Leaving university is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time for every graduate. You’re elated to have finished all your exams and receive a qualification in your field of expertise, but the thought of entering the employment world can be very daunting indeed.
The pressure on graduates is seemingly always increasing, as the economy suffers and expectations become higher, but it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to remain true to yourself and your own goals. It’s easy to get carried away by what society wants for you, but you’re in control of your choices and you need to do what’s right for you and what makes you happy at the end of the day.
How can you overcome these pressures? Let’s look at the 4 main pressures that graduates face, with some tips on how to deal with them and how you can change your thinking around them.
1. Finding the right job promptly
Before you’ve even finished university, and sometimes this can be as early as your second year, you’ll be given information by your lecturers and university advisors about potential job opportunities when you finish. You might even be asked to think about what kind of position you might be interested in looking for and encouraged to research.
While it’s excellent to start thinking about this early on, sometimes thinking is all that’s necessary at the time. The pressure to know what you want to do and where you want to do it can be quite overwhelming for some people, so just remember that you can take it all in your stride if you want to.
Tip: Don’t ignore any information you’re given, because it’s all useful and will likely serve a good purpose in the future, but if you’re not looking for huge success straight after university (let’s face it, not everyone is) then don’t feel the need to succumb to the pressure.
It might be worth letting your advisors know how you feel, so that they don’t put too much pressure on you. It’s okay to not know what you want to do just yet – you’re young, and you have your whole life ahead of you.
2. The expectation to succeed
The pressures that come with choosing to go to university alone are quite substantial – because the expectation is that if you go to university, you’re capable of great successes and a lot of emphasis can be put on this throughout your time there.
If you feel ready for employment and you know exactly what you need to do to get to where you need to be, then that’s brilliant and you’re very lucky. But it’s also just as okay if you don’t know yet, because there’s plenty of time to decide.
Tip: If you feel like others around you are focusing on their post-university decisions and you feel incomparable, remind yourself that you’re at university to study in preparation of your future career.
Future is the operative word here; you can choose to focus on the present, and that way you’re more likely to discover new opportunities and embrace your new-found knowledge as you go. Don’t rush decisions if you’re not quite there yet!
3. To go back home or go it alone
Once you’ve finished all your exams, you can be faced with the decision of whether to go back home to your parents or go it alone and stay in your university city or move to a new one.
Going home isn’t always what you want to do, especially after the three or four years of independence that you’ve had from living away from home. The truth though, is that your finances might not make it viable for you to go it alone – particularly if you don’t have a job lined up yet or you haven’t quite decided what to do.
Tip: Going home is not a bad decision to make, and it is a great option if you want to save money, discover your options and take your time over your next move. You’re not a failure in going back home.
Think of it rather as an opportunity to be sensible about your future and not rush into anything. Your parents are likely to have been a huge support to you throughout university, and you’ll experience that even more if you move back home. Whatever decision you make, don’t give in to the expectations around you!
4. Student loan repayment
The amount of debt that you’ll have when you leave university is something that everyone naturally worries about. You know you need to pay it back, but you wonder when you might be able to.
The beauty of student loans, is that – unlike other types of financial loans – you aren’t expected to start paying back your loan until you start earning over £22,000. There is no time limit as to when you must start paying back, and when you do it will all be relative to your earnings.
It’s quite possible that you won’t pay off your student loan for many years, but you really don’t need to have it hanging over your head because you’ll only pay when your income is high enough. If you plan to go travelling or leave the country for a while, you will need to contact them and let them know your plans though.
Tip: Keep up-to-date with the Student Loans website so that you know what you’re expected to pay and when it will start to be deducted, but other than that you don’t need to even think about it.
Everything is done through HMRC, so once you are earning over the threshold your relative payment will be deducted each month from your earnings. Until then, don’t panic and focus on your own goals!
Leila Wright writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse their graduate jobs London listings, visit their website. For senior roles, see the Inspiring Search page.