student life

How should you prepare for life after university?

Written by Rozina Sabur

Final year is a terrifying thing.

Final year is a terrifying thing. Even the familiar comfort of good friends and the local landscape becomes bitter sweet: soon the ‘bubble’ will burst and the stark reality of ‘the real world’ will be thrust upon us.

We came, we saw and now we are expected to conquer. According to The Telegraph employers do come knocking.  But we are taking no chances. When we are not holding forth on interview questions, we entertain ourselves by rehearsing how we’re going to convince a tutor to give us a good reference, if not a very good one, and persuade another tutor to predict a first. Reality suddenly intervenes when you are asked what you’re going to be doing in a few months time.

The scary part, for me at least, is that the answer is ‘I really don’t know.’

Consumers up to now, we have complained, and how, on the journey. Of course, we knew that eventually we would have to deliver – those years of education were preparing us for a career in the ‘real world’. It is daunting to think that that moment has almost arrived and for those, like me, still consulting the crystal ball, the ground feels quite wobbly.

So, as we survey the fast approaching horizon with forensic zeal every possibility seems to have its own complications. Should we take the Master’s route, and postpone reality for one more year? Given the lack of funding for Masters, this is a tough decision to make, a lot of money to spend.

Life post Boar has to be embraced. Ignoring the small sum of £9,000, for a moment, an MA in Journalism could be just the ticket. Who responded with ‘oxymoron’ when journalism was paired with job prospects?

And then the amount of time that has to be spent on the actual applications, not to mention the pre or mid application phase which becomes an end in itself. Questions such as ‘what is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done’ serve to remind you that bonding deserves its own qualification from Warwick and are rivalled only by gems like ‘what do other people say are your best and worst characteristics’. Given the level of diplomacy in evidence in these sessions Foreign Office careers certainly beckon for some.

Having subscribed to various career websites your inbox is flooded on a daily basis with deadlines for MAs, grad schemes and internships. The deadline dilemma has transformative or delusional effects. From inside many an unlikely chrysalis emerges, to misquote the bard, ‘one woman who in time plays many parts.’

I’m not the only one to be seduced and to experience this transient phase of metamorphosis. I have noticed the effect on others too—suddenly friends with no inclination towards knowledge about, or experience of, banking, for example, are thinking or, more precisely, asking if they should be thinking about applying for jobs with Goldman Sachs and RBS. Definitely this opportunity to reinvent yourself has to be counted on the plus side (while it lasts).

Is it only three years since we grappled on the nursery slopes with the personal statement and worried about giving ourselves an edge? But what hope of standing out now in the current employment climate? Why even waste valuable time on an application? I mean, everyone has a long list of work experience and additional activities to set them apart now don’t they?

Surrounded by hardworking and talented students self –doubts can easily creep in. But you must remember that one of the perks of attending Warwick, as a recent survey confirms, is that it makes you hugely employable. 

However, this lack of confidence in recognising your own qualities may account for the fact that state school students are less likely to translate their degrees into graduate jobs than their private-school-educated peers, according to the Guardian.

A study by Bristol University has found that although students from state school backgrounds fared better in their degrees percentage wise, this superior academic performance did not reflect success in entering the jobs market. Just 58 percent of state-school-educated graduates find a job in comparison with 74 percent of independently educated graduates in the same period.

But don’t let the competition faze you. You might be surrounded by people who can match you skill for skill but, with a bit of luck, your prospective employer might not see it that way. And, if like me, you haven’t applied for anything yet, don’t despair, there is still time to ‘carpe diem’.

What is your advice for life after uni? How are you preparing? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.