Lucy shares her advice for 3rd year students going into their final semester of university, and fearing ‘what’s next?’ once they graduate.
Rewind a few years ago, I never thought that the day would come where I would be finishing my undergraduate degree, let alone starting a Masters. The past few years have been a complete whirlwind, with every plan that I've made regarding my future, falling apart when something else comes up instead.
Although I am the type of person who loves to plan and has some sort of idea what the future may hold, I've enjoyed the unexpectedness of how each year has played out for me. It has made me realise that sometimes it's better to take a step back from trying to control every aspect of your life and let fate take the lead. It has ended up allowing me to take up some of the most amazing opportunities and experiences of my life.
It can be incredibly daunting to be a 3rd year student going into the final semester. I remember feeling exactly like that last year when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do once I had finished university. I knew that I wasn't ready to leave it behind and I still had so much more to learn, but I still didn't have the faintest clue of what to do next.
It can be incredibly tempting to spend your final semester planning every aspect of your life for once you graduate, but this can be unhealthy. It can make your final few months pass so quickly without giving you chance to fully appreciate them. Although some degree of planning is needed, as you may have to send off applications or figure out what kind of career you want, you must not let it consume your final semester.
It doesn't matter if you don't have your whole life planned out. It doesn't matter if you don't know what kind of job you want or whether you want to extend your education for a little bit longer. Nobody expects you to come out of university and suddenly achieve every dream that you had originally set out to accomplish, so you shouldn't put that pressure on yourself either.
Finishing university can feel like you're finally stepping into the huge and scary adult world, where you suddenly need to grow up and get a lifetime career. Although a lot of people do jump into careers they have been working so hard for, this doesn't have to be the case for everyone.
Leaving university doesn't have to be a scary time: it can be exciting too! It's down to you to make it that way.
There is no rule book that signifies that you have to leave university and immediately start working towards your long-term career goals. Instead it can be a chance to do everything you never had the chance to do before you headed off to university. Perhaps you always wanted to take a gap year and go travelling but had never had the confidence before. Now is your time to try it! Maybe you just want to get a short-term job and experience living in another city for a year. Now is your time to try it! Or maybe you want to further your education and get a Masters in the topics that interest you most. Now is, also, the time to try it!
Whatever it is that you really want to do, you should give yourself the chance to finally experience that, completely guilt-free. Graduating from university doesn't have to be the start of that mature adult life, where you feel like you need to suddenly grow up. Instead, it can be a continuation of how you've spent your past three years at university - a time to have some fun and find out who you are as a person.
Don't let the end of university be consumed with fear and pressures to suddenly pursue the career you've been working towards. Let it be a celebration of what you have achieved and take the next few years to do the things you've always wanted to do!