Advice to new grads

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

We put the question to you on our York Alumni Association LinkedIn page. Your response was huge and covered every angle.

Recent University of York grads and newbies, this advice is for you – from people who lived on the same concrete campus as you, took lectures next door to the Courtyard and had a graduation pic snapped next to Heslington Hall.

1. Don’t get stuck in one place

Don’t get tied down with a boring job, mortgage and family too soon as there is plenty of time for all that in the future. Stay open to new ideas, keep fresh and the opportunities will find you!

Maggie Breton, Programme Co-ordinator – Accounting and Business, graduated 1984


Aim high. Travel. Leave if it’s not working out for you.

Lynn Rawlinson, Writer, graduated 1977

Move to Silicon Valley, or at least spend some time in major international cities like San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Melbourne, etc.

Lee Mallabone, Senior Engineer at LinkedIn, graduated 2001

2. Pay off your debt

Pay off your debt as soon as possible [if you don’t it will] constrain what you can do in 5 and 10 years’ time.

Paul Hodges, Chairman, International eChem: Creative Energy for Important Issues, graduated 1974

3. Don’t be shy

shy cat

You don’t know everything. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Farah Govani, Executive Coach & Mindfulness Consultant, Govani Coaching Ltd, graduated 1998

Don’t be afraid of getting in touch with new people… and never judge.

Duo XU, IELTS trainer at Meten English, graduated 2012

It’s relationships not brilliant compositional skill that earns the money in my business and persistence always trumps talent.

Paul Arnold, Composer at Bob and Barn Ltd, Co Founder & Partner at Atom Audio Productions, graduated 1995

4. Get a professional qualification

Pursue a professional qualification and training (accountant, lawyer etc). It will open up all sorts of future opportunities even if it’s not immediately an exciting, entrepreneurial route.

Adam Clements, Managing Director at FreshMinds Talent, graduated 1996

5. Stop worrying

Don’t worry too much about the future. Life is for living, enjoying and growing. It’s easy to feel at 21 that your career is all that matters.

Richard O’Neill, Business Analyst at ProCook, graduated 2010

Don’t be afraid of making a mistake or picking the wrong job. You’ll only work out what you really want to do when you’ve spent time finding out what you don’t want to do.

Michael Cowan, Consultant, graduated 2011

6. Don’t live someone else’s dream

What really gives you the buzz in life? Earn the living you NEED doing the thing you LOVE. This is a once in a lifetime life! Don’t waste it in chasing someone else’s dream.

Tim Binns, Partner at Fitzwilliam Business Consultants; Managing Director of Aardvark Display Lighting, graduated 1975

7. Never be too busy for the people who matter

Spend time with family and friends. Never be too busy to socialise, appreciate nature, travel or exercise.

Sutharsan John Isles, Education Consultant, graduated 2013

Make sure to make time for your family and friends (while you still can) and just enjoy life.

Richard O’Neill, Business Analyst at ProCook, graduated 2010

8. Network like there’s no tomorrow

Networking is the best way of ‘Not Working’ & Marketing yourself. Remember the old adage: ‘It’s not the Company you are in, it’s the Company you keep.’

Tony McGrory, Retired, graduated 1975