As application season intensifies, it can feel like the whole world is announcing that they’ve accepted an offer for their top choice firm or are choosing between three placements. So, how do you stay focused and avoid the trap of comparison culture?
You’re already trying to balance ongoing studies alongside writing applications, attending events, and building your network. Social media can be an invaluable resource during this time, but it can lead to additional stress when you’re also using it to excessively compare your progress to others.
We really encourage social media interaction at Shoosmiths – it’s a great way to get to know the firm, the work we do, and how we live our values. However, as we all share more on social media, we would also encourage staying alert (and resilient to) comparison culture – judging your own level of professional achievement compared to all the achievements highlighted online.
Easier said than done…but the following can help:
1. Step away from the screen
The more you check your social media accounts, the more likely you are to want to keep checking them – scrolling for new updates can be addictive!
It can be hard to know when you’re falling into a spiral of comparison, but a good way to think about it is if you start feeling worse after you’ve been on social media than you did before, then you need to take a break.
Try to be more mindful about how many times you pick up your devices, especially if it’s mostly just habit.
Do you check your phone as soon as you wake up? Try to push back that first check so your most relaxed, post sleep state is extended for a bit longer.
2. Don’t forget the rest of your life
Of course, applications need to be completed, but try to be disciplined in making time for friends or keeping up with hobbies as well. They can give you the distraction you need to clear your head and do a better job of the applications you’re working on when you come back to them.
For instance, if you regularly play football or go to the cinema every Wednesday night, try to stick to that routine whilst everything else is going on. It can really help to remember that things keep moving around you and application season isn’t the only thing!
3. Be genuine
If conversation turns to applications, it’s good to share in the success of your friends and others on your course (and to share your own success too!)
Speaking to peers about their experiences of application processes can make application season become more collaborative than comparative; it can take away the fear factor of what an interview or assessment centre might entail.
It’s also ok to talk about how you’re feeling if things aren’t going so well (perhaps friends or family, or university support services) – you’ll probably find that there’s a lot more people than you think going through a similar experience.
4. Run your own race
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else is or isn’t doing – it’s your career.
Applying for placements and training contracts isn’t easy, and it will take up a lot of time.
So do your research, try your best, and remember not to be too hard on yourself during the process.
Good luck with your applications!