5 Ways To Graduate In Style
Let me kick this off with a quick disclaimer. When I say style, I don’t mean being well dressed or anything, I wouldn’t know very much about that. When I say style, I mean style. Style, that ethereal, effervescent concept that means you’re doing it right.
Italics aside, in the run up to graduate you’ll probably be far too worried about actually starting your dissertation and posting Instagram pictures of you pretending to study that you’ll forget that life continues after graduation. In fact, not only does it continue, but arguably it gets harder. And when life gets harder, you’d better level up.
You might be thinking of the summer holidays, but as a lecturer of mine once said, there are no more summer holidays. He was a real cheerful fella, but he’s right. This is real life now, and it’s happening whether you like it or not. It’s happening even after the last three bottles for a fiver night at your favourite student haunt. It’s happening even after you move back home and realise why you wanted to move away from home in the first place. It sure as hell wasn’t to study.
So how can you prep for the beginning of the end as best you can? It’s simple. Follow my simple five step plan. Results may vary. Do not exceed the recommended dose. In the event of feeling productive, apply alcohol to throat, and repeat as necessary.
1 – Start Applying For Jobs Before You Graduate
Long before. I’m taking three or four months. Maybe right after Christmas. Lie about your projected grade if you need to. Nobody knows what they’re going to get until it’s too late to do anything about it, but if anyone in a suit asks, you’re getting a first, without a doubt.
This advice might be a little late coming now, considering you’ve already graduated, or you’re going too soon, but that’s all the more reason to pull your finger out. If you’ve ever applied for jobs in the past (and I hope to God you have, come on, you’re an adult) then you’ll know that the apply to hire process can take a long time.
2 – Don’t Take a Gap Year
It’ll turn into a gap life. Unless you got a pony for your tenth birthday, you can’t afford to go on a gap year, and if your parents are willing to pay for it then you are the 1% and I’m going to see your wheelie bin on fire on TV soon. If you take a year out to work and save for a gap year, you’re half right. The work experience is a good idea, but you’ll never save, and you’ll never take that gap year. You’ll get used to the money and the comforts of home and you’ll just work and work and occasionally waste your money on a night out or invest it in ending up on What Happens In Kavos…
Gap years are death. Businesses don’t actually want to see them on a CV. The single biggest thing that will get you hired is work experience. Not your three months spent teaching elephants how to make Nike shoes in Nepal.
And don’t you dare try to tell me it was humbling. Life is humbling, give that poncho a wash.
3 – Get Work Experience
This is what workplaces want to see. If you’re in any way interested in the creative industries, make a portfolio website, polish it up, and hunt for freelance work. The more you have under your belt, your better. Regardless of what industry you’re hoping to go into, you need to have the work experience to back up your degree and what you’ve supposedly learnt but never put into action.
Work experience anywhere is a plus. Even if it’s in a supermarket or a restaurant, though obviously the more relevant it is, the better. When I went in for internship interviews when finishing university, they were more interested in the fact that I had five or six years’ experience working in with food and in a retail environment.
It’s a given that every student that graduates from university has a degree, you need to have the CV to prove that you can work and operate in the real world. All the brains in the world are useless to a company if you lack common sense and workplace etiquette.
Even if it’s impossible to work for two years in Tesco’s within the next month, then at least start volunteering or hunting for freelance work in your future career of choice. Who wants to hire a 21 to 22 year old graduate who’s never worked a real job? They’ll be entitled, they need to be paid nearly double what a 16 year old with the same experience does, and you’ll expect more than minimum wage anyway because you have a degree. Why hire an adult baby like you when a moodier, spottier version of you will do the same job for half the price and be grateful for the pocket money? It’s a horrible, stark truth, but you know it makes sense.
4 – Do An Internship
Which leads nicely into my next point. Your university has likely been shoving their internships down your throat for the last year or so, and you’ve been too buried in work and re-runs of How I Met Your Mother to really give a toss about them. You’ll worry about them when you finish your work and graduate.
By then, they’ll be gone. Apply now. Most of these internships will be paid and will only be for students of the university you’re at. While they’re obviously corporate box ticking, so universities can tell future students and parents that seventy per cent of graduates from this course had a job within a year, they’re also invaluable opportunities. The wages won’t set the world on fire, but you’re getting paid for excellent on job experience in a real company that’ll look great on your CV.
I actually hopped from university to internship to real job myself within four months of graduating. I wouldn’t have gotten the internship without my past experience. I wouldn’t have gotten the real job without the internship. I wouldn’t have written this article without being a pompous prick.
My final tip is the easiest one, the one that will involve the least effort on your part. For the life hack version of this article, do step 5 and pat yourself on the back.
5 – Go to Your Graduation Ceremony and Take Those Stupid Photos
They’ll make your parents happy, they’ll make your grandparents happy, and you’ll get nice cards and lots of money from weird, distant relatives for graduating from university. Bonus points if you’re the first in your family to go to uni. Even more bonus points if you’re not the first to go, but the first to manage to finish. Suck it, siblings.
Plus, the ceremony is for you. You’ve worked hard for the last three or four years, so put on the silly gown and bask in it. Further down the line, you might regret that you didn’t get the photo of you holding the fake scroll back when you still had hair and hopes and dreams. Your degree is an achievement, and you should celebrate it.
Or at least use it as an excuse to replace the photo on the mantelpiece of you looking greasy and awkward in High School. Most importantly, graduate, go forth, and be excellent. Congratulations for joining the ranks of those with degrees. It’s a weird club with no particular benefits, but you’ve earned your place. The membership fee is the spectre of your student loans haunting you for all time.
Now go find a job. No gap years. Do it with style, because you certainly can’t afford any new clothes for a while.