The reality of life after university

As summer graduations are on the horizon, the realisation of unemployment grows bigger and bigger. Students, like myself, finish university with optimistic views of walking straight into a job, but the reality of it is that it’s unlikely you will.

In previous months, whilst still having the security of being a student, I wrote a blog on post-graduate depression where I spoke to people about their experiences and to academics about what they knew on the topic. I was writing it in third person, expressing other people’s feelings whilst suppressing my own, since I was yet to feel the pressure and anxiety of life after university. I created a survey for the article asking people how they felt after university, and 36% of the 53 respondents said ‘trying to find a job‘ was the main cause of them feeling low, which now I can completely relate to.

Before university, life comes to us pretty easy in most aspects. You’re always going to get into high school – since it’s a legal requirement – and there’s a very strong chance you’ll get into sixth form or college after school, as long as you haven’t completely flunked your GCSEs. In terms of getting into university, unless your applying for Oxford or Cambridge, or applying for a medicine degree, there’s, again, a strong chance you’ll get into university. I don’t believe I know anyone who wanted to go to university who couldn’t – especially through things like clearing allowing even more people to go.

“Failure isn’t a bad thing; it’s a chance to look at yourself, and what went wrong. And there’s no one you can blame. You can fail at something over and over again, in a different way, and that’s acceptable – but only if you’re learning from it.” – Venus Williams

For me, I got an unconditional degree from the University of Salford which took a lot of weight off my shoulders when it came to finishing my A-Levels – this meant no matter what grades I got, I’d successfully achieved my spot at uni. Great. Then, for my A-level grades, I achieved a £3000 scholarship from Salford university for my grades. Even better. So, it’s safe to say up until then, I, like many others I’m sure, had it pretty easy in getting to where I wanted to be.

Three years on, I’ve bagged First Class Honours in Multimedia Journalism and applied for over 60 jobs. I’ve had interviews for two of the biggest journalism platforms in the U.K following my applications, but failed at the final hurdle. It’s safe to say, only two months on from finishing uni, the reality of it is really starting to set in.

Unfortunately, as humans, we always want immediate gratification. We want to lose 10 pounds in a week, we want our Amazon parcel delivered now, not in 3-5 working days, and we want to graduate from university walking straight into a job; but the reality of it is, these things don’t happen overnight (unless it’s next day delivery).

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Image source: pixabay.com

Without sounding like a total pessimist, final year students are often over-optimistic with their hopes of walking into a job. In 2015, according to the official graduate labour market statistics, 31% of all graduates were not doing a graduate/high-skilled job and in 2016, 1.75 million undergraduates finished their degree in the U.K – 3.1% of whom went on to be unemployed for a period of time, according to the Financial Times​. 3.1% would have been 54,250 graduates without a job.

Being overly optimistic, or arguably unrealistic, causes a bigger blow when not getting a job straight away. For many graduates, this will be their first real feeling of repeated rejection, which can be really hard. Whilst you may know of others who have been lucky at going straight into a career (compared to low skilled work to bridge the gap after uni), you’ll probably find more people haven’t then have – so don’t feel too disheartened. 11 times Wimbledon winner Venus Williams says: “Failure isn’t a bad thing; it’s a chance to look at yourself, and what went wrong. And there’s no one you can blame. You can fail at something over and over again, in a different way, and that’s acceptable – but only if you’re learning from it.”

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