Catherine Alexander, Careers Consultant here at the CS, marks World Mental Health Day, on Sunday 10 October 2021, by reflecting on ways we can look after our wellbeing this application season
#Lightuppurple for events like World Mental Health Day remind us to think about our mental health, the importance of work life balance and being kind to ourselves as well as others. But how do you do that when you’ve just started back at Cambridge after a year like no other, the Careers Service is already reminding you that there are deadlines looming for internships and graduate schemes next summer and you’re already feeling just a little bit overwhelmed by it all.
1 – Your mental health comes first no matter what other deadlines there are
2 – Talk to other people about how you feel
Talking to others about how we feel can not only help remove some of the burden, but ensure measures can be put in place and workload decreased if necessary. Take the time to listen if someone reaches out to you. Just knowing that other people are feeling the same way that you are can take a load off your mind, though remember it’s 0kay to say no and prioritise your own wellbeing if you’re struggling.
3 – Pace your job applications
You don’t have to apply for absolutely everything right now. For example, if you’re interested in consultancy did you know there are over 350 consultancies (yes really!) and not all of them have deadlines in October. Focus on one or two applications at a time. You’ll write better, well researched, more focused drafts if you aren’t rushing and they’re more likely to be successful too.
4 – Take the pressure off
If you don’t yet know what career you want that’s fine too. The Careers Service has sessions to help you work it out – such as ‘how to pick a career’. Recognise that it takes time and you don’t have to have all the answers right now. It’s common for friends and family to ask the daunting question ‘what’s next?’ but the reality is loads of people aren’t sure and many will end up changing careers too.
5 – Get some help with your next steps
If planning your career is becoming too much, talk to the Careers Service about how and what to prioritise now and what can be put off for another time of year. Break it down into small achievable steps. There’s more benefits to starting slow and at your own pace and building up, than trying to rush everything at once.
6 – Every day do something that uses a different, not working, part of your brain
Turn off the part that works on your degree or thinks about internship applications and turn on the part that does something creative, athletic, musical – whatever gives you a break. That might be switching off completely and going for a walk or just gazing out of the window at your college garden.
Keep safe, keep well – your Careers Service is here when you’re ready.
If you are struggling, or know someone that is, these resources might help