We all know them. The things you are told or tell yourself during those final years of college. The things your relatives tell you at family gatherings whilst their dentures protrude from their lips, “once you graduate, you’ll get yourself a good job” or “you can’t work in retail your whole life”.
Or perhaps, they are things that you’ve been telling yourself since arriving at college. Your parents alluding to, often subconsciously, that once you graduate, you have to find a good job that will get you through all the way to your dying days.
I did catch a tweet the other day that kind of summed it up (even though it’s supposed to be in jest).
Let me just say before I continue, there is nothing wrong with this. This is a path I know a lot of people have taken, and well done to them, but it isn’t the sole route to success or happiness. You don’t need to dive right into something because you feel as though you have to or you don’t have another choice. It’s just one of the many graduate life myths that, I promise you, are false.
MYTH #1: “I’ll be so unemployed after my degree – no one likes a CV with gaps”
Yeah, unless you begin applying for jobs during your finals, or have a part time job in the small café down the road, it’s very likely you’ll be unemployed. And that is okay. It’s more than okay. Your time after college should be the time to figure out what to do next, not rushing into a job you think you should have.
Remember, you’ve just come out of four, five, maybe six years of full time university education, three or four months off to recoup and refocus is not going to screw up your employability.
If you feel however, that you need to be doing something to fill your CV or just to further your education, look up volunteering opportunities, online courses in the field of work you want to go into, delve a bit deeper into your hobbies or join a club. Write if that’s what you feel, get up to date on current events, learn everything there is to know about a company you eventually want to work for, or research the logistics of emigrating.
There are so many things you can do to plan for what you want that don’t mean diving straight into the deep end.
Side note: I know a lot of people who didn’t begin full time jobs until they were out of college a good year or so. And now, they are quite successful young women. Don’t rush.
MYTH #2: “I need that internship/job/volunteer opportunity”
No, no you don’t. You absolutely do not. There is no “correct” path to get anywhere in life, simply suggested routes and this happens to be the most popular of them. For every five people that get their dream internship, there are hundreds that don’t.
And if the industry you want to work in was only populated with those who bagged those successful internships, then there wouldn’t be a whole lot of people working in it. Internships come and go but that specific one isn’t going to land you the dream job. A lot of hard work will.
Who knows, maybe not getting it will you give you that drive to pursue better things?
MYTH #3: “I’m scared my bad grades mean I won’t get a good job”
Such a common and understandable fear. There’s nothing like the sinking feeling you get when you see your dream job description and then an “applicants must have a 2:1 or higher to apply”. It hurts but there’s logic behind why some employers ask for this information.
Firstly, it’s code for “applicants must have attended university and graduated”. They could have stated they wanted applicants who had attended college but they are more so looking for those who completed it. The requirement for a 2:1 or higher is an indication that they want someone who is dedicated to hard work, who can follow things through, and can manage their time.
Anything lower than a 2:1 is not a bad grade but the employer has no idea why, nor are they entitled to know, why you didn’t get anything higher. For all they know, you could have been the most hardworking student in your class but a slip up in your final year, an illness, a family event, could have interfered. Or maybe the exams just didn’t go your way.
My advice is if you missed out on that 2:1 by a mere percent or two, apply anyway. Show them where you did get 2:1s, your grades in modules relevant to the work on offer, and prove to them that you are just as hard working as someone who got 3% or more above you. Because you can.
However, some employers do only want people with a 2:1 or higher, thinking they’re getting the best of the best but really, they’re just cutting themselves off from some top talent.
MYTH #4: “I’ll stay in touch with all my friends”
It’s not true. You won’t. It’s almost impossible. Unless you plan to have your phone in your hand 25/8, you can’t keep up with everyone. Here’s where the people you really have a connection with come in. Life after college is a great way to strengthen relationships with people you want to have them with, and breaking loose of those you don’t. You’re essentially get to choose who you want to keep in contact with from the wide pool you made during your three or four years. It’s a blessing in disguise.
MYTH #5: “College is the best time of your life and I need to experience everything now”
Life is the best time of your life. Yeah, you may be surrounded by opportunities and wonderful experiences when in college but they don’t mysteriously disappear once you graduate. You need to make them happen. Life post-college is the time where you work on the skills, connections, and life lessons to create even better opportunities and experiences for yourself. Think about it, you are essentially free of any ties, you have all the time in the world to experience everything.
MYTH #6: “My mental health will be fine once I graduate”
If your mental health was triggered based on the life changing move that is going to college, it will most likely be triggered once you graduate too. Like with any major change in life, it will have a major effect on how you perceive yourself, people, your world and your opportunities. You won’t be ‘magically cured’ once you finish all your essays and studying. And remember that if you use college support services, they will be cut off once you graduate.
Again, not getting a job immediately after leaving university can be a small victory in this sense. If you feel your mental health could flare up, it’s good to give yourself time off to get it sorted and refocus on what you want to do. That way, you can dive head into what you want feeling content in body and mind.
A special thanks to the star that is Lili Nolan for helping me compile these fears and thoughts.