The ultimate guide to life after university
Graduating from university into the working world can be scary! Here’s our quick guide to making that transition as smooth as possible.
Taking the leap from a life of education into the ‘real’ working world is a daunting thought for many students.
Not only do you need to figure out an income, but you’ll also be going through some major lifestyle changes that can result from just moving away from university and close friends.
It’s not uncommon for graduates to face the prospect of moving back in with the parents, which might seem like a step backwards.
But! Graduating is also a really exciting period of your life, full of choices and opportunities! Whether you’re getting used to living for the weekend, planning your travels, hankering after more study as a post-grad or going it alone, there are plenty of paths to consider.
Save the Graduate is all about getting you ready for, and succeeding in your new life after university. Welcome to our ultimate guide which will take you through the things to think about immediately before offering a few nuggets of advice on choosing which graduate path to take…
What to think about immediately after graduating
We’ll take a look at your career and longer term options in a minute, but first let’s cover a couple of things you need to think about right away.
Re-paying your student loan
Your student loan can seem like a big cloud of debt looming over your head, but in reality it’s really not that bad and there’s a lot of confusion about how much you will have to pay back and when.
Whether you started uni before or after the introduction of the new higher tuition fees in 2012, we’ve written a handy little guide that tells you all you need to know about your student loan repayments here.
Settle all old debts and bills
Once you’ve moved out of your student house it’s going to be difficult receiving any mail from utilities companies. So to avoid escalating charges and damaging your credit rating it’s vital you clear all house bills and receive your final confirmation bills right away, especially if they’re in your name!
It’s also worth clearing any other IOUs with friends or other debt such as library fines to avoid unexpected problems further down the line.
After university you have a number of options, although everyone’s circumstances will be different. You could move back home, stay in your university city with friends or move somewhere completely new.
For most graduates, money will be a significant factor and before agreeing to rent a place it’s important to work out whether you can afford it and that it’s what you want. If you’re lucky enough to have found a job, or think your career prospects are better in a particular location, then that will also influence your choice of where to live. Lastly, you’ll also be thinking about how close you’ll be to friends and family.
It’s worth knowing that in some cases your future employer may be able to help you relocate, especially if you’re moving abroad or are placed on a prestigious graduate scheme.
Graduate bank account
Unfortunately the days of having an interest-free overdraft are coming to an end! Make sure you check the repayment conditions, especially looking at how long you have to pay it off before incurring interest charges.
Most of the high street banks will give you between one and three years to repay your student overdraft, and if you do have a good amount of time remaining then don’t rush to clear it straight away as you could probably do with the money whilst you’re job hunting.
Having said that, it would be a smart move to start squirreling away manageable chunks of money into a high interest savings account so that when the term expires you’re able to pay it off (having made some money in the meantime!).
It’s also worth noting that, depending on the terms, you may be able to switch your bank to extend your interest-free overdraft term or enjoy other benefits such as cash back. Have a look around!
Avoid graduation blues
For most, the years you spend at university are the best in your life. However the fun doesn’t have to stop there!
It’s true that there may be a lot of changes in your life but this doesn’t mean that things are set to be any worse. Just bear in mind that it could take a little time to adapt and you will have the opportunity to make new friends as well as keep old ones.
If you have to move home to live with your parents then it’s not the end of the world. A lot of graduates are in the same boat as you and it can even be an opportunity to save money and get back in touch with your old friends from school.
Don’t be scared to claim JSA
There’s a lot of stigma attached to those who take job seekers allowance (JSA) but you shouldn’t be put off claiming benefits.
This welfare system was set up for people who needed support whilst looking for a job, so as long as you don’t plan to take advantage of it JSA can be a real help for graduates as a source of finance whilst looking for jobs in the first couple of months.
One thing to be aware of is that you cannot claim JSA whilst you are on an internship (even if it’s unpaid).
For more information check out our guide to claiming JSA after graduating.
Clean up your online presence
In this modern day and age job seekers need to do more than just update their CV when looking for a job.
Your online presence is now more important than ever (especially on social media sites such as Facebook). You’ll need to make sure that if an employer is looking for you online (which is now common and easy to do) that they either get a good impression of you or can’t access certain information or photos you’d rather keep private!
Luckily we’ve covered everything that you need to think about in our guide to cleaning up your social media profiles.
Don’t stop using deals
Just because you are no longer a student it doesn’t mean that you can’t track down and use deals anymore. In fact if we let you into a little secret, most of the deals aimed at students are available for everyone!
We don’t want you to miss out on the latest deals and competitions so we’ve created our very own graduate deals section.
Make new friends
As you step out into the ‘real’ world it’s all about being more confident and getting yourself out there. If you find yourself sitting at home with your parents most nights then it may be worth looking at local social or sports clubs in order to meet new people in your local area.
If you manage to bag a job make a real effort to get to know your new colleagues. It can open you up to a whole new social scene!
Join the Save the Graduate community
Ok, this might sound a bit biased but after all we are here to help you through life after graduation, no matter what you choose to do.
Make sure you’re signed up to the site and we’ll make sure we keep you updated on all the latest goings on, including everything from finding a job to keeping up to date with the latest graduate deals and offers.
Choose your path
Do you want to get a graduate job, a placement, an internship, go travelling, continue with post-graduate study or something entirely different?
It’s important to have goals and realistically set out where you want to be in 5-10 years time. Visualising this end goal can help you to make the right decisions when leaving university instead of concentrating on the short term.
Here are your main options:
A graduate career
This is the obvious choice for most when leaving university. The most common step is to make a move straight into a career and start to develop your experience and skill set.
However, this is becoming increasingly more challenging, due mainly to growing job competition. That’s why Save the Graduate is here to help you out.
There is such a wide range of jobs including graduate training schemes and graduate specific roles. The most common is a graduate style role within a company but many strive to get on a graduate scheme as they offer the best training.
A part-time/alternative job
As a stop-gap and a way to make much needed money, many students seek out a temporary job such as in retail or at a bar. There is no shame in this and the majority of recent graduates are now having to take this path as they start life after university.
The important thing to remember is that you should be applying for full-time roles at the same time as working in a part-time job.
If your long term goal is to work for a top company or simply excel in a particular field but you are struggling to get a job then it may be a good idea to apply for an internship or placement.
Although we do not agree with unpaid placements, a higher number of graduates every year are having to take them up in order to get a foot on their chosen career ladder. If you are able to afford it (by living at home for a few months for example) then it can be worth it in the long run.
Having placement experience on your graduate CV will set you apart from other applicants for jobs and you may even be offered a full time position.
In recent years, figures have shown an increase in the number of undergraduate students choosing to follow a post-graduate study route in their life after university. This is because it allows a lot of students to specialise in a certain subject and show employers that you are dedicated to that field.
A lot of students also choose to take an academic path in the form of a PhD or even becoming a lecturer. It is not suited to everyone but if you are interested it’s worth looking in to.
Being at a crossroads, many students choose to take a gap year after university as opposed to before. Or maybe, if you are lucky enough you can do both!
There are lots of companies out there that can help pay for a gap year by offering work abroad. It takes a certain type of person but it’s a great way to get some experience and make a steady transition into life after university.
More and more graduates these days are looking at working for themselves or creating a start-up in response to the weak graduate job market.
It’s not for everyone but if you are deciding on taking the plunge then the reward can be well worth it. Not only does it allow you to develop your skills at a very fast rate but it can also help in getting a job in the career that you want further down the line.
If you’re interested in seeing a few stats about how other students and grads feel about post-university life, check out our ‘life after university’ survey results.
All that’s left is to do is wish you the best of luck in whichever path you choose and we hope that STG can help you along the way!