Words by an Anonymous Writer
Graduating and living abroad
I moved to London after being accepted by one of the best Universities in my field, East Asian Studies. Therefore, my original plan was very clear, I would have moved to Asia and entered the business world. Life however is ironic and suddenly I realised my plan was hazier than I thought as I could not put this into words when explaining it to a particularly inquisitive friend of mine. I just knew I was a pretty great student, and this has been my passion since I could remember. On top of that I was bold so I would have figured this out eventually, I was SO not worried.
Graduating for me represented a proper celebration of my efforts away from the comfort of my family and friends for two whole years. I got a good mark and I had recently moved in with my partner, so it felt like my adult life was just starting.
Fast-forward a few years later
Well, what do you know?
Things have been less than perfect in the past few years. The road has been bumpier than ever (Brexit, increased competition in the London job market and recently COVID-19) but don’t think life graduation has ever been easy for anyone.
University is structured in a way you pass the test, you move forward. For every effort there is an upgrade, a level-up if you will. No one tells you after graduating this does not apply to the job industry.
I have always been employed while I was studying, I got consistently promoted and I became Manager in my mid twenties. Yet this kept me from focusing on my long-term goals as I was into deep in my day-to-day operations and I started to build a good reputation in my company.
The lockdown represented a moment when I had time to think about my future and I used this momentum to explore different ideas and gain skills I did not think I could get outside a more traditional, formal education.
University was a great challenging experience and I will always cherish that but real learning starts after that.
Tips to pivot your current status (jobless or employed)
- Online learning: As mentioned, the lockdown created the perfect situation for me to carry on with my education in different areas. Valid online courses such as Google Digital Garage, Coursera, Udemy and edX are a great way to learn at very little (or none) cost. LinkedIn Learning has been my favourite so far. Courses are thought by professionals and you can access those for free for 30 days. Bonus: you get access to LinkedIn Premium too so you can check how you score against other candidates, you can check who visits your profile and at the end of the course you get a Certification. Just to back everything up.
- If you are currently working create a table to schedule in your next steps. It will become increasingly difficult to create a meaningful change if you are not organised and realistic on your priorities. Set alarms on your phone and complete small steps from a bigger task every other day. Keep it going.
- If you are currently working (sorry fresh grads, but we need help too!) try your best to pivot your current job role. Example: if you work in retail but would like a career in Project Management, start educating yourself on the topic with the aforementioned online courses plus create a project to present to your manager/relevant department. You will get practical experience, showing off you are a self-starter and possibly start building new connections.
- Get a mentor: find someone in the industry (or even better, in your company) who you admire and create a relationship with them. This will help you gain more insights and will definitely lead to new opportunities. Maybe even a new job.
Four things I wish someone told me before graduating
1. Life is not linear. It is important to always put the work into the goals you want to achieve and have a good general trajectory but, trust me, it will never go according to your original plan. Your plan will probably change a hundred times (unless you always knew you wanted to be a surgeon) and that’s more than fine. You change, you grow, you evolve. So why your plans should not?
2. It is fine to not have everything figured out. Really. Nobody has it together as they like to pretend, and people usually do what they are pressured to think they should do. In order to find your own, unique, beautiful voice you have to make mistakes, be kind to yourself in the process and learn your lessons.
3. If you feel lost, seek help. It took me a long time to figure this out as I like to rely on myself mostly, but the pressure I put on myself pretending I should be elsewhere in my life and I needed to fix is ASAP took a toll on my mental well-being. Talk to a good friend or a therapist (we all should) and find the beauty in the struggle. Good things take time so stay focused, carry on and remember to have fun in the meantime.
4. You will read this a lot, but it doesn’t make it less true. DO-NOT-COMPARE-YOURSELF-TO-OTHERS. Your journey is yours to mould, your happiness is not a race with your former colleagues and you only owe yourself. Learn how to be your own cheerleader, trust me you will need her when the times get though.
From my heart to yours, good luck. You got this.