Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

Ka Yiu Cheng
"It is completely normal to feel lost as a university student, particularly when it comes to graduation. I don’t have an absolute solution on how to overcome anxiety. But it is important to recognize your emotions, acknowledge your feelings, and share it with someone you trust."

Graduating can be scary. When you complete a bachelor's degree, it means entering society—getting a job, becoming an adult, and looking “successful." 

Currently, I’m studying at SFU as a fourth-year Communication and Publishing student. I still find it extremely stressful to graduate because of the fear of not knowing if I have prepared myself enough before entering the “real” world. Especially with the pandemic, I think the majority of us feel like we are in the dark.

I started to be curious about how SFU Communication alumni enter the communication industry and what they do with their degree. Then, I started to connect with alumni through LinkedIn and did a number of informational interviews by sending cold messages via LinkedIn. 

When I was doing my informational interviews, I prepared a list of customized questions by viewing their profile. These informational interviews inspired me to explore different non-academic programs, such as SFU Change Lab, LightHouse Labs Bootcamp, and the Co-op program. After that, I decided to apply for a co-op because I want to gain corporate work experience and secure a job after I graduated. Now, I’m working as a Videographer and Graphic media Intern in a mining company! 

Have a Plan

Graduation is a reflection of your university journey. It is perfectly natural to be scared that you chose the wrong degree, especially if you already spent 5+ years pursuing that piece of nice parchment paper. This may lead to the fear of disappointing your parents as well. The older generation may not understand why a university degree is not enough to get a job nowadays. Work experiences, technical or practical skills are also important when it comes to job seeking. Thus, it is essential to have a plan. 

  • What are you interested in doing?

  • Where can you gain the experience or skills you want? [this requires some research on what kind of jobs you want to do]

  • How do you measure the goals?

  • Prepare a backup plan if you don’t like what your current degree leads to you? Would you consider doing another certificate or pursuing a master degree? If so, how can you support yourself?   

Starting with these questions so that you know what is worth spending  your valuable time on before/after you graduated.

Overcome Comparison

One of my biggest graduation anxieties is comparing. I used to compare with people who were older than me and more “successful” than me. I know this is very unhealthy and toxic but I couldn’t help myself to fall into that deep hole. 

I found that the reason why I compare is I want to become the person who I always compare with. I was so shocked by that realization because I have always been very self-driven. I realize at this time that my self-esteem had also been sinking without me noticing. I told myself that I didn’t want to become anyone. The only person I should compare with is myself AND my past-self. 

I knew I had to stop caring about what other people thought. All I needed to do was to follow my own path and work hard. Surprisingly, I turned “comparing” to become my small part of motivation to find an internship before I graduated.  

Say Goodbye to "University Talk"

My other anxiety that I have about graduation is having to say goodbye to “University Talk”. I have this fear that I will find it so hard to communicate or socialize with people outside of school when I graduate. When talking to my peers, we always discuss how or where to gain volunteer and work experience, what classes to take, who is hosting a party tonight, etc. 

However, when it comes to a conversation with my managers in my Co-op company, we share our opinions on politics, new technology, investing, etc. This motivated me to pay more attention to the news, read more books, and think about what interested me the most in my life.

Rediscover Old Hobbies

Then, I started to rediscover my hobbies. When I was a kid, I developed a lot of hobbies, such as piano, traditional chinese painting, competitive swimming, and Royal Academy ballet. I stopped swimming and dancing in Hong Kong for a few years because I had to complete the university entrance exam and move to Canada. I’ve started attending ballet classes and swimming again in my second year in University. I treat them as my hobbies to maintain my physical health and well-being. Picking up old passions allows me to recall my self-confidence and spend time with like-minded folks. 

To conclude, it is completely normal to feel lost as a university student, particularly when it comes to graduation. I don’t have an absolute solution on how to overcome anxiety. But it is important to recognize your emotions, acknowledge your feelings, and share it with someone you trust. You will only become tougher and know how to respond to those negative thoughts when you encounter a similar situation next time.

This blog was originally posted on the SFU Surrey-TD Community Engagement Centre website on April 1, 2021.

Ka Yiu is a fourth-year International Student who came from Hong Kong to Canada to pursue her degree in Communications and a minor in Publishing at SFU. She enjoys studying Communications because she is interested in journalism and loves to write stories to inspire others. She is the happiest when she is involved in creating engaging content. She has co-facilitated the workshops, Let's Talk Online Interviews: Why They Terrify Us and Let’s Talk Graduation Anxiety: How to Prepare For Your Transition into the “Real” World with her friend and old colleague, Inoka. 
visibility  174
Apr 1, 2021

You Might Like These... Career Exploration, Professional Development, Workplace Transition, Student Success, SFU Alumni, Convocation

Guy wearing his graduation gown, standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking the city
Justin's Journey

After Justin and Samantha decided to create Career Friends, the rest was history. They have kept each other on track while job-hunting post graduation. Read Justin's story about his experiences after graduating in 2002, and how he overcame the challenges of finding full-time employment.

Graduation ceremony
How to Prepare for the Workforce Before Graduation

How do you stand out and stay ahead of the game in today's increasingly competitive job market? Read on to learn about 4 important resources that can help you advance your career while you're still in school.

christina wu laughing
Life After Co-op Series: Connecting Local and Global Experience

Christina Wu finished a joint major in Business and Communication at SFU and is now working as a Communications Coordinator for the BC Council for International Education. She sat down with us to share her rich Co-op experiences and how they played a significant part in developing the skills and connections she has today.

You Might Like These... Convocation

Photo of Miranda
Reflections From a Skilled Debater Heading to Law School

Before she crosses the stage and moves on to study Law at the University of British Columbia (UBC), International Studies (IS) student Miranda Pinter-Colett took a moment to reflect back on her time at SFU and offer some words of wisdom to current and incoming IS students. 

Photo of Spencer
Studying Mental Health Stigma for Social Change

As an undergraduate student, Spencer Chen excelled with a GPA of 4.21 and received numerous merit-based scholarships and awards. She also sought diverse research and community service opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the SFU community.

Photo of Chao
Driven by a Passion for Research

Chao Bao graduates with a Ph.D. in Mechatronics. Equipped with a master's degree in engineering and nine years of experience in government research and industry, he made the difficult decision to leave a stable job to pursue his passion in research, with the goal of making a difference in society.