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?

  • This is all brilliant advice. It’s been about 5 years since I graduated but I still remember the utter panic of “what do I do now?” I love that you’ve offered such practical and realistic advice – I find it helpful even after many years as a graduate!
    Beth x

    • Thanks, Bethany 🙂

      I often forget some of my own advice, so it was nice to re-think it all for this post! Feel free to add any of your own and I’ll be sure to credit back!

      Kayleigh x

  • This sounds like some amazing advice, I am sure it is a daunting step finishing uni and wondering just what you are meant to do next.

  • Laura Dove

    What amazing advice! I remember when I graduated the panic of having to suddenly get a job and make choices which would affect my whole life! Great advice. xx

  • I think it’s been about 5 years since I graduated, I was fortunate to have a job literally days after I finished my final year and its a job in what I studied. I would say as you’ve pointed out university doesn’t prepare you for post uni and it sucks to only learn that once you’re done with university and responsibilities of adults are slammed in your face.

    • Congrats on getting the job so soon after finishing! It’s a tough game to play, but I totally think it’s all worth it!

      Kayleigh x

  • Jinzo_2400

    Good common sense solutions to living a smart life. Good advice..

  • Don’t give up! I know a lot of young people who simply gave up after a few rejections… It’s not easy to shine in today’s job market so stay with it and keep going

  • KGR

    It’s funny after I’m graduated I went into a field completely different to my degree. I think uni can be a great way to prepare you and give you lots of transferable skills but it can be a struggle to find a balance once you leave!

    • Exactly! It’s crazy how different life after uni can be!

      Kayleigh x

  • So many people end up going into different fields to what they studied, I think in the modern world it’s like that. I did the same thing with my student card, then I did an online course and was able to get another one x

    • It’s handy to always have that student discount on your side haha!

      Kayleigh x

  • I worked in journalism and marketing after I graduated alongside blogging but it is true that life can often take you on a different career path. Things happen for a reason x

  • These are some great pieces of advice! Graduation can be very hard for some people, especially if they haven’t worked while still in uni. They might find themselves lost in the amount of cvs sent and the disappointments of rejection. Getting a hobby is definitely a good idea.

  • Ali

    Great tips and insights! Especially about your career possibly going in a different path to the one you imagined!

  • I really agree with giving yourself a day off, even if what you’re doing isn’t ‘work’ work, I find it’s often super helpful

    • It is and it’s also healthy for you! Gives you a chance to take a breather.

      Kayleigh x

  • Super Busy Mum

    It’s funny that when you study for your degree that you hardly ever end up doing what you thought you would be!

    • It is, but it’s so normal and I don’t think many people are aware of that!

      Kayleigh x

  • Graduate life is so difficult! I will pass this on to my sister who has just graduated : )

  • Melanie

    Fab tips here…ive graduated and post graduated so can see exactly where you are coming from. Great NUS tip :)x

  • shoshana sue

    It is amusing that you went into marketing when it is not what you studied. Life is amusing like that. You should have typed the whole passage about those rejection emails in capital letters lol, that needs to be preached to grads every second!

  • Melanie Edjourian

    It’s interesting how we don’t always end up working in the profession we have studied. Mine overlaps but I have developed skills over the years that would be beneficial in various businesses which works well for me.

  • Natasha Mairs

    These are some really useful tips. I did start to do a degree in psychology, now I am a full time blogger

  • The Mum Diaries

    Congratulations on graduating! What an achievement! My career is not what i trained for either so can totally get what you mean!

  • This is an excellent list for graduates. I am in the midst of trying to find an intern and I am surprised at the lack of information they send to me. No cover letter and nothing really pertaining to the internship. I think you have to have more than you think you need.

  • Helen Clark

    This sounds a brilliant guide for graduates. It seems like Universities could do more to help adjust to life afterwards.

  • Hungry_Healthy_Happy

    My top tip would be to read for fun after graduating. I read so many text books, I forgot about reading for enjoyment.

  • what an interesting bit of information well done , you must be so proud x

  • mummyslittlemonkey

    It was a LONG time ago that I was a graduate, but I still remember that frustration when you just want to get on with your career and the doors are slow to open. Totally agree with your ‘learn new things’ point – if there’s one bit of advice I can give it’s to keep your mind challenged, which will – in turn – help keep you motivated. x

  • Getting a hobby is a really good idea! Especially if it ends up helping in your career!

  • Katrina Downie

    I love this post I’m all about Making and saving money and you will be helping others on your situation giving them s breakdown of how to do it

  • I wish I had started saving as soon as I was done with school! These are great tips!