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Life After University: How to Stay Motivated Between School and Work

18th June 2015 Posted by: Kate Istead

YOU'VE graduated. Now what?

Unless you're one of the proactive and lucky ones, you're probably at the stage where you're looking for a job. You're in the space of "in-between" - just out of school and not quite yet at work - with a mixture of excitement that you're finally free of the shackles of your long education and a sense of adventure for what will come next. This emotion, this positive and open sense of possibility, can be short lived. Why?

When you're in school, even with the intense pressure of overwhelming amounts of work due in seemingly impossible timeframes, life can seem quite manageable. To me, this is because, for a discrete period of time, your life has a set direction and is goal-oriented. There's a scene in Finding Nemo where Dori and Marlin are entertained by the Moonfish moving into different positions to form various shapes. This isn’t just a school of fish; it's also a metaphor for school itself. At University, everyone has more or less the same goal, even if they play different roles in getting there. Yes, there’s a lot of work, but for the most part you know exactly just how much there is to do, how to get it done and when it will be over. And there are people alongside you, headed towards roughly the same destination.



The “real world”, on the other hand, can feel like a never-ending timeline of uncertainty. After graduating, life can sometimes resemble the scene with the Anglerfish in the abyss, during which Marlin and Dori have no idea where they’re headed. Occasionally there are flashes of light that give them direction and sometimes that flash turns out to be a good signpost to follow, but other times it most certainly doesn't. Likewise, you may have just graduated into the big wide world, possibly with a rough idea of where you want to go, but perhaps without any real knowledge of how to get there, what you need to do to get there or when you'll arrive. You're also rarely accompanied by others heading to the exact, same destination.

It is easy, in these times, to feel lost, anxious, alone and overwhelmed. A lot of people I know are in this abyss right now, having just graduated with lofty goals and inspiring ambitions, only to find out just how big, and difficult to navigate, the "real world" really is. Now that we've left school though, it is time to find a job. It is neither beneficial to get lost in the day dream of what could be for too long, nor succumb to the challenge of the hunt itself. (That said, both can offer short-term lessons, but the reality for most of us is that we need to get on with finding a job, in order to pay back school debts, or eat our next meal). It is therefore crucial that you make a plan for how you'll spend this "in-between" time. Set yourself some goals and make sure you work to maintain balance in your life, even while you're searching for a job. Don't let this become the one task that overwhelms your schedule, to the detriment of filling your time with other enriching activities.

Just as important as a plan is the need to maintain a positive outlook, which can be hard to do when you're faced with a growing inbox of job application rejections. It’s good to have a support system that can help buoy you when you're at risk of becoming overwhelmed by these, so here are a few of the tools that I use. These sources of inspiration help keep me moving forward whenever I find myself lost in the "in-between".

TedX Talks

Based on the premise of “ideas worth sharing”, TedX Talks cover a range of topics, presented in videos that are usually less than 18 minutes long. Speakers range from the well known to the relatively unknown, but if you’re looking to be inspired, you’re sure to find someone whose story will give you the motivation to keep going.

LinkedIn Pulse

Divided into Influencers, Channels and Publishers, Pulse is like a combination of the written scripts from the TedX Talks and Facebook. Personalize your feed to reflect your own interests and receive up-to-date news and insights from the people you admire and a few leaders you never even knew existed. 


There is a lot of nonsense on Twitter, but like any medium, there is also a lot of gold. People foray into Twitter for a variety of reasons, but some major thought leaders have accounts that provide everything from bite-sized inspirational quotes to links to resources that might actually be really useful to you. Select wisely who you follow and you can fill your Twitter feed with a wealth of motivation.

And of course, follow us for more inspiring articles!!


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