There comes a time when all good things must come to an end, and that includes university. Whilst some may continue their higher education by embarking on a postgraduate course, for the majority of final year students they’ll be about to hand in their final dissertations and enter the big wide world post-university. Attending job interviews, renting your own home, and buying a weekly shop that contains both fruit AND vegetables are all signs that you’re now officially an ‘adult.’
But before you leave uni, there are a few things you may find useful to know now you’ve graduated and are looking for your first full time job. From graduate schemes to student loans, here are the 10 things no-one tells you about leaving uni.
1. Your degree won’t go to waste
Even if you don’t end up in a job specific to your uni course, that doesn’t mean that your degree has gone to waste. Completing any degree will teach you any number of desirable skills that businesses will be looking for, and being able to demonstrate that you can work well in a team, deliver engaging presentations and provide in-depth research will prove invaluable when trying to impress a prospective employer. The social skills you learn at uni will also give you a bit of a confidence boost when it comes to charming interviewers, and you’ll be able to provide plenty of real-life examples from your experiences whilst obtaining your degree. Not only that, but you’ll be considered a “degree level candidate”, meaning that you can apply for positions specifically tailored to university graduates.
There are some common misconceptions before going to uni about what life will be like afterwards, such as how much you are likely to be earning as a recent college graduate. Our research shows that two in five students expect to be earning between £19,000 - £25,999 in the year after completing their studies.* However, not all graduates fall straight into their dream job after their degree, and some might search for a few months for employment. You might even find that you need to compromise on salary or location to get the right job for you.
Although this is an exciting time, as soon as you leave uni you may find yourself feeling uncertain about the future and where you’re going to be a few months down the line. Don’t panic, and know that all of your friends are in the exact same position. Take a step back and think about what you really want to do when you leave uni, and where you want to do it. Once you find a job you may find that you want to stay there a while, which means you shouldn’t jump into any huge life decisions without first taking the time you need to think things through.
*Endsleigh Lifestyle Survey 2016-2017, Career expectations
3. Practice makes perfect
You are likely to go through a number of interviews after you leave university, and unfortunately they might not all result in a job offer. But don’t feel disheartened – just the fact that you’re getting interviews is great, and it’s all useful experience. You’ll learn a lot about various roles and businesses just from talking to recruitment consultants, which means that you can start to get a picture of the sort of place you might like to work. If you do receive rejections, it’s a good idea to ask for interview feedback from the recruiter or employer – more often than not they’re happy to help out, so not only can you learn from previous interviews, but it’ll also show them that you have initiative and ambition should you ever find yourself in an interview with them again. Having a number of interviews will provide you with all the constructive feedback you need to help you to get the role that is right for you, so take every interview that comes your way.
4. Graduate schemes do not guarantee a job
A graduate scheme can be a great opportunity to learn more about the workplace and develop new skills – whilst they might pay less than a non-graduate job (but not necessarily), what a graduate scheme will definitely provide is handy on-the-job training that will look amazing on your CV, no matter where you choose to work. It’ll also show that you’re adaptable, as many graduate schemes offer the opportunity to rotate through departments, meaning that you learn about all areas of the business so you’re better equipped to know which area you might like to end up working in. However, you’ll want to bear in mind that just because you manage to get a placement on a graduate scheme does not necessarily mean that you’re guaranteed a job at the end of it. And whilst rotating through departments can be a great thing, you may also have to work in areas of the business you’re not so interested in, so bear this in mind before applying. Find out early on what the chances are of gaining a full time position is at the end of the placement so that you’re fully prepared for every eventuality.
5. Checking your bank account
You may find yourself checking your bank account more frequently than you’re used to, especially now that you won’t be receiving the same student loans and bursaries each semester. Whilst you may find the job of your dreams straight away, more likely you’ll take a part-time job just to tide you over in the meantime. However, there may come a time where you find yourself a little short, especially if you’ve already moved out and are trying to cover rent and bills, all whilst searching for a full-time job. In these situations, don’t be afraid to ask for help - the bank of mum and dad might still be open for business if you ask nicely!
If you’ve had a student bank account whilst at uni, you might also want to think about updating this to a graduate account. It may be worth speaking to your bank to find out what rates and overdrafts are available to you through a graduate account so that you can start to chip away at your student debt.
6. You’ll never think about your student loans
There’s a misconception that you’ll be overwhelmed by student debt as soon as you leave uni, but this simply isn’t the case. Not only are your monthly repayments arranged automatically by Student Finance so you don’t need to do anything, but the amount of your repayments are also based upon how much you earn so you’ll never be paying back more than you can afford. In fact, the payments usually comes straight out of your payslip, so you might not even notice when you start paying it back. Your student debt also doesn’t work like other types of debt, such as credit card debt or an overdraft, as it doesn’t appear on your credit file, and therefore has no impact on your ability to take out other loans or to get a mortgage offer.
It’s also worth remembering that from 06 April 2018 the government have changed the repayment threshold for anyone that started university after 2012, meaning that you will now only have to start paying back your student loan once you are earning over £25,000 per annum. This will also increase annually in line with changes to average earnings. The loans are designed to be manageable for graduates, so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever give a thought to your student debt once you leave uni.
7. Moving home
When you leave uni for the last time you will also more than likely be moving away from your uni town, perhaps to go travelling or to move back home for a while. And whilst you may think you’ll only be back with your parents for a few months, you might find that you enjoy being looked after for a while and decide to stay a little longer. Whilst it can be a bit jarring moving back in with your parents after three years of independence at uni, there are many benefits to moving back home. Not only will you save money, but you might enjoy the comfort of having your family around you whilst you go through the interview process. Not only that, but there will always be healthy food in the cupboards, and tea in the pot whenever you fancy a chat. You have the rest of your life to rent or buy a home, but once you move out of your childhood home you probably won’t want to move back in, so don’t be in a rush to fly the nest just yet.
Having said that, it might be worth checking with your parents that they don’t mind having you back - they might have enjoyed their newfound independence too!
8. You might lose touch with a few people
One of the best things about uni has to be the sheer amount of friends you make everywhere you go – in your halls of accommodation, during seminars and lectures, whilst playing a round of pub golf organised by a club or society. By the time you leave uni you’ll have cultivated hundreds of new friendships, and whilst some might stick, it’s likely that you could lose touch with a lot of your new friends as you move back to the cities and towns you came from and start the next chapter of your lives. But that’s ok – you’ll make the time for the people that you really want to stay in contact with, and you’ll make heaps of news friends as you start new jobs and take up new hobbies throughout your twenties.
9. You’ll start to feel old
Even though you’re certainly not old yet, once you leave uni you might start to feel it. Whether it’s a case of not being ID’d when you try to get in the club, or being refused student discount because your NUS Extra card has technically expired, there may come a point where you yearn for your youth.
You may even find that within a few months of leaving uni you decide that it’s a great idea to attend a student night at the local club – it is considerably cheaper after all. However, don’t be surprised if you feel a lot older than everyone around you, no longer recognise any of the music, and don’t know how you used to pretend you were ever comfortable in your ‘going out’ outfit. And because of this, it’s likely that the first student night you go out on after university will be your last - but that’s ok, because now that you’ve given up on club nights, it means that there’s more time for comfy evenings on the sofa with a warm cup of tea.
10. Learning doesn’t stop after uni
You may think your days in education are over, but the reality is that they might not be. There are lots of career paths and businesses that will offer opportunities to gain further training whilst you’re employed by them, which will sometimes be funded by the company – after all, it’s to their benefit for their employees to get better at their jobs. Some career paths may even require you to go back to university to gain further qualifications to be able to work in a specific industry, such as undertaking a law conversion course, or teacher training. In all cases, you’ll likely have plenty of opportunities to complete further education that will allow you to excel and develop in your career.
Read our disclaimer.