Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Undergraduates: stop panicking! A bit!

Many final year students are heading into the pre-graduation depression phase. Jobs and further study courses all seem hopeless, dissertation deadlines are looming, and the issue of where to live next year seems like it will never be resolved. You have to start getting out of bed early soon and NOTHING FUN WILL EVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

The only reason I'm not calling this part a graduate myth is because it mostly concerns undergraduates and there's only so much I can calm your nerves, given this blog is called the Disorientated Graduate. Look, being a graduate, on balance, isn't as fun as being a student. You have to pay council tax, for a start. And this time of year is a bloody horrible one. Here are some survival tips and hopefully some slightly encouraging words. (I'll try to keep council tax discussions for a minimum.)

1. You have to finish your degree first! This is important! You have worked for several years towards the degree, and now is the time to buckle down. Yes, it's as much fun as a brick to the head, but it's a very satisfying feeling to hand in a fully bound dissertation, and finishing exams is a sweet, sweet day. I got so drunk in the afternoon after my last exam (with lecturers, natch) that I forgot how to get home to the house I'd lived in for two years. (I found it in the end, but had a very peaceful twenty minutes sat on a kerb trying to work stuff out.)

Seriously, though, you've spent years at the place, you might as well try to come out with a degree. Logically you're reasonably intelligent and worked hard to get into the place to begin with, so you may as well not have all those years wasted.

2. You may not have a job yet, or have heard back from the post-graduate course. You may not have bothered applying. This was an unwise move, but there we go. Get your head down and start applying right now. Speak to your careers advisers. You probably still not find something, but having applications in is a good feeling, and filling out those deadly dull forms is good experience. No, really, it is.

N.B. If you have a job lined up, or a post-graduate role, than congratulations! You are awesome, and be proud of your achievement! Don't be a dick about it though. I know someone who got onto a successful graduate scheme and is now complaining to anyone that will listen that 'they're too good' for accountancy. Fuck that noise. If you don't want the job, don't apply for it. Don't turn it down because buddy, unemployment is a lot less fun. Also all of your friends hate you now. If you hate the job after doing some time in it, that's a different kettle of fish, but don't wipe it off straight away. Also, as a recent graduate, you're not too good for ANYTHING just yet. You've seen the youth unemployment figures, right?

3. Don't worry right now if employers and universities haven't got back to you. This application is the most important thing in the world to you, but not to them. They will get back in due course. Send a polite e-mail, perhaps, but don't nag and don't waste hours fretting.

4. This is no way cancels out the first point, but do try to find time for socialising. Graduate life doesn't have that sense of student camaraderie, or not as often. Enjoy it!

5. Try not to worry too much. At some point things will start falling into place, at least a bit. Don't listen to everyone who tells you that things will be magically amazing when you graduate, because that's a lie. You will have to work, and work hard, but it isn't all council tax and bleak unremitting horror. You can put the heating on, and go on holiday occasionally, and that really is all quite exciting when you think about it.

Now try and ignore my blog for a bit, because you need to believe in point 5 to get you through the last bits of university and I suspect that I may be more bitter than usual until the kids in the flat upstairs start sleeping through the night, or the mad busy seasonal work in my office lays off a bit. One or the other would be a relief.

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