How to deal with employability anxiety

Are you panicking about finding a job once you graduate? You’re not alone – and there is help available!

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Everyone worries – from everyday stresses and strains to full on panic attacks it’s something that we will all experience in our lives about many different things. But students have that one worry that creeps back time and time again – what if I can’t find a job when I leave uni?

Leaving university and finding a job is a scary thing, no matter how many employability articles you read: “I am still a year away from graduation, but unemployment is something I worry about on a daily basis,” says Madalina Ciobanu, a journalism and public relations student at the University of the West England, Bristol.

An NUS survey found that for 26% of students, graduate employment was a major trigger of mental distress. Worrying about getting a job is making many students unhappy.

It is absolutely normal to worry about your future, but it is important that you know you are not alone – your peers and classmates are probably feeling the same way! Natalie Wheeler, a counselling student, says: “It can be very scary to think about. The fear and worry of the future can make me upset and at times angry with others who have jobs – even though I know it’s not their fault.”

Sophie Blumental is a geography student at the University of Brighton and says: “Often I worry that not getting into a top 20 university will affect my chances when applying for jobs.”

The pressure can be even harder on final-year students as Gemma Naylor, a final-year English literature student at the University of East Anglia says: “It feels like having a ticking time bomb over your head – you feel like if you haven’t got something sorted for when you graduate you’re in trouble.”

Having anxieties about this are ok, but they can have an impact on your studies if you don’t address these feelings. “In my first term this year I felt so overwhelmed that I ended up not doing anything about my employability. But I’d say that’s the worst thing you can do. Being proactive really helps.”

Dr Rachel Andrew, a clinical psychologist, says: “When you feel overwhelmed by anxiety you can be frozen into inaction. So try taking a step back, maybe making a list of the things that might help you, and be sure to talk to others.”

There are lots of things you can do – why not talk to some of your friends or your course tutor? If you have a mentor scheme (like the University of Cumbria’s Cumbria Mentor scheme) you could chat to your mentor about your worries. And your University’s careers service is here to help you tackle your employment worries and woes!

Engaging with your careers service to improve your employability can really help deal with the feelings of worry about the future. We would recommend attending careers talks and events, and you could also have a go at volunteering and carrying out some work experience, which can make you feel more confident about your CV, and your future.

There is so much support and advice available to you through your student services teams, so make the most of it! If your anxieties are becoming serious, it’s important to seek help. Here’s a really useful booklet showing you some of the options available to you through the University’s student services: Help is at Hand

Look out for the signs of anxiety that go beyond normal worries. Beth Murphy, head of information at mental health charity Mind, says: “If you’ve been feeling anxious in a way that’s stopping you from doing the things you would normally do, if you’re not going to lectures, if you’re not socialising, and if you’ve been feeling that way for more than just a couple of bad days – that’s the point when you might want to see somebody.”

Your university’s counselling service, your GP and organisations like Nightline can help if you’re feeling really overwhelmed.

Thinking about the future and the prospect of job-hunting can be daunting, but the support is available to help you deal with the emotional and practical sides of finding a job. Don’t be afraid to seek it – because you certainly won’t be the first person coming through the door saying that you’re worried about the future.

This blog post is adapted from a guardian.com article (source)

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