2018 graduates: what’s your advice to 2019 graduates?

We asked some University of Bristol graduates from the class of 2018 how their first year of graduate life has been, and what advice they would give to the class of 2019?

Name: Tom Wallis
Degree: History 
Current job: Student Development Coordinator (Sport and Physical Activity)

Leaving university can feel like a monumental change, that can come with my challenges; new environments and uncertainties which make losing the comfort of your course daunting. You can overcome it, here’s the thinking I’ve been developing that has gotten me through my first year:

1. You’ve made it this far. I remember doing my GCSEs and listening to my sister talk about her degree course. Strong feelings of inadequacy mixed with a growing disbelief that I’d ever make it that far. I was wrong, I eventually made it into university and overcame that challenge, and the same goes for post uni. Every next hurdle can see impossible, until you do it!

2. Don’t fall into the competition trap. Soon after leaving uni, I noticed the language and conversation topics of my friends started to change. They became enamoured with the language of the London professional elite. Many of my friends are already out earning my parents at the peak of their career: this is hard because it isn’t a lifestyle I ascribe to and it can be tempting to compare yourself to others. Jobs, salaries, bonuses, and company holidays become social badges. Don’t let it, whatever you’re doing is justified and valid, their success doesn’t mean you’re failing.

3. There are lots of ways of existing, they’re all valid. My history degree taught me the importance of culture in shaping our ideas. I see this post uni life: it’s likely we all come from a culture which is relatively narrow in what it deems successful or appropriate life paths from uni, but in reality you can break that mould. Think about your own approach to life and your own views, there are lots of alternatives out there and they’re all valid. Don’t play by other people’s rules, you’ll come off worse. Invent your own game and excel at it.

4. Time is relative – Einstein theorised it with his ‘Theory of Special Relativity’. Post university proves it. The year immediately post university can seen monumental – not having direction for 12 months can feel like a catastrophic loss. It isn’t. We’re all young with lots of time to learn and experiment.

Name: Trinni Handley
Degree: History
Current job: Student Activities Coordinator at University of Hertfordshire

It is important to work out what your values are from the beginning and to not be afraid to stick to them. There is so much pressure to not only get a job immediately after graduating, but also to get a job with a high salary expectation – mid-£20,000s at a minimum. My main piece of advice is to work out what makes you excited, what motivates you, and what you enjoy doing. I would also ask your friends and family for their observations and opinions on what they could see you doing.

After a year working as a Graduate Teaching assistant in a boarding school where I was doing sports coaching, teaching support, and lots of fun activities, I interviewed and had a job lined up in corporate recruitment ready to start in September. I think I had convinced myself that I wanted to do it because I thought the salary was worth the commute into London for an 8-6 pm sedentary desk job.

Fortunately, I had enough support from the people around me to reflect on my values that I have always strongly held. I love being active, creative, organising events and activities. I really disliked the prospect of commuting. Why I thought I would want to do recruitment which involves ringing people up all day, every day, is beyond me! I am not a hugely money motivated person – my dream role would be something where I can contribute the most and have the most fun, not something that will earn me millions (although if there was a chance of combining the two, I would not refuse…). I fully appreciate that not everyone has this kind of personality, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything worse than starting out in the professional environment in your early twenties hating your job and living for the weekend. I dropped out of the recruitment job, interviewed immediately for a role I had found and started the new job within two weeks!

Don’t be pressured into believing that you have to be earning a certain amount so quickly. It’s far better to try different things, work out what you like and don’t like in terms of working environment, style, and management, and pursue something that you genuinely think you’ll enjoy. Life is too short to do something you hate doing!

Name: Gaby Carr
Degree: Film and Television
Current job: Junior Creative and Film Runner in Bristol

  •  Creative industries are very difficult to get into, you are going to receive rejections and have to work on things that aren’t where your heart lies. But it is also extremely rewarding when someone provides you with an opportunity to show your talent and creativity.
  • You may find yourself in a situation that you didn’t want to be in (i.e. unemployed, working a job which you’re not invested in) but you should never think you have failed or are behind. There are always people who have been through the same situation before you, and you are surrounded by people who can support you and provide you with resources and advice if you reach out.
  • Seek out opportunities, apply for positions you think are slightly out of your depth, and know your value: don’t work for free when you know a company is able to provide expenses or pay you a wage.

Don’t forget that the Careers Service is still here for you for up to three years after graduation, wherever you are in the world. Log in to mycareer for more information.