September saw us hold our annual graduation ceremony – a day of celebration and relief for most students! But what happens next? After graduation, some students get caught up in post-graduation blues and panic about what lies ahead. Until now, their lives have had structured routine. They’ve known where they need to be and what they’re working towards. And they’ve been surrounded by friends who are in the same boat.
After graduating and celebrating their achievements, being thrown into adulthood and losing that sense of familiarity is a huge and sometimes stressful transition. And October can be a particularly difficult month. That’s why we must continue to support students and remind them that they can now explore new opportunities and try things they didn’t have time for when they were still in education.
Most universities offer careers and employability guidance, and make these services available to their recent graduates because it’s a win-win. As well as helping your graduates succeed, by offering them continued support you can maintain and build a relationship with them well into the future.
These relationships can lead to new and valuable university-employer relationships, and opportunities to deliver continued professional development (CPD) programmes and workplace training.
Career support is all well and good, but students often need more than that. A survey by Student Minds found that although graduates generally felt that their university provided career support, some felt they received very little support for adjusting to the world of work. While it is important to prepare students for employability, many graduate outcome surveys are now placing emphasis on wellbeing and happiness.
So as well as careers advice and help with employability, universities could perhaps also look into offering pastoral care to graduates. Providing sessions on dealing with post university stress might give students more confidence in how to deal with what awaits them. Extending any existing welfare and counselling services to alumni for a certain time period after graduating may also ease their transition to the workplace.
Depending on their circumstances, some graduates could find the adjustment from university to the workplace more challenging. Disabled graduates and graduates with mental health problems may experience a drop in the level of support they receive, adding to an already stressful transition. Research by My Plus Students Club has also found that disabled graduates have more difficulty securing a full-time job than their non-disabled counterparts.
One way to counteract these obstacles is by inviting employers to career fairs and encouraging students to attend and demonstrate their capabilities. Universities could also learn more about the recruitment processes of organisations they have existing relationships with and give them feedback. For example, are they conducting interviews which are accessible for disabled people?
Engaging your alumni
Supporting graduates can also help you keep in touch with your alumni, and that in turn can bring new students to the university. At The London Institute of Banking & Finance our Alumni Ambassadors help us to attract people from under-represented groups into the banking and financial services industry. By sharing their experiences at events, open days, in promotional videos and marketing materials – as well as by taking part in online talks – they’re helping us to make our sector more representative of the population.
Mentoring programmes are another great way to keep in touch with alumni, who often find the mentoring experience personally rewarding as well as useful for their own career progression. Mentors give students and graduates valuable insights into working life and can help students and graduates to navigate career choices and opportunities.
We build careers advice and support into all of our programmes, throughout our students’ time with us and for our alumni. It really does pay dividends.
Hema Tank is the Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance
The London Institute of Banking & Finance is a university college offering degrees in banking and finance. It is also a registered charity and professional body, incorporated by Royal Charter.