World Mental Health Day: three ULMS graduates share their reflections on the transition from student to recent graduate

Posted on: 10 October 2022 by Hannah Norris, alumna and ULMS Alumni Engagement Officer in 2022

Graduates Adam, Selina and Munirat share their advice

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This is a chance to talk about mental health, how we need to look after it and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling. We know that the transition from student to recent graduate can be a challenging time. Here’s what helped graduates Adam, Selina and Munirat, along with their thoughts on work-life balance. Thank you for sharing!

This article features alumni sharing what has worked for them individually, it does not contain advice from qualified sources. We recognise that what has worked for one person may not work for another but we are keen to open up more conversations about mental health.

Adam Day (BA Business Economics with a Year in Industry 2020), Analyst at the Bank of England

Adam: “Jumping into the world of work after you graduate can be incredibly exciting for many. It’s the end of an era of sleeping in on weekdays and Monday nights at the Raz, but the start of a new chapter of your life. It’s important of course to make a good impression as you begin work, but I feel it’s easy to overcommit to your first job to begin with. Society idolises a ‘hustle’ culture, where you’re expected to ‘grind’ from early in the morning until late at night, and some equate success with hours worked. That is a dangerous approach, especially when you are young and perhaps finding your feet in a new city and finding a new social circle. It’s important to find a routine that works for you so that you can balance work and life, and not let work dominate your life. Work to live, don’t live to work.

During these first steps into working life I think it’s important to take every opportunity you can and don’t shy away. If there are social events at work, go to them. If there are opportunities outside your normal job, give them a try. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with colleagues and network. If you’re on a grad scheme, keep in touch with your fellow grads, go for lunch or drinks together, and make friends! It can be a surprisingly lonely time as your peers all start work and move around too, so try not to isolate yourself. And crucially, learn about the wellbeing offering at your place of work and your community before you need it. Register at your local GP as soon as you move too. It’s an exciting, stressful time and it might not be easy, but pace yourself, take opportunities, and reach out for help if you need it and you’ll make a great start to your career.”

Selina Suri (BA Business Economics with a Year in Industry 2017), Delivery Project Manager at Network Rail

Selina: “What has helped with my mental health in general is to talk, journal and take life at my own pace. Straight after uni I was really lucky and got a grad scheme but I know a lot of my friends struggled and I think the best thing to do is to trust the timing - everything happens for a reason, one door closes another opens so don’t compare yourself to your friends! Also, being sure that I put in the hard work so I can go to bed every night knowing I’m doing all I can to ensure my future is bright.

Work-life balance is really important and I really struggled with it this year but over the last few months I’ve been doing the following:

1) Working more regularly in the office so that I can LEAVE WORK AT WORK and not bring it into the home environment as my job is very intense and is round the clock (as I work on the railway which is open 24/7, I get lots of out of hours calls and emails).

2) Talk about mental health and work-life balance and promote it and allow the culture to be adopted - more people have the same thoughts as you than you would think.

3) Be honest with myself e.g. about what work I can and can’t take on. I’ve been understaffed and overworked and I formally wrote this down in a 121 with my manager so it’s a proactive way of showing I’m asking for help.

4) Do not compromise poor mental health for a job.

5) Work hard…a hard worker can always go to bed at night knowing they put the work in rather than messing about and feeling guilty.

Munirat Sanni (BA Business Management with a Year in Industry 2021), People Data Analytics Associate at GSK

Munirat: “One thing that helped with my mental health after leaving uni was giving myself something to look forward to. Being in a new city and starting a new job made me feel a bit lonely at times and my life just revolved around going to work. To overcome this, I started to plan to do different activities mid-week after work so that I had something to be excited about. Examples include going to the cinema, trying out a new restaurant or simply going shopping. I preferred doing this on a Wednesday as opposed to the end of the week so I didn’t have to wait a whole five days from Monday to do something that made me happy.”