Is graduating without a life plan the end of the world? No, not really. Most 22 year olds don’t know what they want to do with their life, and even if they do, many will change their minds later. Still not convinced? OK, here’s why it’s not the end of the world not to have your life planned out post graduation:
There’s no rush
This time, just after graduation, is really valuable. Take that time and figure yourself out, especially if your parents are prepared to bankroll you for a few months. If you can, think about travel or volunteering your time. After all, in aspirational roles such as fashion and publishing, working for free, or ‘for expenses’ is simply expected. It’s worth taking time to figure out what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what someone will pay you to do. If they align, that’s great, but also pretty rare.
Just remember; you’ve just achieved something incredible. This is the culmination of 3-5 years of study, hard work and placements. All at a really pivotal and transformative point in your life. Take a moment to appreciate that your hard work has paid off.
Careers have changed
It used to be that you got your degree, started at entry level at a good company, worked your way up and retired age sixty with a reasonable pension. But nowadays, statistics say that unlike the old ‘job for life’ model, most of us will have at least three separate careers in our lifetime. Not jobs, careers.
Some do it simultaneously with a ‘portfolio career’. That’s a fancy name for professionals who combine a professional part time job with, say, freelancing and a side hustle. This could be an Etsy shop, sponsored haul videos, as Sheryl Sandberg said you should see your career as ‘a jungle gym, not a ladder’. It’ll likely go up, sideways and even down, and that’s not a bad thing. After all, she worked for the White House before taking lower level jobs at unknown little tech startups – like Google and Facebook.
People change. You may have completely changed your mind about your career path by the end of your degree. Some graduates spend six months in their dream field, only to realise they hate it. Others studied very specific, very narrow fields, then found that positions available were extremely scarce and competitive. This isn’t something to panic about. Most degrees are flexible, will open doors for you, and aren’t binding. If you really end up stuck, there is always room to retrain.
Post grad qualifications are always an option, and a good one if you plan to specialise in a niche area. Be careful though; they can help you develop your skills, but can also be a way to procrastinate. Remember as well, a lot of the most successful people have ‘fallen into’ their jobs. Facebook was a side project.
If you rush into emotional, physical and financial investment in a ‘dream job’ you need to prepare for the fact that it could be gone a year later. Your company could run into financial trouble. You could suddenly lose interest in a passion that used to consume you. A place that used to be warm and welcoming can become constricting and claustrophobic. It’s worth getting used to rolling with it, because you’ll have to at some point or another.
Others will have opinions, and that’s fine. Listen if you like – just don’t let them define you. The well meaning friend who suggests you hold out for your dream job no matter what won’t be paying your rent. The cousin that extols the virtue of corporate law won’t be the one sitting in an office at 11pm on a Friday night. Every option – more study, exotic travel, a steady job, a risky start up idea – has its pros and cons. And it’ll make you miserable if it’s not your path.
Life is beautiful and wild and messy. It won’t turn out the way you expect. And that’s OK.
This article is a guest post, kindly written by Peter Charnley, owner of Mighty Student Living. Peter enjoys sharing his advice and experience with students and graduates in his spare time.
Written by Jemma Lynch