Suddenly there are no more sleep-ins and all-nighters. For many new grads used to the university lifestyle, making the switch to the workplace isn’t easy.
“Initially I was excited about getting my degree, but now, at this point, I’m nervous,” said Dana Duncanson, a recent Saint Mary’s business graduate.
“You realize that all your life you’ve been going to school and everything is going to change and you suddenly have a greater amount of responsibility.”
The 22-year-old international student is job hunting and finalizing his work permit. He said it’s even more intimidating for out-of-towners like himself who don’t have any family nearby to help him make the transition.
“You have to start looking after your own finances and it’s not mommy and daddy taking care of you,” Duncanson said. “I’m nervous now and looking back on my years of school, kind of wishing I had a bit longer in school.”
These feelings of fear and anxiety are completely normal, said Saint Mary’s counsellor Donnie Jeffrey.
“It’s one of those big life stages that you move through. Most students are excited exams are over, but some are fearful so there’s a nervous excitement,” he said.
“It’s quite a stressful time of year for everybody.”
A lot of the fear comes from not being prepared. Sometimes a lack of direction and clarity of career choice can foster that fear, Jeffrey said.
Grads must also accept the workplace is going to be completely different than school.
“Understanding that it is a different lifestyle is the first, and most important thing. You can’t have MSN on your screen all day, and you can’t take an hour-and-a-half lunch when you feel like it. You are walking into, in most situations, a professional environment.”
Some students find they’re not ready for the workplace and return to university to upgrade or get another degree.
“I’ve seen students take graduate programs because they’re unsure of what to do,” Jeffrey said.
But Duncanson, from the Bahamas, is pretty sure of his plans. He said he’ll start seriously job-hunting when his work permit paperwork is finished and, after a while working, he plans to return to school to get another degree and his masters.
He said there’s something pretty big he’s looking forward to when he enters the world of work: “Making money.”