Last year I graduated with a degree in Accounting and Finance, a year later I’m working full time and I’m here to give you tips on life after graduation and share my experience.
Graduation is an anti-climax, you spend years trying to get your degree, then you prep for graduation, do your hair, makeup, you walk across the stage, get handed your degree and then just like that it was over. The day after my graduation, was the weirdest morning, the sky was grey, it was cold and my graduation was everything but that. I felt so ill and panicked that morning that I went for a walk in the park and not to over exaggerate, but it dawned on me that this is it. I’m done with Uni, I’m an adult, I have a degree, I don’t have a job and I now have to carve the life I want to create for myself. No one can tell me what to do with my life and no one can do it for me. Then I was faced with confusion, how am I going to carve the life I want? What life do I even want? How am I going to achieve the things I want to do? Where will I find the time? I didn’t have the answer to most of the questions at the time, but I came to the conclusion that the only way I can make any of this happen is to live for myself because at least then if I don’t get what I want at least I can say I did the things that made me happy.
– Me at my graduation 🎓
Common things people say about university:
“Uni will be the best time of your life”
“You’ll make lifelong friends”
“You only need 40% for your first year”
“Living on campus is the best”
“You’ll meet the love of your life”
What happens when it’s all over and you graduate?
Do you go back to your student accommodation and cry?… No.
You join the world of adulting.
The world of adulting is challenging, to say the least.
Adulting is challenging because it is nothing you have ever experienced before. For the first time in your life you are completely done with education, unless you decide to further your education. Terminado, terminé, finito, done. No lectures, no assignments, no emailing lectures at 11:59 because Turnitin wants you to fail and most importantly no group work.
So, what do you do after you graduate? Most people have three options, travel around the world because they were smart enough to save their student loan, do a masters or find a job.
If you’re like me, you chose to find a job, congrats!
For more on finding a job after graduation, click here.
YOU CAN’T MISS WORK JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE TIRED AND YOU FEEL TIRED ALL OF THE TIME.
There’s been so many days where I’ve woken up at 6:30am and wanted to stay in bed all day but couldn’t. Not being able to miss work like you missed lectures is a shock to the system, but you’ll get over it… Eventually.
Workdays are harder than Uni day because there’s much more to do in 8 hours of work than 8 hours of lectures. It’s jam packed with tasks and responsibilities which are constantly changing, so don’t be shocked that you feel tired all the time. I thought I was tired at Uni but this is much worse because work is very challenging and exhausting.
Just to make sure it wasn’t just me that felt tired sometimes, I asked my three group chats if they felt tired most of the time, everyone said yes… So be prepared. Full time work is draining, taking the tube is draining, meeting up with friends is draining so don’t be surprised when you decide a quiet night in with a movie and some pizza is more attractive than clubbing. Although some of us have felt like that since 1st year but I digress.
Finding a work-life balance has been quite hard for me to be honest because there’s so many things I want to do. Life before graduation was so simple, I would go to Uni, relax, then revise or chill with my housemates, now I want to perform well at work, socialize with my friends, spend some time with family, have some time to myself, work on apieceofsarah.com and keep fit/ healthy but there are only 24 hours in a day.
My ways of trying to balance life and deal with stress are:
- Keeping my weekends free so I can stay in bed, blog, chill with the family and opt to meet up with my friends after work. I love doing nothing on a Saturday because having my ‘me’ time is very important to me, but it’s harder said than done because my friends and I have conflicting schedules.
- I love face masks, they’re so simple to apply, but make me feel relaxed. Having clean pores and no spots makes me feel good about myself and less stressed about all the other things going on in my life.
- I like turning off my phone, I don’t believe we should be available 24/7, so I sometimes turn off my phone on Friday/Saturday night and some evenings.
- I love listening to classical music, and taking long walks when things are in my mind
- I constantly try to remind myself that nothing is the end of the world, everything is a learning curve and if you die at work, you’ll still be replaced because in the corporate world, no one is indispensable.
Full time work is long hours and can be very stressful depending on what industry and company you’re in, so it’s important to find that balance.
PAYDAY IS THE BEST DAY
One of the main perks of life after graduating is getting PAID! Instead of depending on student finance every three months you get paid monthly which helps make budgeting your finances much easier. Payday is beautiful, the sun shines, your bank account is healthy and you don’t have to worry about the state of your finances until your standing orders and direct debits come out the next day. You’re first pay day is usually the most money you receive before HMRC start taxing you, use it wisely, save a lot of it and pay off your student overdraft if possible.
DON’T MOVE OUT YET
If you live at home with your parents, you can save up for a house. Utilize this time at home to save, renting and paying for your own food isn’t cheap. I know it’s tempting to want to move out as soon as you graduate because you’re so used to having your own space, but don’t rush it, there are so many bills that come with moving out that you don’t want to make the mistake of paying prematurely e.g. council tax, etc.
LEARN HOW TO BUDGET
Life after Uni is expensive, going to work is expensive, direct debits are expensive. Not having student discount is expensive, yes, say bye to unidays and NUS extra. Gym membership, phone bills, weekly travel cards, Netflix, Apple music, Spotify, paying for your prescription, work drinks, dinners and cocktails at rooftop bars with friends are all expensive and all these expenses add up so be wise and budget.
Let’s not forget the most extortionate expense of all, food. Buying food is extortionate, if you buy breakfast, lunch and a coffee at work you’ll be spending £12 daily, that’s £60 a week just to eat at work, so bring in your own food. I buy my own cereal, which is usually £2 and store it in my locker at work, work provides milk and the cereal lasts two weeks depending on which one I buy, so that’s breakfast for two weeks at £2 compared to buying a ham and cheese toastie from Pret a Manger for £3.99 daily, £2 for two weeks compared to £39.90. A saving of just under £20 every week from bringing in cereal. I’m not a big coffee drinker so I have Nescafé Gold cappuccino sachets in my locker, the packet is £2 for 10, a small cappuccino at Starbucks is £2.25, each. A week of Starbucks is £11.25 versus a week of Nescafé is £1 (if I drink 1 cup a day). Be smart, bring in your own food and drink.
No one can prepare you for this, so I’m telling you now, budget and save where you can. You can budget by establishing your total income for the month, all vital expenses (rent, food, travel cards) then calculate how much you can save then live off what you have.
TIP FOR SAVING
It’s always nice to know that you have money in the bank if everything goes wrong. My best money saving tip is to open a bank account that does not have a debit card access and transfer money to that account every payday. That way you know you won’t be tempted to move money out of it.
I know many people use spending money as a way to make themselves happier, me included #ILOVEONLINESHOPPING, but not having savings to fall back on for a rainy day is setting yourself up for failure. So please budget how much you want to spend weekly and stick to it. It’s ok to decline work drinks if you’re trying to save, your colleagues will go out the week after.
MEETING UP WITH FRIENDS IS HARDER THAN EVER
Your friends don’t live across the hall from you, they now live halfway across London, England or even the world. So now you must plan well in advance when to meet up, but everyone is extremely busy, juggling work, creative projects, exams and family, so you must find a way to squeeze each other in. Don’t be shocked if it becomes a recurring cycle of when are we going to meet up and both of you realize you’re not free when you thought you were and the cycle continues. I use my phone calendar to keep track when I’m meeting with friends.
Even if you don’t end up meeting up when you plan to, make the effort to keep in contact with your friends or you will be alone as everyone is busying making sense of their own life. People only have time for those who make the effort.
“WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO NEXT?” BECOMES A WORSE QUESTION THAN “HOW IS UNI?”
You would think after completing your degree, all the questions would stop, but they don’t. People always want to know what you’re going to do next or they’ll tell you what to do next. “Do you have a job yet?” *five seconds later* “Have you got a job now?” and my personal favourite, “You should do a masters”.
Do what’s right for you and keep it moving because everyone may feel like they deserve an input in your life, but only you will live with the decisions you make.
YOU MAY QUESTION IF THIS WILL BE YOUR LIFE FOREVER
It’s ok, a lot of people do, more than they liked to admit. I did this 3 weeks into my placement year because I was SO over it. I didn’t like working full time and didn’t expect it to be so hard or have so much responsibility placed on me, but my placement year prepared me for full time work now and showed me what I did and didn’t want from a job and I’m grateful. My placement was very different from others, I worked two hours away from home and had to get up at 5am to get work at 8am every day. Never again, you couldn’t pay me enough to do that.
You may question if you’re doing this right and if you’re doing enough, I know I do. I don’t think I’m doing enough, however, I do think I’m doing some things right because I tick off stuff on my to-do lists.
This will be your life forever unless you, find a career you love* (then you would actually enjoy what you’re doing), marry into wealth, become a housewife/househusband, win the lottery or find a way to make your creative passion pay for your lifestyle. If you know you already hate your grad job or the industry you work in you can either find a new job or stay until the scheme ends and then find another job but this depends on if they provide study support. For me, I’m ok with working full time, I like getting paid, I like my company, it’s almost the perfect distance from my house, I just hate how tired working makes me feel a times.
*It may be the company you work at, not the career itself.
WHAT WOULD I HAVE CHANGED?
I wish I waited a few months before applying for jobs, saved more money and travelled. Those are my regrets because now when I want to travel, I use up my annual leave which makes me sad. If you have enough money to travel before you start working, then do it. Travelling is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. If you want job security after you return from your travels, apply for jobs that have a start date of September or later in the following year, then you can attend interviews before you travel and then enjoy yourself.
Additionally, don’t be scared to apply for some roles because you feel they might not accept you. If you don’t try, you won’t know whether there was an opportunity waiting for you there.
So, there you have it. Time flies when you’re working full time, the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months. As you can see 2018 is almost over, that’s what working full time is, you blink and suddenly it’s Monday again, this happens all year.
To combat this, I plan ahead so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my life away, I try to budget so I don’t spend my money on frivolous things and take some ‘me time’ so I don’t burn out. Life after Graduation is challenging and really hard, but you get paid and you develop as a person. Not everything is lost after you finish Uni, especially if you manage to get the job you like.