From education to employment

Feeling the pressure? Three experts share their advice on coming out of uni and facing the career world


Finishing university is a massive achievement and something that you should be very proud of. However, coming out of a degree, you’re faced with a lot of pressure to succeed and find a job.

With all graduates progressing at different stages, it can be hard to accept when others advance faster than you, feeling like you’re getting left behind or not good enough. Speaking on the matter, Coventry-based mental health podcaster, Taylor James, host of The Waffle Shop Podcast, [pictured left] said:

“Firstly, you should celebrate; you’ve just completed university! You should be really proud of yourself for how far you’ve come, regardless of the result!

“You are capable of some incredible things and this is just the start of your journey. That’s something you need to remember, this is your journey.

“Comparison is the thief of joy, so comparing yourself to others is something to avoid. Don’t judge your chapter one to someone else’s chapter four. We are all going at different paces,” he adds.

“If everything starts to get a bit much and starts to affect your mental health, please reach out. There are so many platforms out there that are ready to help!

“The Samaritans are an incredible platform and are there for anything you might be facing, no matter how big or little your challenge is.”

Katie Dodd, owner of Little Happy Thoughts, a mental health focused gift brand based in Cornwall [pictured right], said:

“Living up to expectations can come from two angles: those set on you by others, but also those we set on ourselves. Both can make things feel very stressful and maybe even conflicting.

“It is important to remember that expectations are not necessarily reality; you may be expected to achieve something because of past results, but since those past results you may have had some tough life events to deal with.

“Anxiety, depression, whatever it is, these are valid reasons to be struggling and we cannot always be perfect. We can only simply do our best and by reminding yourself of this it reminds us that we are only human.

“The truth is that you are already succeeding just by being. By doing what you have already done.

“There is no measure of “success” – we often define our own success and set our standards so high. It is important to remember the things we have achieved to date – not just those to still come. 

She adds that when dealing with mental health issues, “it is very important to tell someone. Don’t think you can pull yourself out if it or that you will be burdening someone.

“Keeping everything inside amplifies it; anxiety and frustration ramp up and you can very quickly find yourself in an even darker place.” 

“It’s just important to do things one step at a time and remember that you have not failed in anyway. We all need help sometimes.”

Speaking from an employer’s perspective, Zoe Sinclair, director of Employees Matter, a company focusing on supporting employees in the context of their work/life balance, said,

“To maximise opportunities for graduates, employers can be pro-active and go straight to students. Many workplaces offer internships and summer programmes, successfully integrating mental wellbeing webinars into the weekly or monthly programmes.  Again, being proactive, showing the students that they care and giving them tools to manage mental health themselves.

“I would go as far as saying mental health is the number one priority on the workplace agenda at the moment.  From ‘post-lockdown’ anxiety about returning to the office, managing the real-life demands of long-term remote working, or even navigating a hybrid work model, employees may experience a variety of new challenges that impact their wellbeing in the coming months.

“Students too have had a very difficult 18 months, so will come into the workplace with their own concerns.”

She adds that having confidence in finding a career after education, “comes down to the workplace.

“You have to be confident in who you are starting work with. You should not be afraid to ask questions and to request a WRAP – a wellbeing recovery action plan.

“This is a way of monitoring wellness, times of being less well and times when experiences are uncomfortable and distressing. It also includes details of how an individual would like others to support them at these different times.”

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