By Ben Thomson
Illustration: Keith Bloody Mary
When you’re caught up in night outs, deadlines, seminars, lectures and an assortment of other activities, a year in university can really fly by. You’re hurtling through, trying to keep it all together, hoping that you don’t slam into a brick wall right at the year’s end.
There may come a point where everything seems to slow down, go quiet and that dreaded thought dawns upon, ‘What am I doing with my life?’
Seemingly, it’s all we are ever expected to think about. Whether it is embodied by stories in press of universities and job prospects or that seldom-seen relative who gives you a discerning look and says, “What you going to do after uni?”, our future is always a pressing issue.
More and more people seem flustered about the prospect of leaving university and finally be out in the ever-changing world. Perhaps they’re on a degree that they feel passionate about, maybe they’re having regrets. Maybe they have a clear goal in mind, or they’re desperately searching for a life-ring in the ocean of possibilities.
Students are already plagued by mental health problems. YouGov revealed that 39% of students attribute feelings of anxiety or depression to concerns about finding a job after university (identified as the second biggest factor for stress, after university work itself).
I can certainly relate to this harrowing statistic. There have been times where any good mood can grind to a halt, once I start reflecting on my future. Apocalyptic scenarios flash across my mind, where I’m a complete failure in life, nothing has worked out and I’m lamenting even going to university.
Getting out of that mindset isn’t so easy.
Some people prefer to map out their entire lives and get a head-start on achieving their goals – whether that be through seeking work experience, internships or taking up volunteering. Others won’t have such clear-cut paths set out for them.
There’s no words of reassurance that will completely settle the worries about post-uni life, but it’s crucial to remember that such feelings are completely natural, and most certainly universal. Truthfully, most people don’t stop worrying about the future at any point in their lives.
Admittedly, that’s not much consolation at all, if you’re a full-time worrier like me. So I’ll leave you with some advice I picked up from various sources on how to improve your chances of employment after university:
- Get involved in university societies
- Volunteer for a good cause
- Maintain a good attendance
- Make use of the university’s career advice service
- Be vigilant about searching for jobs while you’re still studying
You have time to prepare, despite how fast uni seems to go by. And above all else, don’t buy into the idea that your life is always going to be how it is when you leave university. Your 20s are not going to be the be-all and end-all of your life.
Success is obtainable, despite what those pangs of worry and insecurity may say.