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How to Prepare for Life After University

Leaving university can be an unsettling time for many students. You’ve had the stability of classes, your flatmates, and even your assignments and deadlines can give you a sense of security as at least you understand what’s expected of you and by when. It can be tough going into ‘adult life’ as a graduate as you’re not sure what to expect.

So, here are our top 7 tips on how to prepare for life after university, so you can feel positive and look forward to your next step and what your life holds going forward.

How to prepare for life after University

Avoid comparing yourself to your classmates

Yes, this is much easier said than done. But when it comes to your first move following university when there is a lot of pressure to find your first ‘proper’ job that will set your career off, do not look at what your fellow classmates are doing. They may have landed a top job, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t get to where you want to as well. 

Take the pressure off your first role and find something that really appeals to you. The experience you gain in every role is much more important than the reputation of the organisation, brand or individual you end up working for.

And, don’t forget that it may take you a few weeks or even months to land your first role after graduating. Don’t let this dampen your spirits. Markets can be competitive so expect to go for a few interviews before you’re successful. Try to embrace this as a valuable interview experience and find some great connections for the future. 

Network to make valuable connections

Over the course of your 1-4+ year degree or qualification, you will have been mixing with potentially hundreds of useful people. By useful, we mean that knowing them could come in handy for you at some point in the future when it comes to finding roles for yourself or your own connections.

So before you graduate, put some effort into getting to know all the other students in your cohort. You will thank yourself later down the line. Go to events and talks that are run by your university, careers service or other bodies and make sure to introduce yourself to any guest speakers or important individuals that go to those events. Don’t forget to keep people’s contact information and follow up with a message to anyone you’ve made a positive relationship with.

Platforms like LinkedIn or Notion are perfect for collecting all the useful people you meet along the way. Did you know that it’s still the case that most positions are filled by someone the employer already knows of? This is why networking is so important.

Keep your CV up to date

Coming up to graduating, take some time every now and again to update your CV as you go. Doing this means that if you are applying for roles throughout the year, you can do so as and when you find the ones that are right for you – rather than leaving it to when you have lots to add and format, and not enough time to do it before the applications closes. 

While you’re still at uni, consider taking your CV to your careers service and ask if there’s anyone who could review it for you. They might not have the specific knowledge relevant to your field, but they will be able to tell you what is compelling and what isn’t, as well as help with formatting, layout, grammar, length etc. 

Look after your health

Your final year of university can be especially stressful with a lot on your plate. It’s important to stay healthy during this time so that your mind and body are in as good shape as they can be to tackle long days or nights as well as stress management. Do this by keeping a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and avoiding too much alcohol. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. And, keeping your caffeine intake as low as possible is also a good idea for your sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep will go a long way when it comes to your final exams and deadlines. You’ll know by now that it’s tempting to stay up all night cramming or working, but being well-rested is shown to be the best thing for you and your productivity.

This is the final push before you graduate and begin your life after uni, but your health and wellbeing are still the most important thing.

Use the support your university is offering

Coming up to graduating, take some time every now and again to update your CV as you go. Doing this means that if you are applying for roles throughout the year, you can do so as and when you find the ones that are right for you – rather than leaving it to when you have lots to add and format, and not enough time to do it before the applications closes. 

While you’re still at uni, consider taking your CV to your careers service and ask if there’s anyone who could review it for you. They might not have the specific knowledge relevant to your field, but they will be able to tell you what is compelling and what isn’t, as well as help with formatting, layout, grammar, length etc. 

Use your free time to get some work experience

If you’re finishing your course and you haven’t secured a job, another tip on how to prepare for life after university is to try to use your time wisely by gaining some work experience over the summer. You could try to find an internship through your university or careers sites online. Getting any kind of experience will always be a welcome addition to your CV alongside the course you’ve just worked hard for. As well as that, it’ll help develop your skills and help build your confidence, which can only be a good thing during what might be quite an uncertain time. Even if you’re just lending a hand around an office with some admin work or making copies, it’s still a great way to make some new connections that might even land you an employed position later down the line.

As well as work experience related to your field, there’s nothing to stop you from volunteering for a cause that’s close to you. If there’s something you’re passionate about and you have some spare time, you could start something up yourself. Again, it’s something additional to have on your CV alongside your studies and will be a great talking point in any interviews.

You could also use some of your newfound free time to complete any additional qualifications you’ve been thinking about. Maybe there’s a course that you can do online that’s an extension of what you’ve learned on your degree. Or, maybe you’ve always wanted to learn first aid or a new language.

Finally, enjoy some time off

That being said, do spend some time just enjoying any time off you have after university once you’ve finished. Just remember that you’ll be working for most of your adult life, so this is a precious time of freedom that you should make the most of too. 

Speak to your friends and family about your plans (even if you don’t have any yet). Talking about what you might like to do is a good place to start. Not only is your final year of university the hardest and most heavily weighted year, but also, you might be feeling burdened with the stress of making heavy decisions. So whether you’re planning on more education, a job, travelling or something else, just have faith in yourself and enjoy your last few months of university life and some of the summer months that follow. 

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