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Graduate Advice
5 min read

The Graduate Hangover: What to Expect in the First Two Years of Your Career

The first few years after college graduation are often the most difficult. This is when many graduates will find themselves struggling to find their footing in the working world.
Written by
The UK Careers Fair
Editorial Team
Published on
September 27, 2022

The first few years after college graduation are often the most difficult. This is when many graduates will find themselves struggling to find their footing in the working world. This blog post discusses what you can expect during these early years and offers tips for finding success as you work your way up from an entry-level position to something more senior.

  • The first two years of your career are the most important.

The first two years after graduating from college are often the most stressful and can set the tone for your entire career. In addition to getting used to a new role by learning how to do your job well, you will also have many other things on your mind as you transition from being a student to becoming an adult in the workforce.

The first two years will be a rollercoaster of emotions. You will experience sadness, frustration, and anger, but you should also expect happiness and even excitement for the opportunities that await.

It is important to learn how to deal with these different feelings, so they do not get in the way of your success at work. Try writing down all of your thoughts on a particular topic or issue so you can look back later on when making decisions about what comes next in your career path.

  • What you do now will determine what happens in the future.

Whatever you do now will determine what happens in the future. If you begin a job search immediately, the chances are good that your first real opportunity will be different from anything you imagined for yourself.

However, if you accept a job and make it home without even applying elsewhere, there's no chance of finding something better suited to your needs or interests! Use this time as an introspective look at where your life has been and where it might take you…and don't forget about those networking skills we discussed earlier!

In other words- start looking early so when opportunities come up, they can be taken advantage of right away! Remember: whatever you do now determines what happens next.

  • Prepare for a steep learning curve as you enter the workforce.

Preparing for the workplace is like learning to drive on a manual car; once you've mastered it, shifting gears becomes second nature.

You're going to be running around like crazy, but don't let that get in the way of your studies. Keep up with current affairs and start following some industry leaders on social media so you can see what's coming down the pike for your future career path.

Make sure to learn as much as possible about how companies are run because no matter who hires you or where they hire you from, it'll still be their company at the end of the day! Figure out best practices early so that when an opportunity presents itself later down the line, whether it's being part of something new inside your organization or being recruited by another, you'll have the knowledge needed to excel.

So many new graduates are stuck in a rut because they aren't prepared for the workplace. Most of them have no idea how to do their job, don't know what is expected from them and why it's important that they meet those expectations. This can lead to an early exit or many years of being miserable at a company where you never seem to fit in. Be prepared by learning as much as you can now, making connections, and building a network of people who support your efforts.

  • Learn to manage your time and prioritize tasks effectively

Time management and prioritizing your tasks well can be difficult in college because, for the most part, you're just doing one thing. However, when it comes to working, many different things are expected of you at once, and if you cannot manage your time effectively, then there is no way that all these things will get done. Here are some steps that I have found useful when trying to handle my time more efficiently:

- Make a schedule. As simple as this sounds, having an actual schedule to keep track of what needs to get done has been invaluable for me throughout college and into my professional career.

- Prioritize what needs to get done first. You need not feel bad about deciding something else should wait until tomorrow or even next week.

- Include 'down' time for yourself. When I first started my job, I was so stressed that it made me a miserable person to be around, even though nobody asked me to do this. Still, going out with friends helped clear my head of work thoughts at the end of the day – something we're not always lucky enough to have in college. Having downtime is essential if you want your work quality to remain high. If nothing else, remember: You need downtime just as much as you need hard work!"

- Get organized! Sometimes all it takes is one bad experience before an idea sticks with us forever…and I'm pretty sure that's how some people feel about keeping their room clean. For me, it was a bad experience with organizing my time while writing a college assignment that made me realize the importance of being organized and how much more I can get done when everything has its place.

- Make sure you want to do something before starting. The last thing anyone needs is another unfinished task on their list! If there comes the point where you're just not enjoying what you're doing, then take some time to think about whether or not this is what's best for your career path."

  • You'll have to make sacrifices at work - don't be afraid to say no if it means taking care of yourself first.

Saying no can be difficult when you're in a place of wanting to please everyone around you. After all, it's your first real job out of college and likely the first time people are looking to you for answers or direction, so saying no without having something else on deck is hard. But know that if this means taking an hour lunch break because you need some alone time with yourself after working non-stop for eight hours, then do just that! Your mental health comes before anyone at work - even though it may seem like they should come first. You will harm your mental health if you don't take time to yourself.

Setting out a plan ahead of time is a great way to combat this. If you know that you need some downtime on Tuesday's and Thursday's afternoons, then make sure those days are your "me" days at work where no one is going to bug you for anything because it won't be possible for them to get in touch with you. You might also want to try using apps or blocking off certain times each day just so people don't think they can call/text/email during those moments without getting an automated response from the app saying, "I'm currently unavailable."

  • Don't forget about self-care! Make sure you're getting enough, drinking water, and eating nutritious food.

If you are not getting enough sleep, drinking water, and eating nutritious food at this point in your life may seem like the last thing on your priority list. However, taking care of yourself is just as important now as when you were a student.

On average, adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. It can be not easy to get that much rest if you are working multiple jobs or have a family to take care of. If you're not getting enough, try going to bed earlier or setting up naps during the day (if possible). Drinking plenty will also help make sure you don't feel tired throughout the day!

Nutritious foods should also remain a staple in your diet after graduation, even though they might become harder to find.

It is important to practice self-care as soon as possible because it will be even more difficult once you start working full-time. While most people would recommend it, any activity that makes you feel good should suffice! For some individuals going outside might help them relax, whereas others find comfort in talking with friends or family. Try out different activities until you discover what works best for YOU!

Planning to apply for jobs when you’re all done with university? Check out The UK Careers Fair today! We’re the United Kingdom’s leading provider of job fairs, recruitment events and career fairs.

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