Life after graduation If this is your final year of studying, you’re probably starting to get a little nervous. You’ve been dreaming of getting your degree since you first entered the campus grounds. It’s not like you didn’t enjoy being a student, but that piece of paper has been your guiding light for the last few years. Every test you’ve written, every assignment you’ve handed in, every early morning lecture you somehow managed to attend – it’s all been to get to the finish line. And now you’re almost there and the reality is starting to set in. Your whole world is about to change. It’s only natural to be a little scared. You’re about to enter the real world without training wheels or even a helmet. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Every year, students all over the world go through the same thing. To help you prepare yourself, here are some of the things you’ll experience once you leave university.    The job search is hard work Don’t expect to get a job immediately. Rather, expect to be unemployed, at least for a little while. Very few people find employment straight after graduation. For one thing, there are many candidates and only a few junior positions and internships available. For another, the hiring process takes some time. Potential employers have to sift through countless applications, put together a shortlist and then organise interviews. And these positions don’t always open up right away. Basically, you’re going to need to put in a lot of effort. Apply to any and every job you qualify for. You need to get your foot in the door. It’s highly likely your dream job requires experience. So, focus on getting that rather than holding out for the perfect position to become available. You should be concentrating on improving your CV. Your priorities will change The things that matter most to you right now won’t even be applicable in a year’s time. And the things you’ve never had to worry about will become your biggest concern. University is like a protective bubble that shields you from the responsibilities of adulthood. Once you leave, that bubble bursts. For example, the way you think of money will never be the same. When you’re studying, the money in your bank account is there to feed and clothe you, and whatever is left over is there for entertainment purposes. In the real world, however, your budget will become a little more complicated. You’ll need to pay for things like rent, hospital cover medical aid, car insurance and petrol. The amount on your pay cheque is never entirely yours to spend, especially since tax comes off first. Maintaining friendships won’t be as easy At varsity you see your friends regularly. You have class together, are in the same societies or sports teams and go to the same clubs or bars. It doesn’t really take much effort to keep in touch. In the real world, however, it’s a lot harder than that. It’s mainly because you’ll have less time. You’ll probably work five days a week and want to spend your evenings curled up on the couch. So your weekends are pretty much the only time you can set aside to see people. But those two days are also the only time you have to do your grocery shopping, fix things around your home and catch up on general admin. It simply becomes harder to find the time, especially when you’re not all in the same place anymore. Leaving university isn’t going to be easy. And the real world will seem terrifying at first. But, once you get the hang of it, you’ll realise it can be truly amazing. Image: Pexels

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