Tips For New Graduates

It seems that we've got to that time of the year where most universities are having their graduation ceremonies. It's that time where graduates don a Harry Potter style cloak, and practise smiles as those graduation photos will be on parents mantelpiece's for everyone to see for many years. I actually read the other day, that a photo company are editing graduation photos by whitening teeth and airbrushing them so they're perfect! How shocking eh! Anyways, I graduated almost two years ago and going from a student to a graduate was quite a strange transition for me. First of all my student discount stopped (rude) and second of all, I just wasn't quite prepared for my life post university. I hadn't quite anticipated that I'd have to stop having afternoon naps. No one really tells you, well I didn't get told just what being a graduate is actually like, maybe I'm a bit naive, but I thought I'd come out of university, waving my 2:1 degree in my hand going 'coooeeee hire me!' I'd get a dream job and before you knew it, I'd have a grown up briefcase and I'd be like Carrie Bradshaw. If only.

Me at graduation...

First of all let's start with Graduation, I may of missed the boat, but if you haven't graduated yet and well I graduated in November then here's some tips for the day;

  • Plan your day accordingly, give yourself plenty of time for getting your gown, having pictures etc. 
  • Take with you; a safety pin to attach your gown to your dress (sshh you don't need to wear a shirt with a button!) Hair grips to keep your hat in place so you don't have to worry about it flying off. 
  • Wear your hair down, as there's no point wearing a pretty up do for it to be covered by your hat
  • Wear natural make up that won't date, a subtle smokey eye and nude lips is what I went for 
  • Also remember try to use SPF free/low SPF foundation for no flashback, I know it's not wise in this hot weather, so in this case try to avoid flashes by having photos taken in natural light outside 
  • If you're worried about falling over on stage, pack some flats with you to wear, it'll take the stress of worrying about tripping up 
  • Have a wee before the ceremony (they're long) 
  • Enjoy every second! You'll never feel more like a Harry Potter class member so enjoy the day! :) 

With my tips for the actual graduation day out of the way, let's talk about what happens after the ceremony. As soon as you graduate it seems that an insane amount of pressure is put on you to get a job. Some people are lucky and know exactly what they want to do and some even have jobs already lined up for them. I didn't to both of these things, I didn't know what I wanted to do and I didn't have anything lined up.  I wasn't really sure what to do, luckily I had some of my student loan still saved up so I was able to live off that for a good month to give myself some time to think about things. 

I studied at Southampton Solent University on a course called Media Communications, after discovering a love for Media Studies at college, I decided that media was a route I wanted to go down. I've always been interested in media, and it seemed a natural course for me to take. My university course was totally different to my college one. If you study media, you'll know how people say 'Oh isn't that a degree on watching films?' Erm no. I think we watched one film in the whole three years. My course wasn't what I expected but in a good way it covered all aspects of the media; PR, Marketing, Media Comms, Journalism, it covered everything and I was drawn into Digital PR/Social Media. Doing different modules meant I could work out what I liked, and what I didn't. I discovered I wasn't that keen on Marketing, but found a new interest in PR.  Although I started my blog a few weeks before uni, I was learning new things from my course which helped with my blog. I learnt new skills such as editing, how to communicate with PR's and of course just how to write better which all helped massively. Thanks to my diverse course, I knew I wanted to head down the social media route. I just wasn't quite sure how to get on the right path. 

The one thing I did realise, is that in this kind of field, you need experience. If you ever have the chance to carry out an internship or do work experience, do it. I wish I'd looked more into this when I was at uni and when I could of afforded to work free for a couple of weeks. Living away from home as a new graduate with my loan dwindling away but still having rent to pay meant that working free wasn't an option for me. I found myself getting turned down for jobs as having a degree just wasn't enough. That's when I found graduate job websites which advertised jobs looking for new graduates who maybe don't have an awful lot of experience; I used Graduate Jobs South which was super handy, but also check your local university's website as they might advertise local graduate jobs. 

I would also check out local social media agencies and send them an email, explaining how I was a new graduate and my passions in the hope they may consider me if they ever get a graduate role. I actually emailed the agency I work with now, funnily enough. After a good few weeks, I was starting to lose hope, I just didn't know what to do. I knew I had to get some money somehow so I decided to just get a job. I ended up working in retail for 18 months, people would say to me, 'so you went to uni, and you work in a shop?' As if it was a bad thing, not that at least I was working and earning money. 

I feel that there is incredible pressure is put on new graduates to start their career. You're told you should be in the same field as your degree and you should be earning at least 20k a year, if not you're a failure. Honestly this is all rubbish. Don't feel pressured, you've just worked your bum off for three years, have a breather. Go travelling (it looks great on your CV FYI) take some time off (heck I wish I'd taken another month off) or just go get a job, it doesn't matter what it is. Although I knew working in retail wasn't for me, you know it's not for you when you fantasise about hitting a rude customer with a clothes hanger. It was a stop gap, I earned money, I made good friends and I grew up. I also realised exactly what I did want to do, social media was still the passion I had, and I wanted to do something with blogging/bloggers. 

The job hunt was stressful, but sites such as Indeed and Reed, helped me find local jobs. I uploaded my CV online to job sites such as Monster, and I'd search social media jobs on twitter to see if anything came up. I joined LinkedIn, something we were told at uni was super important to do, and I listed basically everything I've ever done. Get on there and connect with influential people, bring yourself to their attention.  I ended up coming to an interview for my current job, in fact it wasn't the job I had applied for but my passion for social media and blogging I think meant they still wanted to see me.  From studying my degree and then having a break for a year and six months, I knew what I wanted to do, I'd done my research, and I took everything I learnt from my university course, knowing now was the right time to start my career.

Six months later, I now have a job in a field I wanted to be in, it's a graduate role essentially but I'm learning all the time and I'm hoping one day I can progress. I'm even learning now what I want to do even further in social media, I've learnt social media strategy is not for me, but community management? That's something I'm definitely interested in. This has been a long winded blog post and I'm sorry for that, but if you're a new graduate, try to not stress too much. I promise that you will find that job that you are looking for, I found mine 18 months after university. Don't be afraid to do something new, give yourself time and try to get as much experience as you can. Perhaps talk to your university tutors? Mine were all super helpful and one of mine even gave me a list of agencies to research. I promise if you don't get that dream job straight away, you're not a failure. You're a superhero, you got that degree and that's something no one can ever take away from you. 

Good luck in being a new graduate, it's a scary but exciting world out there. But one thing you'll never get used to? Leaving behind student discount :'( 

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