University is hard.
Piles and piles of readings to do all day errday alongside extracurricular/hall activities. Being confused in lectures. Cramming furiously before finals. Tearing your hair out over final year projects…and feeling confused when it all nears an end.
We feel you.
The best part? When you graduate, yet another challenge will await you in the form of working life and unavoidable obligations: bills, for instance.
Adulthood is just hard, period.
If the thought of leaving school and facing what’s after gives you the shivers, don’t worry! It’s normal to be uncertain even if it does feel, sometimes, that everyone else but you has it sorted. To help you, we’ve put together a checklist of things that need sorting with resources to help (the links).
If you find that a point is applicable, put it down on your mental/physical to-do lists and it might ease some pressure down the line!
Table of Contents
- Are further studies in the pipeline?
- If you’re ready to work, do you know what exactly careers are available to you?
- Have you acquired skills that will make you future-proof?
- Are you interview-ready?
- Can you cook?
- Have you thought about how to handle your finances (budgeting, insurance, prep for retirement,etc)?
- Are you being social?
- Have you achieved all you set out to do in Uni?
Are further studies in the pipeline?
More and more uni students are choosing to do PhDs and Masters – SMU, for example, has seen this group steadily increase since 2001, increasing by 16% last year. In NUS, the ranks of post-grad students has swelled by 10% to 3,400.
Are you one of the few? If you’ve yet entertained the possibility but remain unsure, head down to university fairs to scope out the schools (local? private? overseas?) and courses available to you. Also ask yourself these questions:
- Am I furthering my studies because it will value-add in some way? (Furthering my passions, prospects, and so on)
- Am I able to handle the costs and do I know what financial assistance, if any, is available to me?
- Am I ready for the increased workload and stress that further studies could bring me?
If the answers to these questions are yes and you’ve put in long and careful thought, go for it and do your best!
If you’re ready to work, do you know what exactly careers are available to you?
Have you narrowed down some fields that you think you’d like to work in, or at least explore? Or are you still open to any field that your skills will be put to use in? Go to a few career fairs just to reaffirm your opinions and also to observe the job landscape in general!
(Here are some of the highest paid jobs you can possibly consider!)
Have you acquired skills that will make you future-proof?
This is a very real concern. Today, change is the only constant, and many job and roles are being rewritten because of changing needs and technology. For Singapore, a relevant example is the Smart Nation Initiative. What makes up an industry standard today, can be something entirely different tomorrow: just look at Uber and Grab, and their impact on the private hire industry across the world these few years.
Pick up skills that are transferable across industries and in demand right now, along with hobbies and interests for rest and relaxation – don’t discredit them, as they could help you improve your soft skills and even inspire your future career.
One good way to pick up and refine skills is by freelancing: not only do you get to see what skills are needed in specific industries, you also get to apply them and produce tangible work while earning a bit of money to boot. For those keen on exploring this avenue, here is a list.
Are you interview-ready?
Do you have a few outfits for interviews already lying in your wardrobe? If you do, you’re good to go! If you don’t, it’s never too early to start getting an outfit or two together for future use.
This way, you won’t catch yourself unprepared and panicked if you end up in a situation where the interview is scheduled so quickly that you barely enough time to practice for it, let alone find the perfect attire.
Different industries have different clothing and attire styles/requirements so if you’re unsure, it’s best to consult your seniors or advisors from your school’s career office.
Also, you will discover another best friend (part from Google)! Many jobs are unadvertised with recruiters finding potential candidates through LinkedIn, so do cover all grounds by creating a profile.
Can you cook (somewhat)?
Working life can get really busy, especially if you are in a job that requires you to be on the go all the time. In the midst of all that hectic frenzy, you might find it hard to squeeze in time for a proper meal – maybe skipping food altogether.
Your body will be deprived of the nutrients and energy it needs to carry you through the work week, making it easier to fall ill and feel lethargic all day. Or, sometimes, you just can’t summon up the energy to cook after the long hours.
Hawker food and takeaways exists, but some days, the taste of home cooked food is comfort for the soul.
Knowing a few basic recipes (like one dish meals) will be of much use here! If you have spare time during the weekends, consider putting together pre-made meals to take with you to lunch (saving some money in the process).
Take some time during the holidays to brush up on your cooking skills. Alternatively, if you’re 25 and above, you could use your SkillsFuture credit to sign up for cooking classes or baking classes.
Have you thought about how to handle your finances?
One of the things that fresh graduates primarily find difficult to adjust to is the responsibility that comes with their newfound financial freedom.
While you’ll now have a stronger spending ability, your expenses, too, increase accordingly. There are now bills to pay, items to budget for (future homes, for instance), and future(s) to plan. All these can be a big headache because where do you even begin?
Start, if you haven’t, by using a budgeting app! Easy, free-to-use ones, like Monny (iOS, Android) help you better understand your needs and wants. You can also input recurring monthly expenses, so you won’t overspend and find yourself having insufficient funds left to pay important bills.
Another concern are insurance policies. Fresh grads are often flummoxed by the products available and what best suits their needs. Is a term plan better? Or a life one? If you can find the time, read up on what these terms mean! Don’t wait too long post-graduation, as insurance premiums increase with age.
One other concern is credit cards: are they are necessary? You don’t need many, but having at least one (that fits YOUR needs) will help you save money in the form of cash backs and perks.
Keep your eyes peeled when you pass by banks or ads; there’s no harm reading up about them right now. Alternatively you can sign up for lower risk, student credit cards first.
(According to a survey done by Nielsen in 2016, 1 in 3 working Singaporean adults aged 25-59 have not started preparing for their retirement; 65% of current retirees do not believe their savings will last them through the years. While still decades away, this is a very legit issue you should start thinking about as well!)
Are you socializing?
One of the things that helps a lot in your future career is networking, but you’ll get to that eventually! One of the realistic problems that arises after you start working is the lack of time – and energy – for social activities. Most times, you and your fellow working friends will have a tacit understanding that meet-ups end by 930pm because work awaits.
Sad, but true.
Make yourself meet new people over lunch by using apps such as Coffee meets Bagel! Or use dating apps if you’re single and ready to mingle. Many studies have found that a vital key to satisfaction and happiness is having good social relationships so get out there and meet your closest ones when you can, even if you really feel like doing nothing but going home to unwind.
Have you achieved all you set out to do in Uni?
Last but not least, is there anything you’ve put off doing, or thought you should do? Don’t wait and get to it now!
Hear it from the seniors that have already graduated: there are many opportunities and chances to try new things in uni that are precious but go neglected until it’s too late. Don’t end up being one of those wistfully saying “I wish…” Remember: carpe diem, seize the day and do everything you should within the 3-4 years you’re given!
Adulting is hard and can be awfully daunting because of the endless possibilities in store. No longer do we have the familiar environment of routines and school to shelter and nurture us; even with friends and family beside you, you might still feel very lost and alone.
Have faith in yourself, if that’s so! You’ve made it through university and times when you thought you couldn’t possibly get through what you were facing.
Digital Senior wishes you luck and courage. Do leave us a comment if you have any queries that we can assist with!
If you are a seasoned grad with advice that we’ve missed out do leave us a comment below as well, so we can better help our juniors!