Realisation, meltdowns and not having a plan: Meet the 2020 graduate

Here are the five stages only a 2020 graduate will (painfully) experience

It’s the question that all graduates face whether they like it or not: “So, what are your plans now you’ve graduated?”  And, quite honestly, I’m yet to find a graduate that can answer this question whole-heartedly.

When it comes to my personal answer, I like to quote the trusty Friends episode, where Phoebe responds to that question with “I don’t even have a pla-” which is a major 2020 graduate mood.


There are many stages the 2020 graduate has been through already and I’m sure there are many more to come. Graduating into a world bursting with ex-students just like you is already a nerve-racking notion, but for our year group the world just had to add a pandemic into the mix. Trying not to forget that we are the year of no-exam examinees and no-graduation graduates, we’ve been thrown into the unknown without any guidance. Many of us work 40-hour weeks, some are volunteering or interning, and some of us are just getting along day by day trying to figure out why they even went to uni in the first place.

Agreeing these are all mutual feelings amongst our unlucky year group, here’s a list of the five painful stages the 2020 graduate will inevitably experience:

 1. The Realisation

As if graduating isn’t daunting enough, imagine knowing in first year that you wouldn’t be getting your graduation pic and making your family sit through the entire ceremony in 2020? Yeah, it sucks. So once that cry-fest is out of the way, the realisation that you are in fact a graduate (even without the cap and gown *cries again*) hits. Then, shortly and painfully after, you’re hit with the fact that you do need to find a job and you aren’t allowed to be in ‘have only just finished uni’ limbo forever. This is already so fun, isn’t it?

… if only.

2. The ‘who even am I?’ stage

So, as pleasant as the realisation stage was, we move on. You’d think after at least three years at uni you would have an idea of what profession you’re suited to. If you’re anything like me, I feel I am most suited to being a student. Forever. Thankfully the internet provides some incredibly trustworthy and legit questionnaires that tell you what career you should be in, and thanks to mine, I am supposedly meant to be going back to uni to study Ancient History which couldn’t be more inaccurate if they tried. Not helpful whatsoever, seriously.

Maybe if I keep writing lists I’ll feel productive, right?

3. Throwing yourself in and hoping for the best

Whether it’s working in a field semi-related to your degree (I spent 60% of my uni days making coffee so I’m prepared for anything), moving to a big city, sending CV after CV, or a combination of all of these and more, sometimes throwing yourself in is the only way to feel better about being a 2020 graduate. We all at some point have asked the question “How many gap years are you realistically allowed to have?” We have also felt the urge to do a Donna and fashion a runner to Greece Mamma Mia style. Hang in there, one of the 12,403 applications has to succeed…right?

4. “…So, what IS the plan then?”

Reading these stages is almost as collar tightening as hearing it, I know. No judgment here though, you can avoid it forever when you’re not being asked by a successful relative at a party over a rather awkward (fifth) glass of prosecco. I think I vouch for most, if not all, graduates when I say… give us a break. We’re getting there. One questionnaire at a time.

 5. We actually miss our old, more fun, selves

This is a big one for me. Alongside the questions, questionnaires, and CV sending there is actually an ex-student inside probably really missing their housemates and the life they lived for three years. Nostalgia is not always fun, especially for the graduate who will quite often find themselves missing things they never thought they would. Seriously, I’ve actually considered asking my Mum to steal all my washing powder, you know, just for effect. Suddenly the Cava shots on a Tuesday, Maccies at 5 am and six lectures a week girl is gone, and I’m expected to what… join the real world?

Actually, sod it. Alexa, book me a flight to Greece, please.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

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• Just because I’m not doing a ‘traditional course’, doesn’t mean my degree is worthless

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