What can I expect from life after graduation?

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Answered by: Gabrielle, An Expert in the After Graduation Category
This is a difficult question to answer. Throughout my time at university, even before, graduation was an event synonymous with notions of success. In reality, graduating unleashed a heady blend of emotions. Of course success featured prominently, but there was also an underlying anxiety to that success. Is this as good as it gets? What if I can't find a job? What if my degree goes to waste? This can be particularly true if, like me, you were the first in your family to attend university. The pride exhibited by your family is motivating, but the expectations to succeed can leave you feeling smothered and overwhelmed. I'm certain there are some lucky graduates who had promising internships and entry level jobs lined up the minute they handed in their dissertations; but that isn't normal. As routine as those pangs of teenage angst, feeling that you are disorientated, off-track, and even a failure are almost fundamental stages in life after graduation. I can tell you this because I, too, am aboard the post-graduate, what-do-I-do-now ship.

I graduated, with honors, from my BA in English and American Literature in June 2016. Three months later I was on a flight to Switzerland to begin my gap year as an Au pair. I loved my time in education, but I was desperate for a change of scenery. I wanted to travel, learn another language, gain some new experiences, to simply take a break from formal education before returning to pursue my MA. That was over a year ago. I am still in Switzerland, I have no MA and I have no plans in the near future to start one. I'm still an Au pair. Despite this, by pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, the past year has been the busiest, most challenging and rewarding year of my life - so far. I have lived in two cantons, I have visited seventeen different cities across five different countries, I can speak - albeit rather basic - German, I have made friends from all over the world, I have fallen in love, hiked mountains, helped raise a new born, and mastered driving on the right. After graduation I expected a stable job, a decent income. I never expected this.

I am in the same boat as you, but I can't tell you exactly what to expect; life is too unpredictable and yes, that is worrying. I can tell you to take your time. Explore yourself, explore the world around you. Do something new, re-invent yourself. Reviewing my first year post graduation has opened my eyes to what I can achieve, what success means outside of work or education. I don't need to be earning a graduate salary to feel proud of the life I am building. Of course, there a days when I feel frustrated, even disappointing. This doesn't last forever, but it is important to remember that social media is not your friend on these days. Remember to switch off, the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Life after graduation should make you nervous - after all, your life is just beginning - but take every day as it comes, safe in the knowledge that there is no required reading.

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