Graduating is hard enough but graduating into a post pandemic, current pandemic, whatever on earth we are currently in, world is even harder. Trying to navigate what the next steps you want to take are whilst also still processing the fact that you’ve just graduated and are leaving your life of 1-3 years (or even more) behind is tricky and confusing.

So how to do it? How can we make our lives easier when navigating life after graduation?

Finally getting to graduate on campus

Take a break

I took this quite literally after I graduated. I wanted to have one long final summer where I didn’t have to think about anything or take anything too seriously. Me and my housemates all got COVID in the final week of living in our Birmingham house, so we all agreed that we needed to make the most out of our summer and get a proper send off after having one of the most anticlimactic endings to a uni experience, ever!

The last thing I wanted to do after graduating, especially after the hellish final year, was think about my next steps. In hindsight, I wish that I maybe hadn’t put off thinking about it quite as much as I did. But at the time, I really needed that break. I spent my summer travelling around the UK to meet friends, camping in Cornwall and spending way too much money on train tickets.

Our group decided to go camping in Cornwall to give us all a proper send off


Graduating from an undergraduate or postgraduate course is a massive achievement that needs plenty of celebrating and plenty of rest! Even if that means watching Real Housewives for days on end, or going out for drinks and on holidays with your friends. How you feel like you need to relax is the best way to relax.

There is so much pressure to have your life plan all sorted out after graduating. If you haven’t got a 9-5 job and a new flat lined up, you start to feel stupidly unprepared. Don’t get me wrong it’s great if you have one, but it also doesn’t matter if you’re still finding out what it is that you want to do. That weird empty feeling you get after graduating may make it almost feel as if studying and spending all that money wasn’t worth it. But that is where you’d be wrong. Everyone is moving at their own pace in life. There is no need to rush things until you’re ready.

Try not to compare your life to others

This is inevitably a lot easier in theory than it is in practice. You, like me, will probably have a plethora of questions. Friends, family members, friends of the family, hairdressers and even everyone you come across. They are all armed with the question: “So, what are you going to do now you’ve graduated?’”

This in turn might result into a full-blown panic and if you’re anything like me, a very long winded answer about how you’re “regularly applying but who knows in this COVID job market ey?”.

I spent a lot of time looking at what my friends and family, particularly my recently graduated friends, were doing and asking myself “why am I not where they are?” and “why am I not there yet?”. The thing is, it doesn’t matter where other people are. What I recently noticed is a lot of people who I thought were ‘there’ in actual fact were just as clueless or uncertain as the rest of us. You might find that people much older than you are still super unsure and that’s completely okay!

Where do I start?

So you’ve taken the time to relax and now you’re not sure what to do next. It can be daunting looking at all the different options that are out there. The first place I looked at after graduating was actually the University of Birmingham’s very own careers network, Careers Connect. As a UoB graduate you can also get a variety of support from the Careers Network which includes application support, LinkedIn learning and more general advice.

Careers connect was where I found my graduate internship within the Postgraduate Student Recruitment and Marketing team. I joined the internship programme, which is run by Lisa, in November and will be finishing near the end of January. This internship has helped me start to slowly figure out what it is that I want to do, and what it is that I don’t like. Working in Higher Education (HE) has been an eye opening experience because I have been involved with things that I had never even thought about before. It also gave me some proper work experience, in the form of a 9-5 hybrid office job. I loved working within a small team of people and seeing the different behind the scene roles.

I also spent a lot of time on LinkedIn, Indeed and Target jobs just scrolling and scrolling. It can feel like a monotonous activity but it is a good idea to just keep reading through job descriptions to get an idea of what it is people are looking for and what it is you are actually looking for. There is a lot of nicknames and titles of jobs that you may not even know exist.

Back in Birmingham for my internship means being back with Old Joe and back with the beautiful campus

Next steps for me

As I am writing this, I am in my final week of my internship at the University of Birmingham. I’ve had a couple of interviews and have applied for various positions but in all honesty I am still quite lost on where I’m heading next. I’m spending a lot of time talking to people, applying for jobs and researching non-stop.

I am probably going to take another break and look into doing some travelling or exploring of different options. I might even come back and do a Masters at Birmingham! Really I’m just trying to figure out the right path for me. Coming to terms with the realisation that you might not have everything completely figured out is okay, there isn’t a rush to settle down.

More and more recently people find themselves moving between jobs and changing their direction. There is less of a focus on having your specific path lined up for you and having it all figured out. Graduating from an undergraduate or postgraduate degree makes you go from being the big fish in the little pond to being the little fish in the big pond. It can be overwhelming but with doing research and utilising the services available, it makes it less daunting.

I graduated with a BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham in 2021. I now work as a Postgraduate Marketing Assistant intern within the Postgraduate Student Recruitment and Marketing team at the University of Birmingham.