A Message to Graduates in a Post-Pandemic World

As exciting as it is to finish school, taking on the world after graduation may seem scary, especially with the current state of the world. From having to start paying off student debt to looking for a job in your desired field, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. The following tips can help a new graduate (such as a past Live Your Dream Awards recipient) navigate life after school or even help prepare girls at a younger age through Dream It, Be It on what to expect.

The magnitude of pressure faced by young graduates is an experience many of us can relate to. From managing the financial burden of lingering student debt to persevering through the disappointment of grad scheme rejections, this transitional period leaves much to be desired. But pair these struggles with the aftermath of a global pandemic and an inherently androcentric working world, and you gain a glimpse into why young female graduates in recent years feel increasingly marginalized and discouraged to achieve their career goals.

A Look Back

When it all changed. We look back and remember Zoom quiz evenings, banana bread mornings and spending more hours than we’d care to admit on TikTok and other social media. For final-year students this should have been a time of graduation ceremony arrangements, post-thesis submission celebrations and reflection on the university experience. Instead, they were faced with a near future of uncertainty and stunted opportunities.

It is easy to assume that two years later the dust has settled, with the apparent resumption of the world’s industries we can predict a smoother transition for current university students into their careers. Yet the classes of 2020 and 2021 are still navigating the aftermath of this difficult period in history. A recent study by the Institute for fiscal studies suggests that, “those graduating this year [2020] can expect to find it harder to find employment and, especially, harder to find well-paid employment than did their immediate predecessors.” So, what can young graduates do to overcome these hurdles and achieve success in a world forever changed by March 2020?

Embrace the Chaos

Easier said than done, I know. But trusting that there are still opportunities out there will encourage you to turn negatives in to positive outcomes. Take remote working for example, it is estimated that around 66% of companies globally are adopting new hybrid working models in response to the positive effect on productivity remote working caused.

This combined form of office and home working environments is becoming increasingly prevalent, so it is likely we will experience it at some point in our careers. Maybe the professional office space you had envisioned working your dream grad-role in was a little different to your dining room table at home with the company of your cat, but this is the new normal so we might as well embrace the chaos.

Relax, Take a Break

The common notion that the best graduate schemes only accept graduates who have finished their studies within the last year is enough to pressure many into feeling obliged to jump straight from student life into long, intense career paths. Additionally, there is a negative stigma around employment gaps on CVs, resulting in (on average) a 45% lower chance at securing an interview if they go unjustified. If you opted for the direct route of employment straight from university, then well done! It takes a lot of courage to commit to a specific role and pursue it from the onset of your professional life. But if this doesn’t apply to you…then also well done! Plot twist, there’s no right or wrong path.

We are conditioned to think, especially as young women, that taking a break after university can have a detrimental effect on our early career prospects and that those who choose not to, will have an advantage in competitive industries. I disagree. We are capable of so much more than we are led to believe. Combining the knowledge acquired from your studies with a year volunteering, a month spent pursing a passion project or even staying in your student job which kept you going through university, is time well spent. So, relax, take a break.

How Dream It, Be It Helps Prepare Girls for Life After School and Career Success

These feelings of being lost, unable to commit to a decision or just needing some support navigating todays challenging professional world are wide-reaching and don’t start after graduation. Almost all women can say they have experienced feelings of this sort from an early age. It’s an effect of the pressure we feel as women to make certain choices in life or to act according to the pre-established gender norms which dominate every aspect of society.

The Dream it, Be it program recognizes these struggles and works with female high school students to tackle these feelings head on. The program inspires achievable goal setting, turning failures into success and creating plans for achieving their full potential.

Having access to a service like this as a young adult would have made my own personal transition into the working world less of a daunting obstacle and more of an exciting challenge, as I’m sure is the case with many of you. Early positive influences can have immeasurable effects on the lives of women and truly allow them to turn their greatest desires into reality.

Hannah Wilson is a recent modern languages and business graduate currently working as an English teacher in Spain. She is passionate about education and working towards the goal of making education accessible and affordable for all. She is also the founder of a small business designing and selling custom footwear. She is always looking to learn and develop her awareness of global issues, in particular issues affecting women and marginalized groups.

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