I’ve Got Graduation on my Mind

Final year has descended upon us in a cloudy haze of ‘what do I do now’s and ‘where do I go next’s. The problem is- there’s no direct answer to that. There are so many different options to take and avenues to pursue after graduation that the course lays wide open for us, which can seem so daunting that we might not choose to go down any at all. But although it can seem scary, it’s also a really good thing that there are so many things to do, giving us the freedom to forge our own paths.

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Looking after you

University is an experience containing so many different elements and comes with a vast range of expectations. We hear a lot of great things about all the opportunities it has to offer us if we just grab them, and so there is often this pressure to love it, to thrive in it, as you seem to see everyone around you doing. And so if you’re not getting quite the same satisfaction out of it, if you’re not having quite the same stress-free time that it seems like everyone else is having, then you assume that university isn’t the problem, you are.

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Did somebody say… careers fairs?

Over the years, we’ve attended countless careers fairs, stuffed our pockets with pens galore and collected a chaos of leaflets that littered our desks for a while before being promptly thrown away. Some of you may have even found them useful, but for a lot of us, they were just a thing that we had to do as our various teachers paraded us round for a whole five minutes before returning to class.

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Wait…what?

It’s third year- your final year- and you think you’ve finally got the hang of this whole uni thing. You know what time you have to be at the library if you actually want a decent seat (like, 2am), you know which lectures are safe to miss (according to some of my friends, all of them), and you know the ins and outs of most of the buildings (apart from Alfred Denny, because you still can’t work out how to actually leave when the lecturer tells you to all leave from the back). You’re feeling pretty cool and confident about the whole thing.

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Eat, sleep, revise, repeat

There are certain words and phrases that, as university students, are designed to make our skin crawl:

  • 9am lecture (even though we know that there’s a higher chance of finding a vacant booth in the Diamond than us actually going)
  • Assessed group project (because it’s that much harder, though not impossible, to complete this from the comfort of your own bed)
  • Exam period

And as we enter this dreaded time of prolific procrastination, and if we’re lucky, actual, real, honest-to-god revision, we wave a sad goodbye to every other part of our lives that doesn’t actively correlate with us passing our degrees.

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A healthy balance

For most of us like minded individuals, we recognise university as the epitome of our young adult existence – the time when we explore our independence without the constraints of true, haunting adulthood that we all know will soon descend upon us. But whilst we enjoy all the fun that a university degree enables us to engage in, if we’re clever, we also recognise the very real opportunities it presents us with in terms of helping us towards achieving the very best of our aspirations and dream career goals.

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“I volunteer as tribute!”

Things I considered as important when I decided to go to university:

  • Getting a first class degree (we can all dream, right?)
  • Joining a society
  • Getting work experience/internships to bulk up my CV

Things I did not consider:

  • Volunteering

And why – I hear your enthusiastic cry – simply because it had never crossed my mind, at least not in an important way. There was a brief time at college where I considered volunteering at a local charity shop in order to increase my chance at getting into university, but it was only a fleeting thought, floating away as quickly as my chances at getting anything above a B in A-Level maths. But then I attended a ‘Put Your Degree to Work’ event for arts and humanities students in my first year and the thought circulated back once more. The idea came from past alumni who said that, after panicking in their second year that they didn’t know what to do after university, they signed up for some volunteering simply to add something to their CV. What they didn’t anticipate was falling in love with it and pursuing a career in the third sector after graduation. Continue reading