Wellbeing in the workplace

How to master the transition from university to first job

The last couple of years have been really difficult to be both a student and an employee. The job market is looking up, but as you transition between university and the workplace, how can you make sure to look after yourself?


First of all, if you are looking for mental health support, take a look at Bristol Mind’s help page.

Student to worker

If you’re entering a job for the first time ever, you might experience a big learning curve.This is nothing to be afraid of! You handled the transition from school to university, so you can absolutely do this. We have some tools on making the transition as smooth as possible. It’s also important to reflect on your experience – even if you’ve never worked in an office before, you might have done some hospitality roles or some volunteering around professional people. This experience will have helped you gain some professional behaviours that you can build on.

Looking to gain some more work experience to help you figure out what to expect of a workplace? Head to myopportunities to take a look at what’s on.

Entry-level roles

If you’re looking to start a grad scheme or enter a workplace after graduating (especially from a non-vocational degree), you’re probably starting with an entry-level role. This means you’re joining the organisation in a position where you can grow upwards once you have a foot in the door, should you choose to. Less work experience is required for these roles.


Every experience is valuable

As a new grad, give yourself time to experiment with job roles, sectors, and companies. Don’t worry too much about missed opportunities or ‘wrong’ experiences. Every experience gives you valuable skills and insight, and some opportunities will come back around. You can even try your hand at a speculative application if there’s an employer you like. Demonstrate how much you know about them and why you think you would be a good fit – you’ve got nothing to lose!

Looking for a workplace that values wellbeing

Being proactive around your wellbeing is something that starts with the job search! It can be useful to get a sense of workplace values from the job description, or after a little bit of research on an employer’s ethos and culture. You can use this information to figure out whether their values align with your own, which is a positive step for your wellbeing. Use our Careers Service guide on employers, or sites like Glassdoor to read reviews by employees.

Wellbeing in the workplace

Here are 5 things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about wellbeing in the workplace:

  1. Take breaks

You’ve heard it before – the old cliché about work/life balance… but it’s really important! Hopefully, your university experience was full of fun – maybe you joined a society, or did loads of exercise classes, or volunteered with local communities (or maybe you were a connoisseur of the Triangle clubs). Getting a job doesn’t mean your fun has to stop. Your free time is very valuable!

  1. Don’t lose your identity

Sometimes it feels like you have to adopt a new identity to fit into your workplace. This can sometimes be useful – having a separate professional and personal identity can help you disconnect from work in your free time. But it can also be good for your wellbeing to build genuine social bonds at work. You could look for a workplace that values inclusivity, or ask at interview ‘what do you do for employees?’.

  1. Reflect on what you want from a career

Some people value high pay and job security much more than making friends at work or having time to explore other interests. Though these things aren’t always mutually exclusive, it can be really useful to think about what you personally need from a job (psst! We have a guide on reflecting on careers ideas!). Some workplaces run mentor or buddy schemes, or organise meals or events.

  1. There are no closed doors

As a new graduate, you have time to figure out what you want from a career. Figuring out what keeps your wellbeing in check takes a lot of reflection, and is likely to change frequently. That’s ok! Every experience is an opportunity to learn more about yourself (as well as an opportunity to add to your CV!). If you’re feeling lost, don’t forget…

  1. We can help!

No matter what stage you’re at in your careers thinking, we can help. You can take a look at our hints and tips on wellbeing at work (deep dive into mental health at work or an overview of career wellbeing), or talk to us using our Live Chat. Finally, remember that you can still access your Careers Service for up to three years after you graduate.