Graduate blues: life after university


By Isaac Haigh, News Investigations Correspondent

The Croft Magazine // Throughout life many transitions take place. From a new job, moving to a new city and starting a family. These transitions offer many new opportunities for growth and developing who you are as a person but they can also be a great challenge.

One of the key transitions talked about at university surrounds the move to university: alone in a new city and a completely alien way of doing things. Much has been spoken about this key transition stage in regards to mental health, and rightly so, but there is another key transition, life after university.

Photo by Vasily Koloda / Unsplash

After three, four or even five years at a university people naturally start to gain a sense of belonging to their new found city, they build up a support network and develop habits that go with the university lifestyle. Graduation day is a day of great achievement, self pride and celebration but those feelings quickly make way for what comes next. People can have very different experiences depending on whether they have anything lined up next.

Recent graduates of chemistry gave their experiences to Epigram. Harry spoke to Epigram about how he felt on graduation day: 'Surreal, this is it, this is what I’ve been working for. All the photos and your gown. I always had an image of what graduation is like and then real life starts. Seeing everyone again, seeing everyone get their degrees, everyone worked so hard. Felt strange saying goodbye to Bristol'.

'It’s not easy to get on a grad scheme. I’m in a big city but there’s not endless jobs.’

Harry told Epigram about moving back home after four years away saying it was a ‘strange’ experience. ‘Partly feels like a step backwards. So lucky I can move back home and I don’t have to pay rent. Feel like I shouldn’t be relying on my parents. Been applying for jobs. Looking for jobs online [...]  is so demoralising.[...] Feel like you’ve been to uni, you’ve done really well and you think you’re going to walk into a job. But it’s really competitive. It’s not easy to get on a grad scheme. I’m in a big city but there’s not endless jobs.’

Coding together
Photo by NESA by Makers / Unsplash

Jen graduated last year and has since had a gap year. ‘It was like being released like a wild animal into the world. I had a plan that I would take a gap year and my life would fall into place but that didn’t happen.’

...some feel like graduate schemes can be very helpful

Whilst graduate schemes are a popular choice for graduates to go into, Fran, another chemistry graduate, spoke about how she’s looking for jobs now. Fran described the job search as ‘disheartening’. Whilst she felt the break had ‘given her time to think’, she went on to say ‘At the beginning of the year everyone’s applying to grad schemes because everyone else is and that’s the thing to do. Now I don’t think they’re for me.’

Photo by MD Duran / Unsplash

However some feel like graduate schemes can be very helpful. Sarah, now on a graduate scheme for a large company spoke to Epigram about her wellbeing support. ‘They encourage you to talk. They promote doing your hours, taking breaks and is very much a team culture. They really encourage collaboration, they want you to help each other out. I know if I’m struggling I can turn to someone.’

Should the university do more to help ease the transition? All who were interviewed said that if something could be done they were not sure what - and is it even the University's responsibility? ‘They could but I’m not sure if it's their problem. We pay them for an education. We’re not in school anymore. It’s a business transaction. It would be nice but I’m not sure they’re responsible. [..] I don’t know at what point [students] should take responsibility and become adults.’ Jen told Epigram.

Featured: Unsplash / Charles DeLoye

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Isaac Haigh

Chemistry PGR, News Investigations Correspondent 19/20