Unless you’re careful, post-grad life can be tough. Your parents might be pressuring you to get a job and move out of their house, so they can stop you eating all their food. Your friends might be permanently talking about all the money they’re making in their high-flying, corporate jobs in the city. The guy who bullied you mercilessly in high school might have just bought himself a Range Rover with his trust fund money. Whatever your situation, here are a few tips on what you can do to keep your head above the water that life seems to be pouring on you in your post-grad world.
Apply for jobs before you finish school
The people I know that are succeeding in a really tough world of work at the moment are the ones who got their future sorted whilst still at college or university. I know it’s hard to prioritize this over studying; I always said I would apply for jobs in January or April when I got to my final year, but I got so wrapped up in assignments and dissertation writing that it just fell to the wayside. I’m paying the price for my sins now, working 8-hour shifts in food service for almost minimum wage. Be pro-active in getting some form of employment before you finish. It doesn’t have to be your exact future career; even if it’s just an internship or work experience placement, knowing you have something to do when you finish can take a lot of that anxiety away.
Get some structure whilst you apply for jobs.
If, like me, you don’t manage to get those job applications in before you finish, the next step is finding something to do that will provide you with a consistent timetable. Obviously, you need to keep looking for the jobs you need to do, but a timetable will help make that a part of your schedule. Part-time work is great for this, giving you a rota that will force you to do the important things that really need doing in the limited spare time you have, whilst also giving you some much-needed economic freedom that your student loan has spent the last three years denying you.
If you’ve had your fill of service work alongside your studies and simply can’t face any more, find something else constructive that you can put time into. Volunteering for charities or applying for internships and work experience placements will give you great CV boosting material and give you some proper structure. Even if it’s just sitting down and writing that novel you always said you were going to write for a few hours a day or getting a timetabled workout regime going, something that shapes your day is so important to keeping your mental wellbeing and ensuring you keep sending off those applications.
Put restrictions on your leisure time
The structure you’ll get from finding something consistent in the day will help to define your free time, but it’s still really important to make sure that your priorities are in order and you’re spending a good amount of time firing off CVs before you relax and do something else. As a lifelong gamer with a love of Fortnite and full days with nothing to fill them, I could easily rack up sums between 3 to 7 hours of gaming a day, and that’s not even an exaggeration.
I would suggest either writing down how many hours you’re spending doing concentrated, constructive things versus your leisure activities so you have a record of how well you’re balancing your time, or even making ‘to-do’ lists with your goals for the day on them, and only enjoying your leisure time when you’ve completed those tasks. It’s been a useful exercise for me to have set daily goals, helping me stay focused on what I need to be before I start screaming at the TV because I’ve just come 2nd in a Solo Battle Royale to some absolute noob with a green and grey loadout. I’m not bitter about it, I promise.
Enjoy the freakin’ ride
It’s important to start figuring out what you want to do at some point but, if all else is failing you, just sit back and let it happen around you. Post-grad life is the last extended period where your responsibilities are relatively low until you retire, and you’ll have your whole life to work. As long as you’re bringing in enough money to keep yourself afloat, you don’t lose sight of your long-term goals and you’re still actively participating in finding your future, there’s not too much to worry about.
The key is to not get dragged into other people’s rat races and make sure you’re always in a good headspace; you’re no use to anyone if you’re not feeling like yourself. Stay positive and don’t let anyone else’s panic get into your head. One way or another, it WILL all work out.
How’s post-grad life treating you? Did you land your dream job on day one and you’re now changing the world with every decision you make? Or are you with the rest of us, slumming it 8 hours a day in a café? Let us know in the comments!