hurts but remember that you always have options when it happens. 

Toxic friendships 

Friendships are weird, you meet someone, you start talking, notice you enjoy the same things and you build from there. As time goes on you become friends.  

Over the last few years I’ve realized the significance of friendships and why it’s essential  to limit who gets to know the real you. Friends have an affect on our happiness, self esteem and not to mention stress levels. So it’s wise to not accept or entertain everyone as a friend because not everyone deserves you. Not everyone has the same heart as you and quite frankly not everyone is entitled to your time.

From my experience there are so many “friends” you need to be cautious of.
All are toxic. 

A toxic friend as defined by Jenn Berman WebMD  “Someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.” 

I’m going to speak about 5 types of toxic friends, sometimes more than one of these traits are in the same person:

  1. The emotional freeloader
  2. Extremely negative friends
  3. Friends who always talk about themselves 
  4. The friend who can’t take constructive criticism 
  5. The friend who gives really bad advice

I came up with the phrase “emotional freeloader because freeloaders are people who take advantage of your generosity without giving anything in return. In this case they’re your friends and they are always emotional, hence the name.

The emotional freeloader uses you as their therapist but is never available  for the important things like meet up or attend your birthday. Always calls you when things are going wrong in their life but never asks you if you’re okay. You’re last place in their life and even the people they say they  hate  are prioritized over you. They’re untrustworthy and overtime you’ve  realized what they say doesn’t add up. As their “therapist” they usually don’t listen to you and get into the same situation again and again and again. Which regularly takes up your time and energy. No one should waste your time nor energy. Let’s face it, your friendship is one sided and you’re making all the effort. They don’t value you and  their problems are not worth headache they’re causing.
Either communicate or cut them out. 

Extremely negative friends. AVOID. AVOID. AVOID.

I feel like there’s two types of negative friends in the world: 

  1. The one who thinks the world is constantly against them 
  2. The one who wants the world to be constantly against you 

For most of  this section  I’ll  be focusing on the latter. Negative people are bad for our health. Google it. Misery loves company and all negative people  do is bring you down with them. They want you in the same place as them, if not, below. You tell them your ideas, they say “it can’t happen/it won’t work” or something unsupportive along those lines. Remind you of someone? Yeah? Steer clear.

If you have to pause before telling a friend positive news because you fear the backlash you will receive, or they’ll say something negative to put you down?
Chances are you shouldn’t be friends in the first place.
Don’t let people project their negative thoughts and feelings onto you. 

I’ve learnt to always listen to people’s response and tone when talking about good and bad things. Why? Mainly because too many people are more excited to hear about your failures than achievements, which is why it’s  good to keep things to yourself sometimes.  

Part of me thinks “friends” are negative  to compensate for their own shortfalls as it makes them feel better about themselves. Another part thinks they believe they’re  in some sort of competition with you. The rest of me believes it’s because they’re evil. 

Cheque please!

The friend who always talks about themselves. You’re trying to say how you feel and they’ve interjected with something completely unrelated but totally about them. Or your friend will interject with something related but they will make the conversation about themselves and this happens constantly. You feel as though  you’re fighting to speak and in the end you give up. You’ll end up talking  about them for what seems like an eternity and  as a consequence your problem is still unsolved so  your emotions are neglected.  Sometimes people are unaware and they don’t notice their selfishness. Talk to them about their behaviour, otherwise cut them off or limit the time you time spent with them. 

The friend who can’t take constructive criticism: Your friend is in the wrong, you’ve told them and they’re angry at you?! Anyone who can’t take constructive criticism and is angry/insulting when you give it to them needs to be avoided. I say constructive criticism because the aim is to get a positive outcome and it comes from a good place. 

I had a friend a few years back who could never accept when she was wrong and her attitude was vile. She was a funny person when she wasn’t being horrible but she was too proud to accept her faults.  One day in the summer of 2012, she walked off because I was apparently  “taking too long in a shop and why should she be heading home late because of me?”

¿Que?

Bearing in mind I had spent roughly six hours with her that day trying to buy the  things she needed. We went from East London to South London then back to East. That’s one hell of a TFL journey  with several tube changes and a bus. I told her, her attitude was still horrible and I was upset since I did all those things for her but she didn’t have the courtesy to spend 15 minutes in River Island with me. (I say “still” because we had spoken about it before and she had lost friends because of it.)
Anyway she didn’t take that text well at all and I found out how she truly felt about me. Let’s just say it was horrible and I laughed at the texts with my mum. Anyone with that kind of hatred in their heart shouldn’t be in my life. We thank God.
What you call a wolf in sheep clothing.

A year or so later she  messaged me to apologize which I think I replied to and she added me back on Facebook years after that which she ended up deleting because I just left it there. People like that should never be in or allowed back into your life, ever.

Burn that bridge before it burns you. 

The friend who gives you really bad advice: I can’t even repeat the worst advice I’ve ever received but let’s just say my excuse for ending the call was “I need to get back to reading the Da Vinci Code.” Anyone of a sound mind who gives you bad advice or you make several bad decisions around should be avoided. If your friend tries to push you to do negative things, act dangerously, unhealthily, do something that’s borderline illegal  or downright stupid they need to go, they’re not good for you. 


Good friends will always want the best for each other. Period.

When people show you who they are, believe them. Don’t use the length of your friendship as an excuse to keep them . When I was younger I used to hold on to friendships, not anymore, I value my time, energy and sanity too much. I don’t regret any friends I’ve lost because people are never worth the inconvenience they cause. Overtime we mature and become conscious of who our friends really are, it’s acceptable to cut people out, especially those you’re not growing with and starting to resent because they are one of the friends I spoke about.

If you really want to hold on to the friends I’ve mentioned, then talk to them because sometimes people are unaware of their actions. Unless they can’t take criticism like #4 then run for the hills.

If you’ve read this post and can relate to it,  then leave a comment/share your thoughts.

If you’ve read this post and can’t relate to it,  you either have a great friendship group which you should cherish or you’re the toxic friend.  Hopefully it’s the former. 

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