Unsure, nervous and in doubt? Good – Then you’re just like everyone else

On the threshold of the job market, it is common to react with doubts about one's own abilities. It is a decisive phase where you step out of your safe cocoon of your student days. ´Make mistakes, ask questions and doubt everything you need to,’ is the advice from IDA's career counsellor, Sanne Mattebjerg.


Welcome to a new chapter

You’re finally there. The master’s degree is in the bag, but then what? The time leading up to and just after graduation can be nerve-wracking and bring up a lot of questions: Do I know my subject well enough? Are my grades high enough? What if I can’t make the difference I want to make? How do I get the job I want – and what if I make the wrong choice? What will it be like to have a job? And is it really ok to be picky?

»It is quite normal to have all these doubts buzzing in your head. For some, they creep in during the transition between bachelor’s and master’s degree, and then of course when you are just about to be ready for the labour market,« saysSanne Mattebjerg.


Doubt helps you develop

Sanne emphasises that questioning and doubting is generally positive. Doubt is a driving force that makes us consider our options and ultimately make choices. In that way, it indirectly helps us develop as human beings, she says.
‘If we don’t doubt, it’s because we’re playing it safe. Or trying to. It’s not possible to predict the consequences of choices or decisions, and that’s an important point: you have to try things out before you realise what you like and don’t like. What you might not have thought was right for you might turn out to be just right. Go into your new work life with an open mind and try things out. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
It is also a good idea to use those in your closest network who are familiar with transitioning from studying to working life. It can be siblings and friends. Talk to those you know and ask what it was like for them.’


Am I good enough?

The most common source of anxiety among recent graduates is the fear that they are not good enough – meaning whether they have the right skills at the level needed to succeed in a job. ´Most people feel that what they’ve learnt at university doesn’t count because “it’s not really experience”,´ says Sanne. Many also attach great importance to their grades at university for their opportunities in the job market. Far more importance than is warranted.


Unemployment in the first year

As the following graphs show, unemployment in IDA-members is generally low. However, it is far from unusual to be unemployed as a newly graduated.

Everything counts

“Let’s be clear from the start: everything you learnt at university counts as competences. Others may be better than you, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have either theoretical knowledge or practical experience with a lot of methods, processes and topics. Companies know you’re a recent graduate, so they don’t expect an expert to walk through the door. And speaking of grades, good grades can give you an advantage in some cases, but you can have a good and successful working life even if you don’t have the highest grades. In short, grades just indicate that you can fulfil the criteria for a university assignment, but they don’t necessarily say anything about whether you will succeed in a job,” says Sanne.

Companies are not particularly concerned about grades. In IDA’s 2020 recruitment analysis of companies hiring graduates from among recently graduated IDA members, only 7% say that it is particularly important to emphasise your grades in your CV.


It´s good to fail

The combination of, among other things, social media’s glossy images of reality, and the fact that we are bottled up with grades as benchmarks, has fostered a zero-mistake culture that is not healthy and can create unnecessary nervousness in the individual, believes Sanne. She therefore advises all new graduates to see mistakes as useful learning instead of trying to avoid them. Because mistakes help us develop.

“We all make mistakes. View mistakes as something positive and something that makes you better. If you try something and it doesn’t work, well, you figure out why, and then you strategize and do it differently next time. The only thing that can be bad about mistakes is if you don’t learn from them.”

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