Last week I met a final year student who wanted to book a careers interview. Fine, I said, when are you available? He thought for a moment and sadly answered “anytime! I haven’t anything to do at all now that I’ve graduated!”
If you’re a new graduate without a job, course or placement on the horizon then it’s worth taking stock and considering your plans.
Quite often the initial euphoric relief at the end of a degree can be breath-taking: no more exams! no more having to be on campus! free from the tyranny of the library!
But equally overwhelming can be the thought that the rest of your life is stretching out ahead of you without the familiar milestones of the academic year.
It’s easy to take for granted the sense of order that a well organised degree can bring you ….the timetables, the planning of work, being thrown together with colleagues and course friends to work on projects, tutors and lecturers telling you (or ‘suggesting’ to you) what they expect.
And if you’ve just reached the end of a course after spending most of your life in education, from Primary to Secondary to College and University without much in the way of a break then this could be the first time that you’ve really faced a ‘future’ outside of academic study. Suddenly the long summer can appear to be almost without an end.
Routine and structure have been given quite a bad press. At best they’re portrayed as boring and at worst they are newsworthy as examples of how not to live your life.
Just look at the story currently doing the rounds on the internet about US school teacher Dale Irby, who wore the same outfit every year for forty years’ worth of school photographs.
Amazingly, he didn’t notice his costume routine at first : “I was so embarrassed when I got the school pictures back that second year and realized I had worn the very same thing as the first year,” said Dale. His wife, Cathy, dared him to do it a third year. Then Dale thought five would be funny. “After five pictures it was like: ‘Why stop?”
But daily routine can be good for you and not just psychologically – commitment is a skill that can impress a potential employer.
So what does routine mean if you’re a new graduate? It can be anything that brings some structure back into your life. It could be:
- Regular job searches e.g. checking The Guardian on thursdays.
- Setting time aside each weekday to write personal statements and CVs.
- Daily social networking – don’t forget that if used well sites such as LinkedIn can enhance your professionalism.
- Planning time to research companies and job vacancies thoroughly – this is a point that we bang on about a lot in careers and there’s a good reason for it: we know that employers value a well researched application.
Your routine can in fact be anything that gets you started, keeps you motivated and involves a strategy. If any of that sounds complicated, it really isn’t – and an interview with a careers adviser will help point you in the right direction.
You don’t need create a colour coded timetable, or wear the same tank-top for forty years, to get the benefits of a routine back in your life – setting time aside for planning is a simple way of having more control and order.
Above all remember to relish your time as a new graduate: at careers we know from experience that more than 90% of you do gain employment shortly after leaving – the complexities of a new job or academic course will come along sooner that you expect.
Posted by Chris Harris, Careers Information Officer.