From turning rejection into opportunity to identifying strengths and matching these up with a suitable role or industry, there are lots of things students and graduates can do to lessen any sense of feeling ‘forgotten’ by their university during Covid-19, says Results Strategist, Cel Amade
This past year has been tough, and the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 may not have had the same opportunities as preceding classes to gain additional skills before graduation day. In the blink of an eye everything changed. Internships, job offers, and graduation plans went out the window. These cancellations and postponements left many graduates around the world feeling overwhelmed and, in many ways, forgotten by their university.
University is a great platform to explore and strengthen our natural talents and strengths safely. The reality is – exploring one’s strengths in order to do what we love post-graduation is not an obvious choice, but it’s a crucial one if you are after personal and career fulfilment and not just ‘any job’.
When students and graduates find themselves feeling abandoned, forgotten, or let down, they often find it harder to believe that they have what it takes to achieve their graduate goals. On that note, here are seven steps that I would recommend to any students and graduates looking to combat the idea of feeling forgotten by their university and to shift their focus to ideas they can actually execute. Ideas that are within any student or graduate’s control and that can help them design their own world after graduation.
1. Forgive yourself for past mistakes, shame, blame, guilt, regret or anger
We all have our fair share of shame, blame, guilt, regret or anger. Whether it is the shame of thinking you’re not employable after graduation. The blame for getting your internship or job offer cancelled. The guilt of what you could have done while you were too immersed in your studies, busy procrastinating or the pain of regret that comes with all of the above… Even though we cannot change our past, the most valuable thing students and graduates can do for themselves is to forgive their past and understand where they are now in relation to where they want to be.
2. See rejection as an opportunity
Too often, recent graduates use someone else’s definition of success before coming to the realisation that they have been rejected for roles that had nothing to do with their strengths. And from that perspective, rejection might not feel so painful after all.
Rejection can provide graduates with the opportunity to choose a role that is more in line with their natural talents and strengths. Rejection can provide more clarity. More clarity often equates to greater confidence in knowing what value a graduate is bringing to the table. And this increased confidence lessens the idea of feeling forgotten. Rejection might even make graduates realise that they have paid little attention to what they really ‘want’. Perhaps, for example, they have been applying to big companies all along just so that they could tell themselves and others that they work for ‘a big company’.
3. Identify your strengths
When we use our natural talents and strengths, we tend to feel more engaged and productive. We feel happier and energised. We get that buzz that comes with doing what we enjoy and we feel like we are being our ‘true self’. We are not pretending to be someone we are not. A great way to identify our strengths is to think back to some of our biggest achievements and try to identify which strengths were used to achieve those great outcomes.
4. Ask for feedback
If you are having trouble identifying your strengths, ask for feedback. It would be premature to conclude you have no strengths or natural talents. Everyone is good at something… Reach out to friends, peers, university staff and colleagues that know you well and ask them to help you answer these three questions.
- When you need to ask for my help, what do you generally come to me, versus anybody else, for help with?
- What do you see as my biggest strength?
- What do you think makes me unique?
Any common themes in their responses – and that also feel right – would be a good indication of what your strengths are. Their responses will also be a reminder that your university connections have not forgotten you.
5. Exercise your strengths
The largest room in the world, is the room for improvement. Being aware of our strengths is life changing, but it’s only truly transformational when we choose to use our strengths. Once you have figured your strengths out, look for opportunities to apply those strengths. What resources does the university have? Are there any volunteering projects or partnership opportunities with student societies that would enable you to exercise your strengths?
Actively participating in leadership activities or creating new opportunities to reconnect with the university as you exercise your strengths can help combat this idea of feeling forgotten or abandoned by the university. There is boldness, genius, magic and power in recognising your strengths, using your strengths and taking strategic action towards your desired result!
6. Follow the rule of five
Match your strengths to a job type, field, or industry you would enjoy working in and get laser-focused to achieve your goal, by following the rule of five. Commit to do five (big or small) tasks every single day that bring you closer to your definition of a successful graduate life or your desired result. These five tasks could be as simple as sending five LinkedIn messages to professionals who are currently working in your dream role and which might allow you to gain insights of what their role entails on daily basis.
7. Define success in your own terms
What does a ‘successful’ graduate life look like for you? What industry or field do you wish to work in? What impact do you wish to have in the world of business and management? How do you wish to be remembered? Do you belief you can achieve it? Being able to define your own meaning of success clearly will add a sense of purpose to your life and get you one step closer to achieving it.
Cel Amade is a Results Strategist who delivers workshops and keynotes to facilitate, guide and inspire university students and graduates. Her educational YouTube content has amassed more than 433,000 views in the past year. She is committed to helping students make a smoother transition from university to graduate life and feel empowered to design their own world.