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As the academic year of 2020 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the past year. From the strikes to the global pandemic, it certainly has been memorable.


But as a postgrad, it’s perhaps time to start asking that very daunting question… What’s next? For most of us, PhD screams another three years of putting off the inevitable, and deep down we all know that it is time to reluctantly enter the world of adult-ing. 


As a postgrad who is currently delaying starting her dissertation, here are some of my top tips for how to go about the next few scary months and get you well on your way to becoming an adult. An ‘adu’, if you like. 


Stay calm.

Something mindblowing that the careers department told me as an undergrad was to remember that you’re not planning your whole life, just the next step. You’re just taking the next step forward in the vague direction that you can see yourself going in. And if it turns out to be the wrong turn, that’s okay, we can reverse and try something new. 


The thing that matters is that you’re moving forward, and whether you know your destiny is to be the next Michelle Obama or, you’re still stuck taking online quizzes to see what will become of you, it’s just about staying calm, and to keep trying. Keep making decisions, keep changing your mind, and keep stepping forward until you end up in your dream spot. For me, it’s in an apartment in New York (or Sydney, I’ll take that too!), and it’s writing a book. I know, likely story. 


Have confidence in yourself.

Knowing your worth, your strengths and also being aware of areas you need to work on is so important, especially when it comes to those dreaded interviews. You need to back yourself, and in order to do that, you need to throw yourself into things. Get those memorable experiences you can talk to employers about, learn loads of valuable life lessons and bring them to the table. You can offer something unique to wherever you want to work, so cherish those moments that make you more than the normal candidate, and have confidence in them. 


Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

I know, you’ve heard it many times before. But you’re never going to achieve what you want if you keep doing things you’re comfortable with and never try anything new. In order to move forward, you need to try new things, learn new things, meet new people. You may sign up to a cooking course, get talking to someone who owns her own catering company and is looking for an assistant manager, and then puff. You’re slap bang in the middle of non-comfort zone territory, and it is scary and weird but it is that step forward you wanted. You may have never been in management before but you know in your gut this is what you need to do to feel successful, to feel like you’re adulting at last. So go for it. This is a very specific example, but I hope you get the gist. 


Make the most of no longer studying.

You’re finally earning money, not gathering debt! You’re finally learning something practical and getting that life experience everyones always talking about, so enjoy that! You will miss the comforts of studying, of having nothing to worry about but your next deadline, not needing to think about any bills or bosses or colleagues but just your work and your night out. But there is so much to be enjoyed during the adult life: You get to turn off at 5pm, as you get home from work, you turn off. Brain off. You don’t need to wake up stressed that you’ve overslept the deadline or thinking about that one paragraph of your dissertation that you just can’t finish. Enjoy meeting new people, going for work drinks, and earning money! It’s a new life and it’s exciting. 


And finally, smile! 

You’ve done it! You’ve finished 4 years of studying, you’ve done every exam, you’ve smashed it out the park. You’ve got through the pandemic, the strikes, everything that university has thrown at you and you’ve come out the other side. So take a second to reflect and be proud of yourself. Sometimes, you don’t always need to rush.

Bea O'Kelly

Nottingham '20

An aspiring writer and blogger. After doing my BA in History at Bristol, a ski season and now onto a postgrad in English literature at Nottingham, I can't wait to bring my own stamp to Her Campus. I'm a food lover, feminist, and such a book nerd! I'll be writing on the features pages, so keep an eye out for my pieces and feel free to check out my blog, www.foodiesandfeminists.com !
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