My Tips for Life as a Graduate (Money, Life & Career)

Today marks the three year anniversary of the day I graduated. Since that day onward, life as a graduate trying to get a job, managing money and just life in general, hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been pretty damn stressful and has often made me think – ‘was it all worth it?’. The answer? Yes.

As a proud owner of a First Class Ba(Hons) in Photography, you may think (I know a lot of people close to me think it, even without admitting it word for word) that I’d have stepped foot into a blossoming career in the world of photography. Well my friends, you’re wrong.

Instead, I went down the road of marketing. Your question may be; ‘why?’, or perhaps, ‘how did you get a job in marketing, when you have zero qualifications or experience in the industry?’. Good question. University doesn’t always go to plan (during and after), and that’s okay. Not everyone ends up going into the field they studied, but also, not everyone gets a job within the first couple months of graduating.

From my experience, university does not fully prepare you for life as a graduate. You may have experience in budgeting already, due to student loans offering very little to get you by, but when it comes down to job applications and stepping foot into the world outside of university, life can be scary. Therefore, there are a few money, life and career tips you may want to take note of, ready for life as a graduate.Graduation


Keep renewing that student discount. As a graduate, you’re technically no longer a student. But, if you renew your NUS card the year you graduate and purchase the 3 year one, they can’t say anything! That’s 3 years worth of great discounts ready to enjoy after university. oh yeah!

Join TopCashback. I’ve brought this up so many times before when it comes to my money saving tips, but I’ll mention it again. When it comes to buying the little things like a train ticket to a job interview, renewing your phone contract, buying contents insurance for your new house share, or even buying stuff online, you will always earn cashback via retailers on TopCashback. Since 2014 when I graduated, I’ve earned around £700+ just on the likes of setting up utility bills, buying a new phone contract, insurance, train tickets and even earned a few bob on that all-important Now TV subscription – Game of Thrones isn’t going to watch itself! Signup for free here.

Start saving asap. Well duh! Yes, this one sounds so obvious, but the reason I mention it is because of this: when I started my first, full-time job after university, my first pay day was amazing. I managed to bag cheap accommodation, travel expenses were minimal and I lived right in the hub of everything. So, that first pay day I went crazy – then the next, and the one after that. That’s when plans came along where I then thought sh*t, I’ve got no savings to do any of that. Looking back, I could’ve saved hundreds and more if I hadn’t been so reckless, but I figured I had ‘all the time in the world to save as a 21 year old’. Save right from the beginning – you’ll appreciate being frugal at a later stage!


Get yourself a hobby. You may be thinking, ‘am I not supposed to be focusing on job applications, Kayleigh?’ The truth is, yes. But, the whole job application process can be tedious at the best of times and it’s best to have a hobby to help you keep calm along the way. It gives you something to turn to when job applications aren’t going to plan. It’s also something you can put on your CV in your Interests section; musical instrument, blogging (of course), or even the fact you applied to be a contestant on GBBO…

Get work experience. You’re going to find it very difficult to get a paid job pretty soon after graduating, so consider doing a couple weeks of work experience. This will build up your confidence, allow you to keep busy, plus enables you to improve on skills and build knowledge, all whilst giving you something more to add to your CV.

Consider all options. As you job hunt, you may be attracted to the salary of some jobs and think, ‘I could so totally do that’, but be realistic and consider all options. Be accepting of the fact you will most likely need to step foot into the industry as a Junior, Trainee or an assistant-of-the-assistant so to speak. Pay will be low, but it’s all manageable and all a part of the journey. Don’t be picky at this stage. You need to build up the experience and knowledge first, then you’ll find that job you once thought meh to, has now opened up lots of doors for your future.

Don’t take it personally. Oh believe me, you’ll probably cry yourself to sleep some nights over job applications – sorry to be the bearer of bad news! That dreaded email after applying to your 27th job, reading nothing more than: ‘Unfortunately, after careful consideration…blah, blah, BLAH!’. – it will get to you. Of course it will, we’re only human at the end of the day. Pick yourself back up and get back on the job hunting game!

Personalise your applications. Writing a CV and Cover Letter is boring. No doubt about it. However, you should always personalise each CV and Cover Letter to suit the job you’re applying for. Although the majority of jobs will fall into the same category, read the job descriptions carefully. Some employees look for more than just the basics of the role. Some will specify certain software, skills, amount of experience, but will also highlight qualities they’re looking for in the candidate.

Take advantage of your university. I don’t mean be a total savage. Typically, you’ll still have access to your university’s resources such as, career courses and job search databases, for up to 3 years after you graduate. This is great for getting your hands on professional CV and Cover Letter writing courses and resources, knowing about new jobs highly relevant to you and your skill set, plus lets you seek professional guidance when you need it most.


Life skills are essential. I did a post last year which shared the life skills we all need to get by. There have been times where I’ve met people and just thought, ‘how have you got by?’. I don’t mean that in a harsh way, but in a sense that their attitude and communication was appalling and they genuinely were not very nice people. Employers don’t only want someone who’s dedicated, hard working and got great skills, but they’re also looking for a candidate who can communicate well, is likeable and is easy to get on with.

Give yourself a day off. Life before a full-time job, can actually feel like a full-time job anyway. I know I spent my days searching and applying for jobs, writing my CV and applications etc. from 9-5pm daily, treating it like it was a full-time job. It was a great way for me to keep focused. However, that can be tiring and can get on top of you. So, give yourself the day off job hunting once in a while. It’ll give you and your mind a break to start fresh the following day.

Learn new things. Take this time to learn new things. Maybe you always wanted to learn how to cook a specific dish, fix something, or even wanted to learn how to knit. Whatever it may be, you should always be wanting to learn new things!



What tips do you have for life as a graduate?