We’re sorry you’re leaving us

graduationarticleGRADUATION. Sick feeling in stomach – check, job searches active – check, interview clothes – check. It’s enough to make your heart beat loud enough that you can hear it in your own ears. If you’re in your third year or about to finish your masters; graduation and dissertation will be the subject of many emails and conversations over the next coming months. Along with these comes the dreaded job search and questions from family of “What are you going to do with that degree?”, “Maybe you should have studied something practical, ey?” and the oh so familiar “Your (sister/brother/cousin/friend/dog) got on this amazing graduate scheme, have you done anything at all yet?”

Fear not, there is a snappy, win-win answer to all of these questions…F*** off. It might not be polite and you may want to make it more palatable for your Nan but it will generally work in getting people off your back. In truth no-one really knows what they want to do after uni or with their degree, there are vague ideas floating around, but very few people have structured life plans that mean they go from degree to job/millionaire in 4 years. I myself have contemplated everything from graduate schemes, gap years, teaching/working around the world to marrying a rich man or going on benefits living at home (Josie Cunningham style). It’s been a roller coaster and it’s hard to pick what you want to do with the stress of actually passing your degree looming over you.

To help I’ve answered a few common questions that third years worry about:

I got rejected from a grad scheme/job, I’ll never get a job!

Silence. Of course you’ll get a job. It might not be where you imagined yourself to be but there’s plenty out there to keep you going until you find the dream job. The average graduate will have applied for around 30 vacancies before accepting an offer so don’t stress out if one rejects you, chances are you’ll get a lot of rejections along with the job you eventually get offered. Its just one thing in life you have to deal with, so the sooner you come to terms with it the happier you’ll be and the better your applications will become. Grad schemes aren’t for everyone and if you aren’t sure do you’re research on what companies are offering vs what they require of you afterwards. For example, Aldi may offer the highest graduate starting salary for their Graduate Area Manager Program but the leg work involved wouldn’t give you much time to enjoy it. It’s all about finding what is the best option for you. I urge you to go to the Universities Careers office even if it’s to get your CV checked over. Having a meeting with one of them could open up new ideas for you based on your interests and they could also get you some work experience to see if you really want to be the lawyer you always dreamed you’d become.

I have no skills! What should I do?

*slap* Don’t be ridiculous. You didn’t get this far having no skills at all. Go to your course and modules on the uni’s website; down the bottom they list all of the skills you gain from the specific subjects and modules you take throughout University. These can all go on your CV and in job applications under transferable skills that employers all look for. As a history student not wanting to teach I was in this position too, until I found out that it’s all about how you sell yourself and how you argue that you are the best person for the job. Why do you think people from drama manage to get jobs in business sectors? Because they have transferable skills like confidence, public speaking, creativity and presentation. Like my friend once said “it’s all about what you can get away with.” On previous job applications I proved my dedication by saying that I’m dedicated to losing weight and improving my health by going to the gym regularly. Employers love this, as it shows you can think outside of the box and can argue your case no matter what experience you have. Additionally various sites such as targetjobs.com, prospects.co.uk and skillsyouneed.com are all helpful when you come to write applications including writing an effective social media profile.

But what if I don’t want to move back home?

Don’t panic, not many people want to move in with their parents again either. Not that it’s a bad thing if you do – free rent, free food, it’s like having a PA. Remember, you have the whole world to chose from. That may sound a bit broad but there is bound to be a feasible option for housing in the UK for you; whether that involves finding a house share on roommate sites or moving back in with mum and dad. Many people fear that if they go back to the parental nest they will be trapped in a never ending circle, doomed to live a small town life forever. Utilizing your parent’s and your hometown is one option rarely suggested. Chances are your parents have some sort of connection with a business owner/company/recruiter that could set you up with a pretty sweet opportunity or advice. Name dropping can be useful in getting recruiters to notice you; Cambridge and Oxford students do it all of the time so why shouldn’t we?

Can’t I just stay here?

Yes, yes you can. Some graduates love Aberystwyth so much they stay after their degree regardless of whether they are doing a masters or not. There are viable work options in the town whether you’re looking for something more long term to boost career prospects or just saving money for travelling. The rent is getting cheaper in town too so there’s even more reason to stay.

I won’t have any friends…

Yes it’s scary moving to a new place and you may have to leave friends to do what they want with their lives. But, with all the technology surrounding us no-one is really that alone. You can always catch up over Skype, arrange to meet over Facebook and make them jealous of your travels or cool office over Instagram. Remember Fresher’s week? (Of course you don’t) Well all those friends you made that you no longer speak to show that you can make friends going to a new place even if they don’t seem to be the one’s you want to keep.

bensgapyearI don’t know where to start travelling or I don’t want to go alone, but I really want to go.

The reality is that you’re gap year may not sound half as amazing as the ones in travel journals, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t try and make it happen. Even compromising and working half a year to get money can be a bit of an adventure. If you don’t know where to go buy yourself a world map and get throwing some darts at it. Leaving it up to chance can show you interesting corners of the world you’ve never considered visiting. Lonely planet also publish books about thousands of places around the world with the various cultural spots highlighted. Reading travel blogs and books can help get your feet itching when it comes to taking a gap year and can be really useful in seeing how other made it halfway around the world on a shoestring budget. Whether you just want to go to France for a year and learn the language, trek mountains around the globe, secure running water for African villages or see if you could survive down under, there are options for everyone. As for being afraid to go alone, grow a pair, you came to uni alone so you can go on a really long ‘holiday’ alone. You’ll definitely meet people on your travels and if you’re really that worried there’s always options like TrekAmerica, Real Gap, Raleigh International or G Adventures.