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.

giphy

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.

Empathy 

T/W: I talk about victims of sexual assault in this article.

So back in May I had one of the most humbling experiences in my life and it really made me want to talk about empathy.

empathy

ˈɛmpəθi

noun
“the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

I’ve always thought that I was empathetic towards others, but there’s always room for improvement, hence this post. We live in a society where people lack empathy for others because the other person’s situation does not impact on their life and it’s wrong. A lot of people lack empathy and respond to the misfortune of others with their cold and callous opinions which usually consists of victim-blaming. Or the person is pompous and starts speaking of how they would have done things differently and how the victim is “stupid, silly, entitled, lazy, should not have been out late at night” etc. the list goes on. I’ve seen this narrative used against rape victims (since the beginning of time), more recently Grenfell tower victims and even more recently the Hollywood sexual assault victims.

When someone is talking about their painful experience(s), the best thing to do is shut-up and listen with the intent of understanding. Not listening with the intent of responding or with judgement. This is where people fail, they don’t care about what the other person has to say, they just want to talk over them. People also lack the ability to perspective take e.g. putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. For example:

Benefit Seekers:

Benefit seekers are judged as lazy, entitled people who are living a lavish life provided by the taxpayer. This warped view is created by Channel 4 shows like Benefits Street and every tabloid that like to post a “Single mum with 6 kids by 7 different dads lives in an £2.5 million 8 bedroom Kensington town house that YOU pay for” on their front page.

People should be more outraged by wealthy individuals and corporations avoiding paying billions in tax, but, hey! focus on the poor who need the welfare system to survive. The UK is in serious need of a tax system reform, though, but I’ll save that topic for another day.

Now, yes, there are a small number of people who exploit the benefit system and commit fraud because they don’t want to work or because they’re greedy but you can’t tar everyone with the same brush. Most benefit-seekers are those in need, in low paid jobs, have dependents or disabilities, they need the welfare provided to them (which is usually just enough to survive btw).

Imagine your quality of life if you didn’t have a support system, you did not come from a loving home, you’ve unexpectedly lost your low paid job which did not allow you to save because your pay is minuscule, the family breadwinner has died or is extremely ill, your landlord has decided to raise your rent and now you’re homeless because you can’t afford it. Now, imagine there was no system to help you out and you were left to fend for yourself. I read a story this week about a mum who died as a result of her benefits being cut. She missed her benefits meeting because she was in A&E, when she, died she was found in her home wearing a coat and scarf leaving her 4 children behind. Her death could have been avoided, which is why it broke my heart. Hence why the benefit system is needed, to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Grenfell Tower:

I still find it crazy that this atrocity even happened. 6 months on and most of the former residents are still living in hotels. I’ve seen people complain that former residents should “not be picky, they should settle for whatever the council gives them.” which is ridiculous, they shouldn’t settle for anything, their homes were destroyed and they lost family members and friends in a fire that was completely preventable. It’s Rydon and Kensington and Chelsea council’s fault and they have blood on their hands.

T/W: Victims of Sexual Assault:

Rape is always the rapist’s fault. Victims are judged and condemned in many ways, thus perpetuating rape culture, it could be done in the following ways:

  • “Why did she wait so long?” The sad truth is reporting rape is not an easy or simple process and women are barely believed when they report rape or sexual assault. Instead of being listened to these women are condemned. Just because a woman didn’t report an assault, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
  • “What did you drink?” Someone could down a bottle of Rosé and rape will still be the rapist’s fault because he/she has exploited the victim’s vulnerability. Which will always be wrong.

rape

  • “What were you wearing?” whether you go out naked or dress like the Michelin man, rape is still the rapist’s fault. No one is entitled to your body, regardless of the clothes you wear.

The list of condemnation is exhausting, but not limited to the above. Men are not called out on their disgusting behaviour E.g. grabbing a girl’s butt, then turning around acting like you didn’t in a club, getting a girl drunk to sleep with her because you know it will be harder to sleep with her if she’s sober. This behaviour is predatory, it needs to stop, men must be called out by the men around them. I’m also tired of women only getting empathy because of their proximity to someone else, e.g when something bad happens, someone usually says imagine if this was your “mother, daughter, sister” etc. Women should receive empathy for being human, not because they are connected to you in some way.

Rape culture will continue to exist because victims are blamed, shamed and then silenced. All accountability is placed on the victims, not the men who rape and it is so frustrating. It’s frustrating to see disproportionate media coverage on false rape accusations, it’s frustrating to see how entitled men feel to women’s bodies, it’s frustrating to see victims vilified and not receive the empathy and justice they deserve because men are still viewed as animals who lack self-control. Men are not animals, nor are they babies to not know what they’re doing, they should be held accountable for their actions and ostracized or they will continue to rape. It’s that simple.

Discrimination against people with special needs:

If there is anything that grinds my gears, it’s this.

Too many people are vile and abusive to those with special needs and it drives me insane. If it’s not abuse on nights out when someone is minding their business, it’s abuse on public transport. Public transport is an important one, earlier this year I saw this video:

First thing first, the wheelchair space is meant for wheelchair users first then buggies. If your buggy can fold, then fold it and let a wheelchair user use the space. They need it more than you. If a wheelchair user is “taking too long” to get on the bus do not tut or sigh for once imagine if you were in their position, have some compassion and use your common sense.

How can you be so horrible and have such disregard for human life? Also I hate when people make jokes about people with special needs. No one asks to be born with special needs. I can’t respect you if you don’t respect them.

White Privilege and Racism:

White privilege is real, please click here.

Racism still exists and will continue to exist if people deny its existence. Whether it’s institutional, systemic, police brutality, etc. It still exists. Just because you:

  • “Don’t see colour”,
  • Interracial relationships are on the rise,
  • America had a mixed race president,
  • You have a black bf,
  • Some countries have it “worse” than others,
  • Rappers say “nigga” in their songs.
  • You’re a person of colour (POC) and like being seen as “compliant/good POC.” So you hate when black people speak up,

Doesn’t mean people should refrain from protesting the injustice they face. You should empathise with people and see how you can help combat the injustice they face instead of telling them to “get over it” or start victim blaming.

Last but definitely not least fat-shaming:

People go out of their way to be horrible to fat people and say/do nasty things for no reason. Whether it’s saying horrible things while they’re minding their business in the street, at a club or on public transport. Even on twitter, people decide to tear people’s appearance apart and it’s insidious.

This comic illustrates my point perfectly:

People become big through different reasons, the main reason not burning as many calories as their intake, they’ve had a baby, they have a medical condition, food tastes really good (duh) or they have been using food as a coping mechanism. This could be from when you’re young, being overweight when you’re young can set you up for obesity for the rest of your life and ruin your self-esteem. All the foods you were given are now bad for you and it’s hard to give them up. Coupled with a low esteem because of how you look, clothes not fitting well enough, your size not being catered to and fear that someone will say or do something, it’s not a fun life, sometimes you can feel trapped in your own body.

If you’re overweight and reading this, your weight does not define you as a person.

Those who are overweight already know what they look like, some are happy and comfortable kudos to them. I can only imagine how it feels to be 100% comfortable in the skin you’re in. Others are not happy and look at themselves daily and want to make a change but feel like they can’t. Losing weight is hard and they don’t need your unnecessary comments which are usually born out of spite, not because you care about their health. Again a fat person could post a pic of themselves and get hateful comments for being confident within themselves and people will hide it under the guise of caring about their health. When really they don’t like it when overweight people are confident because they think fat people don’t deserve confidence and should be hidden. Same thing happens to confident women who others don’t deem attractive, people love to shut them down relentlessly.

Fat Shaming v Thin Shaming:

I’ve seen a lot off fat vs thin shaming tweets and thought I might as well address it here:

“Thin Person: How come if a fat person posts a pic, society says “woo body positivity, slay girl etc.” But if I (a thin person) post a pic I’m told to go and eat something, stop showing of etc.” — Let’s be real, there maybe some body-positivity for fat people but usually its Ashley Graham in a buzzfeed article. Ashley Graham is like the poster girl for the body positive movement, she’s a plus size women with hour-glass figure and a relatively flat stomach, to me she’s a conventional fat. She’s not like other women (and this is no dig at Ashley) who have saggy bellies, several love handles, stretch marks everywhere and rolls. Those women are usually told to put some clothes on, hide, or even die if they share pictures of themselves online. If people are telling you to eat something because you’re thin, tell them you’re fine, you have a fast metabolism and to mind their business.

Or

“How comes if a fat person can ask me if I’ve eaten but If I call them fat it’s an issue”

—Whenever I see this type of tweet I have two thoughts.

  1. Is it only fat people that shame you? I’ve seen people get thin-shamed by people of various sizes but only choose to call out fat people because they’re fat. Unless the person is asking you out of concern e.g your mum, best friend or partner tell them to mind their business.
  2. Is it a family member who said this? From first hand experience I know how annoying family members can be with their fake concern and irrelevant comments about your body/why aren’t you married yet/why don’t you study more etc. If it is a family member (especially a distant one) tell them to mind their business or change the subject.

With the Fat vs. Thin shaming stuff it’s best if everyone just minded their business. It’s not hard.

From looking at the responses to the tweets above, you can probably tell that I don’t believe thin-shaming and fat shaming are the same, because I don’t.

“Thinness is not only the beauty standard but also a false gauge of health, wellness, energy, cleanliness, ambition, intelligence, and morality. A study from the University of Albert showed that “when a thin person is seen lying down watching television, people assume they’re resting. But when people see an overweight person relaxing, it’s automatically assumed they’re lazy and unmotivated.” Yet, clearly, this is not the case.”

-Taken from The Body is Not An Apology, very interesting article if you want to read more.

However, I do think both are damaging because no one should feel that their body is not good enough. I understand how statements like “Real Women have curves” and “How can you be a girl and have no boobs/bum you might as well be a man?” because it can make you feel horrible about your body because they are horrible especially the latter. The size of your bum or chest should not define if you’re a woman or not and not having curves is OK. I know it’s easier said than done but don’t let society dictate how you feel about yourself.

To conclude, society would be a better place if people empathized with others, showed some compassion when people are in a rough place and remembered that they could end up in a rough place too if their life goes down hill (God forbid). Society would also improve immensely if people thought about people’s feelings and how their actions affect others on a daily basis— not only when someone commits suicide. Remember your words have power and can have a negative or positive effect on people, hence why it would also be great if people remembered that not everything you think needs to be said. Therefore, before you say something negative about someone else ask yourself “is this really needed?” if it’s not then don’t say it. There’s enough negativity and pain in the world that you should not be adding to.

If you struggle with empathizing with others below are some tips:

  • https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm
  • https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/empathy.html
  • https://www.wikihow.com/Show-Empathy
  • http://time.com/3562863/5-ways-to-be-more-empathetic/
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw