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  • Aaliyah Iona

The Trials and Tribulations of a Graduate

"Settling” [...] to accept something based on the thought process that it is your only option."

I’ve grown up under no illusions that life will not be easy and things won’t be handed to me. However, the biggest lesson I learnt since graduating was it is a lot easier to settle then it is to fight for or create your own success. Furthermore, it is essential to be patient with your rate of personal growth. Anyone who knows me personally will know I am passionate about the concept of not settling. Whether that be in relationships or professional careers, I think it’s imperative to remember your worth. When I refer to “settling”, I mean to accept something based on the thought process that it is your only option. There are options and it is important to dwell less on how difficult it will be or how long it will take.

Post Graduate Blues

The day of my Graduation was by far the proudest day of my life. Although, shortly after I remember feeling overwhelmed with questions from friends and family about what is it I was going to do next, as if jobs were lined up for you having graduated. I also remember comparing my finances to my friends who hadn’t attended University and feeling anxious as I felt considerably “behind”. I remember seeing an article on Post-graduate depression / Post-graduate blues prior to graduating and I thought, “Surely not”. But, when the hardship of seeking employment within the industry I wanted became my reality, I became aware it was very much a real thing. While I’m not able to say I was depressed, I could relate and empathised with people who had experienced such depression. In typical Aaliyah tradition, I hid my fears with humour and depended on being dismissive, but in reality I was panicking. Seven months down the line, I'm in a better job and I'm optimistic. It's a stepping stone. What I really want to stress is, today's struggles are not your final destination. As tempting as it is, don't compare your situation to others and instead channel your energy towards creating your own image of “success”.

There is hope and lessons to be learnt...

It's important you give yourself enough time to search for jobs and internships, apply AND experience delays. By preparing for things to not necessarily go the exact way you would like, you are allowing yourself to be less disappointed. I’m not promising that if you search for opportunities before you graduate you will get a job by the time you graduate. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to establish your plan of action in advance. Internships are great opportunities to learn and network. You may see unpaid opportunities and think, "No way," but don't shoot them down. At the very least they should be able to cover lunch and travel. Secondly, it is experience. Absorb as much information as possible and be memorable, give them a reason to want to keep you. Even if they can't offer you something right away, they may be inclined to do so later on. During my final year, I had an internship with a company whom I hoped I could work for after I graduated, however, the CEO's decision to go AWOL mid-internship threw me off. Following that I stopped applying for internships all together, but I shouldn't have. It was a lesson: not to be that unorganised, CEO or not. Finally, speak up! Ask for help and speak with people. The most valuable information I've received hasn't been from my closest circle.

"Opportunities simply aren't dangling from the ceiling like a piñata!"

I'm writing about this because I'm currently living it and by writing about it, I think of this blog as a reminder for myself. When things get tough please please persevere. See every "disappointment" as an opportunity to learn. I have been as extra as attending interviews for positions I knew I had no real interest in, with the intention of using it as practice. I considered the answers that they responded well to and those they didn’t. It provided me with a lot of ease honestly and in the end I felt prepared. If you have no real interviews to attend, ask a friend or parent to interview you instead. If you’re currently employed whether it be your dream job or not, ask your manager what they look for in interviews. Ask your family/friends to look over you CV and Cover Letters, ask what's missing. Learn how to stand out in the right way.

Finally, just keep in mind why you decided to attend University in the first place and/or your aspirations. It’s imperative to continue to keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and remain passionate. Remember the goal/dream and don't lose sight of it. Its easy to do given how quick time flies, but, keep pushing. Don't get stuck in that job you took to "get you by" - it's so easily done. Unless that job is truly stimulating and within a field you would be happy to progress in, don't get complacent. If your interests change, that's okay too - reassess and proceed forward. Opportunities simply aren't dangling from the ceiling like a piñata, you have to either go and get them or create your own. After all, life is too short and too precious to spend it living in fear of failure or unhappy.

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