By Lizzie Harrett
Throughout your final year I think the best motto to refer to is the infamous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy motto: DON’T PANIC. Much easier said than done, of course. It’s hard not to freak out when you have a dissertation, 4 essays and your impending doom approaching. But you can stop worrying about what you have to do with your life once you’ve tossed your graduation cap into the air. For the first time in your life there isn’t an immediate and obvious next step, but you can start to make some ball park estimations and reduce your worries about the future through a few steps.
Firstly, I think it’s important to note that most final years have absolutely no idea what they will be doing in three months, let alone in six months or one year later. And that is absolutely okay. But it’s great if you can roughly plan what you want to do. Looking at all my graduate friends and what they have done (as an ancient 24-year-old), future directions post-graduation lumps into three categories: further study, a graduate job or working a lower level job whilst saving to travel. If you’re stuck between these I would recommend visiting Cardiff’s Career Service. If you haven’t a clue what you want to do that’s absolutely fine, that’s literally what they’re here to do! Help sort out your life. They give fantastic confidential advice, and will help you consider your options much better than an anxiety-induced 3am Google search.
If you know roughly the field of work you’d like to go into, sometimes it’s not clear whether or not you’ll need a master’s degree. Again, the Careers Service can help, but I’d also recommend signing up to the website prospects.ac.uk where a simple quiz can tell you whether or not you need to spend more time studying or if you can apply for job as soon as your grades are confirmed. It’s not too late to apply for most master’s courses, but the relevant universities will have the information about applications as well as scholarships on their websites. Unfortunately, it isn’t all lumped together on one website like it was many moons ago when you sold your soul to UCAS.
There are of course monetary concerns to consider. That overdraft isn’t going to pay off itself. But once again, DON’T PANIC. Check with your bank but most offer at least a three-year interest-free overdraft on a graduate account. You also won’t need to think about paying off your student loan until the next financial year begins, in April 2018. Even then, you’ll only have to start paying it off when you’re earning £21,000.
Next is housing. Can you live with your parents, guardians or a friend post-graduation if you haven’t got a job immediately sorted? Best to double check before you take anything for granted. One friend of mine found that her bedroom had been converted to her Mum’s state of the art yoga room. I would also recommend not spending your final year housing deposit on a festival or drinking bender once it is returned. If you get a graduate job quicker than you expected, you may need to find a room in a random location anywhere in the UK.
The biggest bit of advice I can give any final year student is to allocate yourself some chill post-deadlines. It is common knowledge that final year is draining, and you will definitely need to recharge your batteries. It’s also something to look forward to. If you’re broke and it’s sunny then going camping somewhere in South Wales with pals is low budget and fun. There’s also tonnes of cheap day-event things to consider: beach days at Barry, BBQs in your back-garden and a trip to the cheapest theme park ever, Oakwood. Just know that in three months you may never have to use Harvard referencing again. And that is a beautiful thought.