Graduating from university is daunting and the prospect of transitioning from the familiar to the unknown brings countless questions: Where will I live? Will I find friendship and community? How can I keep God at the centre as I start my career?
However you are feeling about the year ahead, it is likely that you will face change of some kind in the next 12 months: moving to a new city, starting a new job, going into clinical practice, starting a year in industry, or saying goodbyes to close friends.
But there is hope to be found in that uncertainty – because it brings the opportunity to grow closer to God.
Keeping God at the centre
‘Eight hours into a busy shift, am I thinking of God? Honestly, rarely. I’m thinking about whipping off my scrubs and what I'm having for dinner,’ says Elena, fourth-year medical student at Leicester.
Her honesty highlights the reality of post-university life: routines are uprooted, we become ever-busier and there are distractions at every turn. It is easy to let this change limit the time we spend in prayer, reading the Bible or going to church.
But, as Elena continues, ‘There are times I feel fed up and fatigued. Leaving work and re-orientating myself to God with worship music or prayer is so helpful to wash off the day's worries and just thank Him for what He has given me.’
In this way, the difficulties that come with starting your career also bring the opportunity to live out your commitment to Jesus Christ. As Hebrews 12:2 says, we are called to
‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.’
Stand firm in the face of challenge
‘Working for a bank it’s totally understandable that my peers place such importance on salaries, bonuses and end-of-year ratings. It is incredibly easy to get caught up in what many believe is a good universal measurement of value and success.’
Ross graduated from Durham in 2021 and walked straight into the world of banking as a graduate analyst. But in this high-pressure culture, God has shown Ross where his worth lies: ‘As believers we are first called to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). I hope and pray that by letting this truth rest on your heart, any desire to measure value by using these earthly quantitative factors will vanish.’
Flora, a Sunderland graduate now working as a hospital pharmacist, has also encountered a workplace environment that does not perfectly align with her faith. She ‘struggles to bring God into my workday and share him with colleagues. I can’t pray for healing over my patient because it’s not accepted practice.'
'Yet Jesus has shown His character and Spirit works within me to try to remain kind, calm and help others.’
Even in challenging secular work environments, Jesus is Lord. Psalm 46 encourages us that though the earth may give way and mountains fall into the sea, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’
Remembering this becomes easier if we look to build anchor points in our daily lives – commitments that keep us rooted in our faith. These could be anything from daily Bible study or a one-to-one mentor, to family contact and physical exercise.
Ask yourself what aspects of your faith are likely to become less of a priority during your transition to graduate life. How can you safeguard time for them?
Church as a bedrock
Much like our personal relationships with God, our church lives are also affected by the changes that come with graduation. ‘It required effort to integrate into my new church, putting myself out there to serve and going to a Bible study group,’ Flora says.
Moving away from university usually means you have to be proactive in joining a new church community, and this can be scary if you have been at your university church for a long time. But it is also an opportunity to meet new believers and further mature your relationship with God. ‘Oh, and,’ Ross quips, ‘it is now socially acceptable to go to a morning service!’
The same can be true if you are staying in the same place for work or further study. Elena stayed in Leicester while friends graduated, and this meant she had the chance to get involved in new aspects of church. ‘I started leading kids work and joined a homegroup with many older folk,’ she explains. ‘Worshipping with Christians from 3 to 93 has reminded me that God’s kingdom welcomes all!’
Christ is our foundation
As important as communal worship is for Christian life, it is not our ultimate foundation. We are called to make sure that Christ is our cornerstone, not our mid-week small group or post-Church pub trip.
‘They help,’ Elena notes. ‘But they’re not what defines a faith. After university, it can feel like everyone who supported you suddenly disperses. If your faith is rooted in people, you are more likely to wobble when they go. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!’
1 Peter 1:8-9 helps us to do exactly this: ‘Though you have not seen him (Jesus), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.’
As Elena says, ‘Friends to encourage you in faith are such a blessing but you can’t be sure they’re always going to be right next to you. God will be.’
If you're graduating, why not order a free copy of our resource for graduating students, Transition? It’s our guide for you as you navigate new situations of job hunting, working life, friendships, being part of a church and more.
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