How to beat the post-grad blues

As students around the country prepare for their final exams, Sophie Cole considers the fearful question of what happens next

By Sophie Cole

The time after university is confusing. We’re thrown from the excitement of student life into the “real world”. For many of us, this means moving back home with family while we find our feet, away from the friends we’ve spent three or four years hanging out with.

    In a study carried out by the City Mental Health Alliance, a massive 49 per cent of students confessed that their mental wellbeing went south after graduation.  

And all the time the pressure to find a job that utilises our hard-earned degree looms large in the background.

It can feel like you’re all alone in worrying about this, as your peers secure graduate jobs or embark on their travels. But rest assured, you’re not. In a study carried out by the City Mental Health Alliance, a massive 49 per cent of students confessed that their mental wellbeing went south after graduation.

That’s almost a half of the student population struggling with feelings of worry and unease about their next steps. But the good news is that there are lots ways to dip your toe into the big wide world beyond university and get over the post-graduation slump.

Find a routine

One of the most challenging things to get over after university is the lack of routine. Many recent graduates find themselves without much to do while they job hunt or figure out their next move.

“The best thing to do in these circumstances is get into a routine that gives you a reason to get on with your day,” says Just Recruitment Group Ltd director Peter Foy.

“Resist the temptation to watch Netflix or potter around at home. Join a gym class or take the dog for a walk. Help with the household chores or spend time on a personal project. Whatever you do, find a focus and stick with it. That’ll help your mental wellbeing no end, and probably increase your chances of landing the perfect job.”

Join a group

One smart move while job hunting is to look for volunteering opportunities or social activities in your area. Apps like Meetup will help you find loads of fun activities that will get you out of the house, meeting new people and potentially discovering a new hobby. This helps combat some of the loneliness that many people experience after moving away from university friends.

“Volunteering looks fantastic on your CV,” says Mr Foy. “So although you won’t be earning, you will be giving your job prospects a tangible boost, and making yourself feel good into the bargain.”

Don’t fold under the pressure

Another tip is not to put yourself under too much pressure in the months after graduating. “Many people leave university thinking they must secure their dream job within a few weeks or they’ve failed at life,” says Mr Foy. “The reality is that you may spend many years finding the right role for you. In the meantime, relax and weigh your options. You’re not alone if the thought of the future makes you feel nervous or helpless.”

Of course, a university careers team can help sharpen your focus on potential career paths, as can a recruitment company like Just Recruitment.

“Try to connect with other graduates in similar disciplines to yours,” advises Mr Foy. “Use LinkedIn to make connections with people and don’t be afraid to message your contacts with questions or requests for advice. Interactions like these may lead to your first job opportunity. So keep to it and you may be pleasantly surprised by what comes your way.”

Build your experience

If you know which kind of career you’d like to pursue, but don’t have the experience needed to get a full-time job, consider internships and work placements as a way to get your foot in the door.

      "...lots of us were in your position once. And we all got there in the end.”  

Companies often won’t advertise these positions, so try your luck with places you’d love to work by sending speculative emails. You could even consider a higher apprenticeship, offering on-the-job training in industries from film to finance.

“Whatever you choose, remember that there’s no time limit for getting your life in order,” concludes Mr Foy. “If it takes you five weeks or two years to navigate the difficult period after university, remember this: lots of us were in your position once. And we all got there in the end.”

Published: 15 April 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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