The title of this post was literally the question I had in my mind after I submitted my last assignment in university two years ago. TWO FREAKING YEARS. How time flies. I decided to write a post about this because my friends just graduated from university and it brings back so many memories of those moments right after I graduated.
Growing up, the cycle of life I knew was you go to school, you go to university, and then you get a job and start working your dream job. Is it really this way? Based on my own personal experience, not really.
I went to university in the UK. Hey, Newcastle! I miss your cold weather. After graduation, I wanted to work in the UK. However, it wasn’t that easy. As a foreigner it was hard to get a job so after my visa expired and my internship over, I flew back home and the job hunting really began.
I have to say though that during that whole year of job hunting, I learnt and realized a lot of things. Even now after I started working, if I could go back in time and changed my attitude during that few months after graduation, I would.
Finding a job is hard. People here believe that if you graduated from university abroad, you’d get the first job you applied to with fantastic salary and benefits. While it’s probably the case for the few lucky people, I wasn’t one of them. If you are, congratulations!
I didn’t know how many companies I applied to, but I know that only a few of them replied back. It took me almost a whole year of graduating until I got my first (and current) job and that year of job hunting was not pretty. I read all the advice you can find on the internet about creating the perfect CV, writing the perfect cover letter and perfecting your interview strategies. I learnt all the ideal answers you should give your potential employers, and yet, I still didn’t get a job.
It messed a lot with my confidence. I kept questioning why didn’t I get the job I applied for? Why did that company choose the other candidate? Do people actually read the CV I sent them? On top of that, I was aware that my parents were passively waiting for me to get a job and they probably questioned why I was still unemployed although they never said it out loud. Being an overthinker, I even told myself that maybe my parents regret sending me abroad for school if they knew this was how it was going to turn out.
I kept asking myself what do you actually do after graduation? The culture I grew up in taught me that after graduation you are supposed to find a job right away. But the struggle to find a job after university is real.
It’s not until later on when I text my friend who was also graduating and we had a long, deep, heart-to-heart talk about graduation and the scary real world. I found out that I wasn’t the only one! She said that if tears were blood, she’d be dead by now because she cried so much. Truer words have never been spoken. The tears I shed during those job-hunting days could probably drown you all. It was such a relief to hear that I wasn’t the only one.
The time after graduation felt like the time to find out what and who you want to be. You may feel scared, you may feel like you are lacking purpose in life, you may feel like you are losing control, and you may feel all of them all at once. And that’s ok.
So… what to do after university?
Now that I’m no longer in that moment, I started to realise that there are a few things I would tell my 2016 self of what to do. First, stop overthinking! This is something I struggle with even until today. I always remind myself in the morning to stop overthinking and just focus on what’s going on. There is nothing you can do about the unknown. During my job-hunting season, the most overthinking I did always have to do with rejection. It makes me question my own ability and I realized now, it actually did nothing good for me. After I start working, I had a come to Jesus moment that rejection is not always bad. I knew if I had to choose between my current job and the other job I was rejected from, I’d choose my current job.
Another thing I’d tell myself is to always be open for opportunities and experience. Go for any internships and jobs you can find. I ended up doing internship and through that I learn what I like and don’t like. For me, it actually makes the job-hunting process easier since I know whether or not I’d most likely enjoy the job. Use that internship as a learning opportunity. There will always be one or two new skills you’ll learn from any job. Another thing I regret not doing enough was learning new skills when I had free time. Internet is a wonderful place and I know I can learn about anything from any websites.
For those of you who still have free time, spend some time with your friends and family, especially if you went to university abroad or out of states. Quality time with your friends and family would not hurt. What’s better than to talk with that one best friend you haven’t seen in a long time and just talk? It always feels nice to be able to reconnect with old friends. Travel is another thing you can do in your free time. As I’ve started working, I found that finding time to go on holiday when you already start a job is not easy. So, go travel when you have all the time in the world before real life begins!