How to Navigate Life after graduation : A Student Guide

Life after graduation is a scary prospect for most of us. Moving away to university is a challenge, but once you have got comfortable it is a nice feeling to have that security of routine that comes with three or four years studying at university, getting closer to your network of friends and enjoying where you live.

What comes next? Even if you have solid plans in place, it can be daunting to bring those to fruition and move into a ‘proper’ adult phase of life for the first time.

You’ll be looking for a job and career, preparing for job interviews, finding places to live (either alone, in a shared house with other young professionals or a partner), and embarking on your own personal journey through life. This is where things really get going and it is a fantastic time in your young adult life.

2 girls and 2 boys wearing a graduation gown and cap - life after graduation

What is success?

Success will look very different from one person to the next. It isn’t necessarily important at this age to know exactly what you want for a career, or where you want to live for the next 10 years, things can change often as we know.

It is important to sit and think about what success looks like for you specifically though, with no pressure on a definitive answer. This isn’t an easy thing to do, of course, but thinking about how you want to live your life and what you want to get out of, it can be a pointer as to how you go about looking at what to do next.

Do you want a life focused on your career and the pursuit of a healthy wage? Do you want to travel and see the world? Settle down with a family? There are no wrong answers.

Girl wearing blue shirt thinking

Mentally prepare for the future

Linked to the above practice of thinking about what success means to you, there are different ways to mentally prepare for the future. Putting in place a plan for your life can be thorough and meticulous, with clear steps at every point (if you are that type of person), but it can also mean figuring out little things about who you are and what you can deal with.

Take time to learn about yourself, to look at all potential options moving forward and see what makes sense to you and what doesn’t. Try not to compare yourself to others, as this can lead to pressure and mental health problems that many students and post-grads face.

We all travel at different speeds, and this is completely fine. If you see your best friend flying into a new career but you are not sure what to do next, there is nothing wrong with that. Take this time to reflect.

A person's hand writing on a planner -

Explore as much as you can

University is a time to explore wherever you can, to find what you enjoy, and to see what makes the town or city you are living in tick. You’ll be exposed to different types of people that you might not have met before university, from all walks of life.

You’ll learn, you’ll love, you’ll work hard, you’ll have loads of fun. Your first year after university should be approached in a similar way to ensure that you maximise your enjoyment.

Explore everything in life, especially if you are not yet sure exactly what you want to do for a career or where to live for the long term. Try out different things, as you might not get such a ‘free’ time again in your life. This will give you time to find what you like and don’t like about life and take that with you.

Girl wearing brown shirt , holding a phone waiting at the airport to explore -life after graduation

Make the most of networking

Networking is a fantastic way to build connections with people, to gain inspiration in certain fields, and to learn more. Networking helps to prepare you for whatever future life you want to have, putting you with people who have maybe already trodden the path you wish to go down, with life stories, advice and tips.

Networking also provides opportunities for internships, conferences, part-time employment, or full-time graduate roles. There are many different ways in which networking can help you, even in terms of building your confidence to speak to strangers and to speak in front of an audience, which will always come in handy in the future.

On a very basic level, networking events are about people, and the more people you know in life, the richer it becomes.

2 men and a woman talking at a networking event

Find new hobbies

One of the biggest things you’ll find when university finishes is that you no longer have that routine that you have become accustomed to over the past few years. This can be jarring, especially if you do not have a postgraduate course or job to walk straight into yet.

What do you do with your time? Finding new hobbies is a fantastic way to combat this loss of structure and to find new things that you enjoy. This could be absolutely anything and you can use this search for a hobby to spend time alone in a restful way.

You can choose to be creative, to play sports and get fit, to socialise and meet new people and potential friends, whatever it is that you enjoy doing. Make the most of it, as this could be one of the primary building blocks to your adult life.

A person learning how to crochet from a video

Say goodbye to university life

It is important to say goodbye to your university life in a positive way. Plan to have goodbye meals and nights out with the friends you have made.

Plan to keep in touch with people who are moving to new places, plan to travel together over the summer months, and just make the most of the last few weeks and months in university, as this is a special time in your life.

2 women hugging each other goodbye - life after graduation

There are a few different ways that you can approach life after graduation, but the biggest thing we would say to you is to look at it with excitement.

The whole world lies before you, and though it can be daunting, it is also full of possibilities and you can achieve whatever it is you set out to do as long as you are prepared to work hard, think strategically, and use the opportunities that are given to you and that you create off your own back.

Whether it is networking or putting together a clear plan of action specific to you, these are a few ways in which you can navigate life after graduation successfully.