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Student survival guide: How to survive your first year out of uni

You’ve sat through the lectures, you’ve stumbled out of the uni bar. Congratulations. You’ve just made it to the starting line.

’Never try to understand the students. They hate it. They would much rather be tragically misunderstood, wallow in self-pity, stew in their own—’
‘That’s enough, Phineas,’ said Dumbledore.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Yes. It is enough, because you’ve been told it for years, haven’t you?

You say you hate classes now, but you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Your school years are the best of your life.

You can’t sleep until 3pm forever.

Well, now the time has finally arrived. You’ve finished university, and let’s be honest, you’re a little terrified, aren’t you? But there’s no need to worry. We’ve put together the definitive guide to get you through your first year out of uni.

So sit back, put the kettle on — for what will be your last bowl of Mee Goreng — and get ready for a crash course in being an adult. Welcome to the real world, you’re going to hate it.


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Go on, you deserve it. But, because you’re an, ahem, ‘adult’, you need to choose an appropriate place to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions:

New Hampton, Kings Cross

Nothing says ‘fancy’ quite like heading into Kings Cross to not go to a club. That’s right. New Hampton is the latest fine dining venue to open its doors on Bayswater Road. If you’re still on the job hunt, you don’t have to let the ‘fine’ in fine dining deter you — bar dishes start from $7, and they offer a three-plate deal for $20. Hey, just because you’ve left uni doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate a bargain.

Check out our review on New Hampton here.

Mr Tipply’s, Sydney

Having just opened its doors in what used to be the three-level City Hotel, Mr Tipply’s is sure to become your new favourite watering hole. The crowd is your usual corporate-turned-rowdy drinkers as soon as the clock hits 5pm, or a little earlier on Fridays, and now that you’ve left your student life behind, you too can partake in the famed after-work drinks. Just don’t embarrass yourself in front of the boss.

Find a job, ya bum

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Easier said than done right? Well, not necessarily. With the Internet at your fingertips, and let’s face it, plenty of time on your hands, you’ve got the tools at your disposal to put in the hard yards.

Step one: Spruce up your resume

You would have heard this before, and you’ll probably hear it again, but your resume is the first thing standing between you and a job. There are thousands of free guides online that you can use to write your resume, or you can use a template.

People who receive these resumes have usually seen hundreds, and they’ll be able to tell how much effort you’ve put in. There is no one correct way to write your resume, so you’ve just got to make sure it shows you in the best light possible. Use the resources at your disposal to make sure your resume is of a high quality.

Step two: Be vigilant

There is nothing wrong with scrolling through job sites all day. You hear that? Nothing. Because that’s what thousands of other graduates are doing as well. It’s always better to get in quick when positions open up, because even though companies may advertise a job for two weeks, they might have already started interviewing and filled the position before the first week is up.

Step three: Nail the interview

When you do land an interview, be prepared. Do what you need to do to make sure you get hired. Print off a few copies of your resume, research the company, look up interview questions and practice answering them. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you will feel, and the more impressed the interviewer will be.

Learn to manage your money for when you get some


You’ve probably spent your last few years working for peanuts, relying heavily on student discounts and scoffing at non-home brand products at the supermarket. Or, if you didn’t, you probably weren’t much better off.

Uni life is tough, and you get used to having no money. So when you finally do get a job, and a salary, you might feel a little overwhelmed and not know how to manage your newly-found funds properly. Note how we said MANAGE, not SPEND, we know you’ll have no problems doing that.

So when you finally do find that golden ticket, aka, a graduate job, here is a quick crash course in two of the key financial basics that will help you get through your first year.

Bank accounts

The two main bank accounts you’ll need to worry about are your transaction account, which you probably already have, and your savings account. If you don’t have a savings account, then you might want to look at opening one. You can compare a range of High Interest Savings Accounts (HISAs), or even term deposits if you’ve already got some money saved, and find the best option for you. By starting to save now you can develop good financial habits, and you can also set yourself up for your future.

HISAs work by crediting your account with interest that is calculated based on the balance you have in your account. The more money you have in there, the more interest you earn. Some accounts offer introductory bonus interest that can get your savings off to a flying-start. You might also want to consider a savings account linked to your transaction account for easy-transferring. Although, you don’t want to make it too easy — we all know how financially responsible we are at 3am and your savings are just a quick transfer away…

Credit cards

Some banks offer student credit cards that have perks like discounted rates or reduced fees. But now that you’re no longer a student, you won’t have access to these cards. If you find yourself in a stable financial situation and are looking at a credit card, then you can compare your options using finder.com.au.

You should first decide what you want you from your card, whether that be a low rate, low fee, rewards card, etc. and then find a card that offers you this. We have comparison tables where you can compare cards from a range of providers and find the best card option for your needs.

The way forward

It’s not all finding a job and opening a bank account. There are fun times ahead. Finishing uni means that you’re really just at the beginning of your life, and you’ve got the whole world ahead of you. Think of travel, think of your career, think of finally getting your weekends back.

The next twelve months might take some adjusting, but hopefully with this survival guide in hand, there’ll be a few less bumps in the road.

Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth is an editor for finder.com.au specialising in personal finance and fintech. She enjoys reading PDSs so you don’t have to.

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