Graduates: Real Life Starts now! (Here’s What You Should do First)

Graduates, one more industrious than the rest. Credit: bensonk42 via Flickr.

There are certain things that your parents tell you when you’re a little kid. Brush your teeth, eat your vegetables, perform salah, read the Qu’ran. They also tell you to work hard in school, because good grades mean you can grow up to be whatever you want.

Given the precarious job market and shortage of ‘centre forward for Man Utd’ vacancies, that last one doesn’t ring as true as it did 20 years ago. Even if you took a 1st in PPE from Oxford, you’re just as likely to spend the days after graduation embellishing your CV, staring at a blank Word doc titled ‘COVER LETTER’ and crying as someone who dropped out before graduating.

OK, maybe that’s not necessarily true. But what we’re saying is, it’s tough out there fam. We’re currently in the midst of Graduation season in the UK, when thousands of bright young things exit university and dive headfirst into the real world. As Ummahsonic loves to dole out (hopefully helpful) advice to our readers, we thought we’d offer you a few tips on what to do once the mortarboard comes off and adult life begins. Starting with some reassurance…

Don’t Worry – Embrace the Freedom

This is probably the first period in your life when the majority of your time hasn’t been structured by formal education. This can be terrifying. The important thing is not to worry. Very few graduates fall feet first into a job for life and, quite frankly, why would anyone want to do that?

Cherish this lull. Spend time with your family. Go to Jummah. Help your mum around the house. Start a Twitter about the weird things your dad says. You’ll probably be working full time before you know it, so embrace the post-uni downtime.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Your Mates

Social media let’s us see what all of our friends are doing at any given time. This is not good when you’ve just graduated, because even if someone lives on the other side of the country, you’ll know the exact moment that they’re accepted on to that prestigious grad scheme (the one your mum thought you should try).

Face it: there’s always going to be someone with a job lined up at their uncle’s cousin’s office; there’s always going to be people volunteering with orphans in South America; there’s always going to be someone studying medicine. Ignore these people. Concentrate on your own hustle and don’t watch the competition – because they’re not actually competition.

Remember, You’re Still Young

When you were about 12, being 21 seemed like full-blown adulthood. You probably envisioned holiday homes and swollen savings accounts, not crippling debt and career anxiety. Well, the latter is probably the reality for a lot of the graduates reading, but do not fear.

Your early twenties are the time to try different jobs, to discover your passions, to make a few mistakes. Don’t be so desperate for a ‘real job’ that you take the first graduate position that comes your way. It’s probably poorly paid and not what you want to do, so better to accumulate a bit of dollar through part-time gigs and find a future you’re more suited to. On that note…

Boost Your CV

What is on your CV? If it’s your degree and the two weeks of work experience you did in year 10, then you should probably pad it out a bit. Think about what you did at uni – were you a member of any societies or teams? Did you organise any events or volunteer for any causes? Do you have a blog? Or a vlog?

Basically, anything that suggests you connect with people and aren’t totally incompetent/unbearable to be around should get a mention on your CV. Keep it straightforward tone-wise and one-side of A4 lengthwise, and try to stand out in a way that suggests you didn’t just google ‘how 2 make ur CV stand out??’

Search for Jobs

Although we’ve kinda pushed a ‘stay indoors and play FIFA all summer’ angle thus far, we must stress that it is actually important to look for work after you graduate. Even if stacking shelves doesn’t seem like it will prepare you for your future career in, we dunno, financial compliance, almost every job you ever have will provide you with the greatest skill of all: People skills.

Over the course of your life, you’ll work with some geniuses and some idiots. You’ll work with colleagues who’ll respect your opinion and people who’ll ask you if Pret is halal. The important thing is that you do the job to the best of your ability for you, not your boss. This means you’re far more likely to be good at it.

When you work hard at rubbish jobs with questionable colleagues, your rubbish job turns into an exciting graduate role far sooner than you expect.

Exhausting Contacts + Emails and Phone Calls

When looking for jobs try to use every possible advantage you can eek out from friends, family, associates, lecturers, people in the car park after mosque. By this we mean contacts. If your dad’s old friend knows a guy who knows a partner at the company you’d just so happen to loooove to intern at, then use all your brilliance to wrangle a meeting. It may sound a bit sneaky, but literally everyone does it. (Maybe even ask the Imam for some prayers that could help you on your search. If there’s ever a point in your life where guidance is needed, it’s now.)

Also, when you email people, follow it up with another email. HR departments spend all day ignoring emails from eager grads because they’re not a priority, but if you keep chasing you may catch them when they’re feeling generous. Phone calls are even better, because it shows initiative and you’ll get an answer faster.

Don’t Worry (Again)

Stay positive. It’s normal to have no idea what you’re gonna do after uni. A lot of graduates don’t. But trust us, something good will happen.

Lastly, look at it this way: if you’re graduating in 2017, reading this, and you’ve still never had a single job by the time 2027 rolls around, we’ll buy you a coke.

Otherwise, we bid you many blessings as you ride on the journey to more success.

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