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.

Getting a job after graduation – #SarahsJobSeries

To kick off Sarah’s Job series (#sarahsjobseries), I will give you tips on finding a job after graduation as well as giving you tips about working full time.

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!

Before you look for a job, create a career plan and decide:

  1. What type of job do you want?
  2. What industry do you want to go into?
  3. What is your long-term career goal?
  4. What do you want to achieve?
  5. How long you want to stay in your current workplace?
  6. When you want to be promoted and if you want to do a chartered qualification?
  7. How far do you want to work from home?

Do you want to be a CFO (Chief Financial Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer), CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or make enough money when working full time work to become a blogger, photographer or sports coach full time?

Search for jobs that fit into your career plan, doing other roles will distract and divert you from your plan in the long term. However, there may be some great opportunities out there that don’t fit into your plan, weigh up the pros and cons then decide which is best for you. Most graduate jobs require experience, this can be from part-time jobs, summer internships and placement years. You’re more likely to get the job if you have industry experience although this is not always possible. Experience is important because you gain transferable skills such as teamwork, communication, self-motivation, analysis, diffusing conflict and organization skills. If you don’t have experience in your field, you MUST highlight the transferable skills you gained from part-time work and Uni. My favourite transferable skills to mention that are not industry related are my organization and teamwork skills gained from group work, finding time to study and working part-time whilst at university.

I’M NOT DOING A MASTERS, WHY DO I NEED ANOTHER QUALIFICATION?

Your job may require you to study for a professional qualification, these are vocational training courses that relate to a specific industry or career path, and this includes:

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) – Accounting
  • BCS -The Chartered Institute for IT – IT
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) – Accounting
  • Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – HR
  • Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) – Insurance
  • Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) – Civil Engineers
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – Surveyors

After completing the course, you achieve chartered status, meaning you can demand more money, yay. In all seriousness, chartered qualifications are important because they can increase your lifetime earnings significantly, in addition, you have a qualification that others don’t have, you gain new skills which will aid in your personal development and broaden your career opportunities. My suggestion is to visit Prospects for a more extensive list of chartered qualifications visit www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate-study/professional-qualifications

If you plan on doing a professional qualification, then find a job that will provide study support this usually means you have to stay at the company for a few years or you’ll have to pay them back for some or all of the study support. This is called a clawback and should be stipulated in your contract. I strongly believe after paying such an extortionate amount for university, you should make sure you find a job willing to invest in you by providing study support. When I looked for my graduate job I made sure my job was providing study support for my CIMA qualification and I did not accept or apply to any jobs that were not providing it because I know my worth and career goal is to be a chartered accountant first, before anything else.

Lastly, decide how far you want to work from home. Are you willing to travel 2 hours to work? That’s 4 hours daily, is this really what you want? I did it for a year and I can tell you now, it’s not what you want.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO BE OR WHAT INDUSTRY YOU WANT, TRY TO FIGURE OUT:

  1. What your passions are?
  2. What you’re good at?
  3. What environment you think you’ll enjoy working in and go from there?

I recommend GE’s career test: https://gecareers.traitify.com, I completed it and thought it was very accurate with a role that suits my skills and personality.

Even after creating a career plan and completing the test you may not find the perfect job for you, you might find something you’re good enough and stick to it and that’s OK. I feel like so many of us think if a profession doesn’t match us perfectly, it’s not for us and I don’t think that’s the case.

Before I applied for my current job I prayed over it with ‘By Faith, I Receive My God-Given Job’ by Pastor Veronica Anusionwu (Founder Of The Lord’s Words On Healing Ministries: http://lwhhealingcentre.com/prayers-for-those-looking-for-a-job/ ). I thoroughly recommend this book, Pastor Veronica is a remarkable pastor and author and I’ve been blessed with my current job due to the prayers and so has one of my friends. Prayer works, invest in yourself and buy the book.

FINDING A JOB

The job market is disgustingly competitive. Unless you have previous experience in the field you want to go into don’t be upset if you don’t get handed a job once you walk off the podium at graduation.

To give yourself the best chance of securing a great graduate job you must send several applications out, which is tedious because you must rewrite information that is already in your CV into boxes, do numerical, verbal/non-verbal, logical, situational and psychometric tests, attend assessment centres and do multiple interviews for one post. Although it’s time consuming, once you get the job it will be really rewarding.

When trying to find a job you can use the below job sites, sign up to recruitment agencies and check out company careers pages:

When trying to practice for verbal, numerical psychometric tests use assessmentday.com and practiceaptitudetests.com

Many people do not get a job within the first year they graduate because the market is that competitive, when I went to assessment centres before I found my current job there were many people who finished their masters or bachelors the previous year and were still unemployed.

When I graduated, I signed up to many recruitment agencies, but the one that stood out to me is Robert Walters (robertwalters.co.uk), they sent me loads of job posts and called me to discuss posts, although I did not get my current post through them, I still recommend them because of how professional they were.

NETWORK

Go to graduate job fairs and networking events, there are so many companies to see and many people to network with. You never know what opportunities may arise.

GLASSDOOR AND PAYSCALE

When looking for a job, check Glassdoor.com for reviews on the company, I refused to apply for jobs that were less than 3 out of 5 because that means staff were miserable and I refuse to be unhappy at a place I spend most of my day at. Additionally, check the average salary for people in your field at payscale.com to make sure you’re not underselling yourself. If a company wants great talent, they should be willing to pay for it.

FRAUDULENT JOB POSTS

When looking for jobs be vigilant for fraudulent jobs advertisements and emails because fraudsters will take any opportunity to prey people. If you see a job that’s too good to be true, it might not actually be and any job that wants you to pay for a ‘qualification’ or ‘check’ before you get the job is likely to be fraudulent so be alert. Be wary of jobs that don’t even address you by your name. When I was looking for a job, I randomly received this email:

“Dear Candidate,

After careful consideration you have been selected for our Sales and Customer Service Role with XYZ Organisation. My manager would like to meet with you to discuss the role further. I know this is very last minute but unfortunately we are wrapping up the recruitment process therefore we would like to schedule you in for the following appointment:

Appointment Time/Date: Thursday 27th of July at 3.15pm OR Thursday 27th of July at 3:45pm

Location: London

Meeting with: The Apparent CEO of the company

Please reply promptly with your name to confirm your preferred appointment time and the appointment will be confirmed automatically. If you are not available for the above dates please contact our office and ask for the recruiter who couldn’t even put my name in the email.

The appointment is scheduled to last approximately 30 minutes. Please ensure that you attend in Smart casual (NO blue jeans or trainers) and bring a copy of your most updated CV if you can.”

  1. My name is not “Candidate”
  2. Who told you I wanted the job?
  3. How do you know I am free that day?
  4. How can you give me two appointment slots on the same day and tell me to choose?
  5. If I have been selected for a role, why do you need my latest CV? Shouldn’t you have this already?
  6. Why are you telling me what to wear when you don’t even know my name?

The list goes on, If a job is addressing you as “Dear Candidate” and offering you a job role without seeing your CV, block them. It’s a scam. (Unless someone you know recommended you, but you would have knowledge of that anyway)

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF

When looking for a job, stay true to yourself. There’s no point applying for a company you don’t believe in or won’t be comfortable at. When I was looking for a graduate job, I was asked if I was interested in being put forward for a role as a Finance Analyst at The Daily Mail. I politely declined for obvious reasons. If you know in your heart that a job won’t be right for you because the company has a history of being unethical, don’t apply. You don’t need unnecessary stress in your life.

INTERVIEWS

Go into your interviews with confidence and research the company thoroughly, e.g. know what the company does, who is in their executive team, when it was formed, any major press releases they have had in the last 3 months (have they merged with another company) and what will be expected of you. Check glass door for questions they have asked in previous interviews and then prepare answers that show your experience.

Interviews are a two-way street, not only are the employer deciding if you’re suitable for the position, you get to decide if the company is suitable for you, also, if you like the people there and if you can see yourself progressing there. I had several interviews at a firm but one of the interviewers was so rude that I just couldn’t see myself working there so when I didn’t get the job I was fine about It and the job I ended up getting paid more so it was a blessing. No one should be miserable at work.

REJECTION

Rejections hurt. You may think an interview or even application went well and days/weeks, even months go past, and you receive the below responses which hurt, especially if it’s a job you wanted:

“We’re sorry to inform you”

“Unfortunately, we have decided to”

“We received a large number of applications and…”

The list goes on and you may not even receive a rejection email at all.

SELF-PITY is allowed for a short period of time, but you can’t wallow in your own sadness for days because life will keep going even when you’re not so don’t panic and keep trying. Job hunting is time consuming and rejections hurt, but every rejection leads to an opportunity. Hopefully, you won’t receive any more rejections.

TIPS AFTER FINDING A JOB

Huzzah, after fighting tooth and nail you’ve hopefully found the job for you.

Full time work is different, but you can meet some great people at work and you receive a lot of responsibility which will allow you to grow in your career and as a person. However, it can be stressful, you may have to get on the tube every day, you must meet your deadlines, targets and organizational goals and you may not actually like the people you work with. It’s sad, but it happens.

Meeting company targets is extremely important so work hard and prioritize the most important task and finish that first. If you realize you don’t like your colleagues, its ok, keep yourself to yourself and remember you get paid to work, so work hard, and then go home. You only have to deal with them at work. If you want to get to know your colleagues more, go to social events and talk to new people, I have friends in different departments at work which I like because everyone is different.
DOCUMENT EVERYTHING

Keep everything in writing, I hate to say this, but people lack accountability and will be willing to throw you under the bus to make themselves look better and absolve all responsibility from themselves, so make sure you follow up with email confirmations clarifying things that you can use as evidence in the future.

Document what you do at work, everyone thinks they will remember what they do day in day out, you won’t, so write it down, then you can use the evidence of what you’ve achieved when negotiating your salary.
SOCIAL MEDIA

Be wary of adding your colleagues on social media, if you know there’s things you’re doing online that you don’t want them to see then don’t add them on Instagram, snapchat or twitter. You may think you’re great friends with your colleagues, but are you really? If you call in sick because you went out the previous night how do you know your colleague won’t mention it, whether intentionally or non-intentionally because they have you on snapchat? Keep your business and personal life separated, it will save you a lot of headache because prevention is better than cure.

If you decide to add your colleagues on social media do a social media purge e.g. on twitter, search your @ with offensive and disrespectful key words and delete those tweets. We live in a ‘cancel’ culture where people will dig up your old tweets to find what they can use against you sometimes because you deserved it, other times because they don’t want to see you do well or they hate that you’ve changed from the person you once were. That’s the consequence of having a digital footprint, it’s there for everyone to see. Maybe your views have changed since then, maybe they haven’t, regardless delete what could be used against you or make your personal account private and create a professional account to have your colleagues on.

To conclude, getting a job after graduation can be hard work, but persevere and hopefully you find the right job for you with a great salary too.

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