My First September as a Graduate
As we delve into Freshers week once again, welcoming bright and shiny new faces to our campus, we are mindful of those graduated only a few months ago, and how they might be feeling as they see friends, family, and students from all around the world start or return to uni for the adventure of a lifetime.
As an alumni of Queen’s myself, I remember how I felt the first September after I had graduated. I remember the envy as I watched my friends in the year below gather for drinks in their new flats before jumping in a Value Cab and heading into town on a Tuesday night. Meanwhile, I was tucked up in bed at 10pm with the feeling that this was the beginning of the rest of my life, but not in a good way.
What many forget to realise is that the first September post-graduation can be daunting. You’ve drank the last of the summer wine, you’ve said goodbye to your friends leaving for a new term, and you’ve ended up a position where you didn’t know what the next year would hold for the first time in your life. You went from pre-school to school, school to secondary school, and secondary school to uni, each September bringing a year ahead of relative knowledge of where you would be and what you would be doing for the next year. And then you graduate. Talk about anti-climax! What now? The excitement of ‘no more studying’ life quickly wears off when the panic sets in; I’m on my own now with money to pay back, no job, and no idea what I’m going to do about it.
This may be easier said than done, but we’re here to tell you, don’t panic. While it may not seem like it now, you have so much time! “But sure, Susie from French has a grad job already, she’s getting 18k and has a boyfriend and has her life SORTED.” And this is the problem! A wise man once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Rule no.1, don’t panic about what everyone else is doing. This time next year, Susie could be the jobless one and you’ll be high-flying doing a job you really love and working up that career ladder, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. Your twenties is an odd time of your life where everyone around you will be at totally different stages; the most important thing is that you do what’s right for you, not what you think must be right because everyone else seems to be doing it.
So let us tell you this; we are all working through an extremely challenging time in the world right now. People’s plans have gone completely skew-whiff, global markets are up the left, and across the world, thousands of people’s mental health has really taken a hit due to the uncertainty of it all. So you’ve just graduated and you don’t know what’s next. I have good news, neither does anybody else! What can you do about it? Chill. Okay so you don’t have the perfect job lined up yet- fine. Most people take years to find their dream job. You don’t even know what the perfect job looks like yet? Also fine! Take some time doing a range of jobs to get you by, explore a range of options online, think about what you enjoy, about who you look up to, about what your skillset might lend itself to, you might just find inspiration in the strangest of places. Just don’t rush.
Now remember those bushy-tailed freshers we were talking about earlier? Look at them and reflect on your time at uni. Be happy for them that they’re about to embark on some really transformative years of their lives. Use their experiences to take a trip down memory lane and change your envious feelings into ones of nostalgia. Remember how excited you were to never have to look at a piece of coursework ever again? Think about that! Think of the opportunities ahead of you and the potential for loads of fun in the next 5 years. Don’t think about the scary, think about the exciting. Look at the world with new eyes and think how you’d like to play your part in it. Now are you so jealous of them standing in a 30 minute queue outside Filthy’s?