How to prepare for change as a final year student

Careers Consultant, Vicky Ransley

As we approach the summer vacation, many Final Year students will be coming to the end of their time at Surrey and about to make the transition to employment.  You may be progressing on to further study or taking time out for travel/other projects.  Either way, it is likely to be a transition period for lots of students. 

If that’s you, how are you feeling about it?  Excited, nervous, scared, under pressure, apprehensive?  All of these are normal emotions, so remember to be kind to yourself over the coming months.  Here are some tips and thoughts to help you on your way…

The real picture

It may feel like everyone you know has something lined up for when they graduate, but many graduates take some time to find their first ‘proper’ job out of university.  Most students do not start work on a graduate scheme (just over 10% do) and average starting salaries are less than £25,000. 

Many work in part-time or temporary roles whilst they secure their first graduate-level post… and all of this is OK!  It may be better for your long-term career to take the time you need to secure your preferred role (or a job closely aligned to that role), or even to fully consider/finalise what you would like to do.

A new environment   

Leaving university could mean moving away from your friends, perhaps losing touch with some of them, and facing new and unfamiliar places or routines.  You might feel a shift in your own sense of identify – you’re no longer a student (which you may have been continuously since you started primary school). 

Perhaps you’re moving back to the family home which might feel strange after the independence you’ve had at university. 

Change is a process

Most changes or transitions take time to play out – after an initial phase of excitement, there is usually a period of uncertainly and even a dip in mood before an individual becomes used to their altered circumstance, comfortable and happy with their new situation. 

You may have heard of the ‘Change Curve’ or Cycle, which illustrates this in detail: With many changes ahead, not only with leaving university but throughout your future career, how can you prepare yourself? 

Remember how you’ve coped with change before

You’ve already handled many changes in the past – starting each new year at school, moving on to college, sixth form or high school, and of course moving to university which could have involved moving away from home as well.

All these changes brought new people, routines and environments, and you coped with them.  Some of these transitions may have been challenging, but perhaps you can learn from these periods.  Is there anything you would do differently next time? 

Either way, you will have built up your resilience and ability to cope with change, even if you haven’t recognised this yet.  In the last few years, everyone has had to deal with a global pandemic, adapting and finding news ways of coping with changes to education, home life and social life… and all of these were unexpected changes. 

Developing your own self-awareness is a very useful way to improve your ability to cope with change.  Similarly, trying to improve your resilience and investing time in your own wellbeing can help. 

Share your experience

Perhaps you’re naturally good at change and thrive on the excitement of a new chapter.  Whether you think you’re good at coping or not, share your experience with family and friends. 

It always helps to share your hopes and fears about a new situation by talking about it with others.  This helps us to gain understanding as well as process the change.  Remember the Employability and Careers service is here to support you with taking that next step (and we work with you for up to three years after graduation). 

And finally, as Surrey students/graduates, remember all the excellent skills you’ve developed during your time here and try to be confident in what you have to offer.  We have every faith in you!

Keep in touch

Remember to set up your graduate account on Surrey Pathfinder so you can fully access our resources.  You can book a Careers Appointment with a Careers Consultant at any time, continue to attend our events, or access our careers information on a variety of topics.