What to do after finishing university

As I reached the end of my time at university, I was filled with dread at the thought of what I should do next. I’ve always had a plan until now, but life after studying is something I’ve always pushed away to the back of my mind and suddenly I found myself at the end of the road. What do I want to do next? Where should I go? How do I get there? I don’t have all the answers to these questions, and I may never will, but here are a few things that have helped me decide what to do.

Leaving university

Thinking about the future has always made me anxious. And it still does. While I was still in school I always had a plan, a road to follow. Do my exams at school, do well, get into university and get my degree. But I never thought about much past that point. I didn’t study a degree which directly led into a job (like Medicine or Law) so I had no place to start from.

Sometimes I felt like I would never find a job, or figure out what I want to do. I had been thrown into the adult world and I was fumbling around in the dark trying to find the light switch so I can see where to go next. Looking at job listings was scary – even for entry level jobs the list requirements seemed impossible for me, and I wondered how I’d ever be able to do all those things. I was even anxious applying for part-time jobs at supermarkets (none of which I got) – and writing my CV was such a stressful experience.

I actually spent a few months after university doing nothing. My excuse was that I was “taking a break”, but in reality I was just delaying thinking about my future. I didn’t want to think about being an adult, or about the responsibilities that come with it. However I knew I couldn’t avoid it forever – even though I was paralysed by fear during that time. We all have to find our “why?” – a guiding light to help us get moving. For me this was to help my family, and once I had that reason I was able to finally take the first next step.

The perfect job

What does having a job mean to you? This is a question which we should all ask ourselves when starting out on this journey. I just wanted a job to help out my family and to buy some nice things for myself. Of course I would love to do something I’m passionate about, but I didn’t know what that was yet. A job was just something I had to do to earn money – and if I could find something slightly enjoyable along the way, that would be a nice bonus.

You’re unlikely to find your perfect job from the start – if you even know what the perfect job is for you at that point. I didn’t know what my dream job would be. I still don’t know what my dream job is. With no prior working experience, I had no way to know how much I’d enjoy a certain position, so I wanted to spend as little time as possible trying to find the perfect role. Even if you know what you want to do, you can’t truly know for certain until you’ve tried it. Instead you’ll be better off just focusing on the specific requirements for the job you are looking at and thinking about if you would enjoy doing that work.

I think the best way to eventually find the perfect job for you is to experience different ones. Through doing this you’ll see what you like and what you don’t, and as you progress through your working life, you can choose jobs which align closer and closer with your preferences. It’s okay if you don’t know what to do. We can’t start at the end, so just get started where you can and you’ll eventually find your way to a job you love.

Finding your passion

So far the main thing I’ve talked about is finding a job, and that’s because for most people it will be the thing that is at the forefront of their mind after finishing their studies. But once I found a job, I had nothing else to work towards and that led me to think about the following: what do I want to do with my life?

Personally, I hope that one day I can work a job which I am passionate about, and I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting this. I haven’t been working for very long, but I already know that my job isn’t fulfilling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fortunate to have a good job which I do enjoy, but it’s not something I personally care about or find meaning in, and you may end up finding yourself in this position too.

Finding the thing we are passionate about can be really hard, but I don’t think it has to be. That’s because to start off with, I’ve already accepted that maybe I won’t ever have something I’m passionate about. That might sound confusing after what I just said before about wanting a job I’m passionate about, but I think it’s okay, if you can find meaning in other things. Although it would be great to have this one thing I really love and care about and want do as my job, I’m happy to live my life enjoying different things outside of work that give me meaning, while not being too passionate about anything in particular. I don’t currently have a passion, but I love working on my hobbies, whether that’s reading, studying Japanese or learning about managing my finances- these are the things I want to work on, and find meaning in when doing them.

I started this blog because I wanted to get back into writing, which was something I loved doing as a kid. I wanted to write about my thoughts, and share my experiences learning new things with the world. It doesn’t matter to me if no-one reads my posts, maybe no-one will ever read them, but I’m happy because I get to write and put my work out there. Is this something I’m passionate about? I don’t know yet. I just want to be consistent and keep going with this as long as I can, and who knows maybe one day this might become my passion.

Keep doing what you like or even try to give another go at what you used to like. Maybe you want to get back into reading because you loved doing it as a child, or want to finally learn how to draw – whatever it is you should explore those things again because you never know where and when you might find the thing that’s right for you. I believe that discovering your passion is all about exposing yourself to as many things as you can, trying new experiences and hobbies and keeping an open mind to the world and any opportunities that come your way. If you do this, then with just a bit of luck, you might find the thing that you want to do forever.

Figuring things out along the way

You may have noticed in this post I haven’t talked about a lot of other life goals like buying your own house or finding love. These are things you may also think about too, but the two main things that I’ve thought about a lot is getting a job and finding your passion, which is why I wanted to write about them.

Don’t worry if life feels daunting and it makes you anxious or worried thinking about what you have to do next. Take your time, and try to take small steps towards the next milestone in your life. No one has their whole life figured out, no matter how well put together people may seem from outside. We’re all trying to figure things out as we go along the way. Just thinking about your future is already a huge step, and as long as you keep trying your best I know you’ll be able to find the right path for you.

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