Finishing a degree is a big achievement - you’ve put in years of hard work, pulled all-nighters, and missed nights out to get assignments in before 11.59pm. But now that it’s coming to an end, it’s natural to have lots on your mind.
A few recent and soon-to-be graduates shared their thoughts on finishing up their studies and the prospect of entering the workforce. From the excitement of freedom to the stress of adulthood, here’s what they had to say.
1. Navigating the “real world”
From six years old all the way into your early twenties school has set the pace and structure of your life. You got up early, went to class, and had a good idea of what you’d be doing for the next few years.
After having the same routine for so long the thought of breaking it can be daunting, which is something most students and graduates are grappling with. Siobhan Fagan, who just graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology and Criminology, says that her final year came quickly, and brought with it a fear of moving into the next stage of adulthood.
“It… was like a reality check that like, ‘Oh I'm meant to be entering the workforce after this year’,” she says.
“I'm so used to having my whole life planned out for me that going into what was just like, one year left and then possibly being an actual adult was the scariest thing that I hadn't felt since the end of Year 12.”
But while it can be nerve racking, students are also excited to see what working in their field is like, as well as what the graduate life entails.
2. A well-earned break
The opportunity to take a break is something many are keen for. Zach Hicks, who just graduated with a Bachelor of Design, says that he’s looking forward to taking some time for himself and potentially travelling.
“I just wanna slow down more and actually take everything in…it’s kind of nice now to feel like I don’t have to dedicate my time to assignments and thinking about uni,” says Zach.
Another bonus of being done with studying is that you don’t have to study! Let that sink in. Siobhan (and dare I say most graduates) are eager to make assignments a thing of the past.
3. Am I qualified?
When you start looking at graduate roles it’s normal to have a bit of self-doubt and anxiety. For Siobhan, she says that she’s worried about looking for work because she doesn’t have any experience.
“I feel like I’m…nowhere near as prepared as I should feel at the end of the degree that’s been three years. I feel like I know so much theory behind everything, but [have] no practical skills,” she says.
Siobhan, like many students, had opportunities for internships throughout her course, but felt that she wouldn’t get the most out of her experience, having had to complete it remotely and in her own time.
While you may feel like you aren’t qualified, there are ways to maximise your chances at getting an entry level role with no experience, as well as internship programs and volunteering opportunities to upskill yourself.
It’s also important to remember that most recruiters for graduate roles don’t expect you to know everything! They're more interested in seeing what you can bring to the table as well as your willingness to learn, as opposed to extensive professional experience on your resume.
Graduate programs also typically provide learning and development opportunities, including job rotations. According to the 2022 AAGE Graduate Survey Report, almost 70 percent of graduates completed rotations in their graduate program, and 80 percent of those people said it was useful. So your learning doesn’t stop at university!
4. What to look for in your first graduate role
When I asked students if they feel pressured to get a job right away, the most common response I got was “I feel pressured to start making money”.
As a new graduate, you can expect to be making around $68,000 depending on what industry you’re entering. And while the prospect of getting paid for your work is exciting, there are other factors you might want to consider when looking for graduate positions.
One thing to keep in mind is what opportunities there are for career progression, as well as the quality of training and development offered, which most candidates are looking for when applying for graduate roles.
You might also want to consider what work the role entails, and whether it’s something you’re actually interested in. While progressing through the professional ranks might seem like the most logical priority, it’s okay to be a little picky: you can still advance your career whilst pursuing something meaningful to you.
5. What if I make a mistake?
The fear of making a mistake at a new job is common. But we all make them, and employers are usually understanding when you make mistakes early in your career. Chances are, they made the same mistakes as you when they first started out! The important thing is that you learn from them.
Marcus Beeck, set to graduate with a Bachelor of Media and Communications next year, says he’s worried about “messing up”, but his attitude is one I think everyone should aspire towards.
“I’m not really too worried about that because I think I’m still young and I’m still learning, so I think even if I make mistakes, it’s not the end of the world,” Marcus says.
He adds that he simply wants a job after moving from Perth to Melbourne to pursue his dream of being a sports journalist.
No matter what’s on your mind, you should be proud of yourself. Whether you’ve reached your final year or have already graduated, it’s taken a lot of perseverance to get to where you are now. So take a moment to pat yourself on the back as you prepare yourself for the next part of your professional journey!
About The Author
Clareese is a final year journalism student at La Trobe University working to publish a range of topical articles with GradConnection. She also writes for online magazines The Fizzz and Upstart and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and the 2022 Youth Press Gallery.