Careers Service

Bounce Back

Learn to handle competitive situations and not to blame yourself when things don't turn out in your favour.

At university, you're in an environment where everyone is good, so don't worry if you're not the best at everything. If you're "just average" at university, that's perfectly normal (by definition!) and no reason why you shouldn't have a very successful future.

Dare to test yourself out with new experiences. You'll either learn a whole new set of skills or at the very least, have some great interview examples for when you've learnt to bounce back after a challenge.

Employers sometimes complain about how "students today lack resilience" - this is your chance prove them wrong!

Bounce Back - how are you doing?

If you're an undergraduate at the University of Manchester, try our My Future questionnaire (login to My Manchester required) to find out where you're strong and what you could do now to improve.

Want some further help?

Here are some resources and ideas to support you in:

  • Getting another perspective
  • Trying things out even if you're not sure you'll succeed
  • Trying again if you don't succeed at first attempt
  • Imposter syndrome - when you feel like a fraud

Getting another perspective

If you've had a bad experience, it's often difficult to look at it objectively. Emotions get in the way.

Try to get another perspective by talking it through with someone else - a friend, a mentor, academic adviser, careers staff.

If you're worried it might have an impact on your career (a bad interview, job experience or exam result), ask them to help you

  • work out a way to talk about what you learnt from the experience
  • look for things you can fix or which are likely to be different next time
  • remind yourself of similar or related experiences which have gone well

It can be very helpful if someone can observe you in action (for example, giving a presentation or answering interview questions) and give you feedback on how to improve.

Worried about your results? Here's our take on what getting a 2:2 or 3rd means for your career:

If you need someone to give you a different perspective or help you with your Plan B:

Trying things out even if you're not sure you'll succeed

It can be reassuring to stick to the same old activities or ways of doing things but university should be your big chance to try something new and learn from the experience, whatever the outcome.

Think about putting a safety net in place before you try something scary:

  • Enlist support from friends who can encourage you and support you if it goes wrong
  • Do things early enough so you've got time to try again if you need to
  • Create a back-up plan so you're not devastated if your Plan A doesn't come off

Try some of our blog posts for inspiration:

Trying again if you don't succeed at first attempt

Don't worry if you don't get the first job or interview you try for. Well-known employers may receive hundreds of good applications for each graduate job. Sometimes, it's just the luck of the draw who gets the interview or the job.

  • Be prepared to apply many times - practice on the first few applications, then move on to your dream jobs
  • Ask for feedback from employers if it's an interview and learn from their comments
  • Consider smaller or less well-known employers - there's less competition!

If it's really your dream job, sometimes you need to grit your teeth and apply again next year. Here's a real life story to show it can work:

Imposter syndrome - when you feel like a fraud

Ever felt like you only got here by luck and you're just waiting to be found out?

Some of the most successful people secretly feel like this sometimes - it's called Imposter Syndrome and it's particularly common in academia and amongst other high achievers.

Here's some reassurance that you're not alone, and stories of how other high achievers cope