When it’s 1am and you’ve had too many coffees, too many toasties from Panizi and you’re tapping away at your politics essay, graduation feels like a distant dream. Slowly but surely, every presentation, essay, report and participation mark add up and you’ve finally completed your degree. But there’s a few things that no one tells you about that magical moment you’ve been dreaming of. As someone who’s finished two degrees and is still trying to figure it all out, here are the things that no one tells you about finishing uni.
There’s no minions hiding in your laptop ready to celebrate the moment you hit submit on your final assignment
I remember submitting my last every essay. I was sitting in one of the computer labs in building 17. I pressed submit, took a deep breath, then looked around. Where were the balloons, sparklers and celebrations? I thought the day I submitted my Honours thesis, people around me would break into song and dance. Yet you’re sharply reminded that life goes on, people will continue to nap in South Wing, and sadly, it’s just another day (but for your – a really successful day).
Meeting new people becomes a lot more difficult
I never would have thought that those people I did a group assignment with in my first year would turn out to be my best friends, even now. And I never would have thought I’d still be in touch with the French exchange students I met through the French society. Whilst I like to consider myself a social person, it’s pretty difficult to meet new people once you’ve finished uni. In the professional world, there’s no lunch time uni bar sessions, no starting at 11 after a night out at the Illa, no awkward ice breakers with 25 other students in your class. But one thing uni taught me, is that new friends come from very unexpected places, you just have to make the effort.
What do you call yourself now?
After several years of putting ‘student’ on forms and applications under ‘career,’ you’re now a bit stuck. The most unique species of uni graduate are those who know exactly what they’re doing. This usually applied to those who studied teaching, nursing or engineering, they’re going to be a teacher, nurse or engineer. But what do you become when you study Communications and Media? International Studies? Arts? The beauty, and also the curse, is that there’s no one career for you, and no single career you can put on that form. The best thing about becoming a ‘communicationist’ or ‘international studies person’ is that you can be whatever you want to be.
Comparison-itis is not useful at all
When you finish uni and move in to the real world, and you don’t really know what you’re doing, you will find yourself looking around at your peers and freaking out a little. One of them has a grad position at a big corporation, one’s moving to Spain to teach English, one’s doing a Master’s degree, one’s moving to Melbourne and one’s getting married and starting their own business. Yep, there’s a lot of talented people graduating from UOW. And you’re one of them, even if you don’t have a plan or have it quite figured out, it’s important to stop comparing yourself to others and know that you’re on your own path. Chances are, your peers are looking at your achievements and questioning their own as well.
Fake it til you make it
After several years of being a student, adjusting to life without timetables, tutorials, research projects and Friday afternoons at the unibar, it’s pretty normal to be feeling a bit lost. At the end of the day, people everywhere are faking it til they make it. I’m lucky I’m working in a role that I enjoy, with people who are kind, supportive and inspiring. Am I in my dream job? Not yet. Am I changing the world? Not quite. But am I enjoying the ride? Absolutely! It’s scary and overwhelming finishing uni, always second guessing whether you’re ready, capable or if it’s right for you, but as the saying goes, fake it til you make it!
The thing no one tells you about uni, is that uni is truly a special time in people’s lives. If you belong to the UOW alumni group, we’re some of the lucky people in this world, to obtain a tertiary education at one of Australia’s finest institutions, and privileged to pursue further education. So when you get to wear that royal blue cap and gown, know that you’re leaving something amazing, but you’re more than prepared and capable of moving into the big wide world. Because one day, you won’t have to fake it anymore!