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Leiden University Career Zone

Career stress
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Career stress

Looking for a job or shaping your study career can cause (some) tension. This might be a development you were not hoping at this stage. Many students experience stress at some point in the search process. This type of stress has been well-acknowledged resulting in several studies and books that have been written about this subject. It is good to know that you are not alone in this and that you can actively do something about it with the right support.

You are not alone:

Besides knowing that a lot of other students are in a comparable situation, it is good to know that many have preceded you. This information can potentially help to visualize your obstacles in order to learn to deal with them better. The blog My Career Story shows examples of the careers of others and their successes, struggles and "failures".

What can you actively do:

For general tips, look at the Leiden University page on student wellbeing. It can also help to reflect on your specific obstacles. The obstacles that many individuals, including students, encounter are:

Only the best is good enough. After all, the circumstances are as such that everything is available to have a perfect life. So why is it not possible to achieve that? For many young people, it feels like their own fault when it doesn't work out. Research shows that young people have high expectations for life. Social media can make it seem like everyone is doing well, so you want that too. However, nobody is nothing but successful in life . And it is precisely “the unexpected” or “what feels like failure” that ensures that you learn and that you progress. For example, search online for the "CV of Failures" and realize that everyone makes mistakes and they also lead to the next step.

Social comparison
It is natural to compare yourself to others. This is human nature and it helps to look at people who can do something "better" to develop ourselves. We usually compare ourselves with someone who looks like us. However, due to social media it is very easy to compare yourself with a lot of people. There seem to be a fascination with celebrity culture and widespread interest in carefully-manicured social-media feeds, provoking an effect of exposing people to an endless stream of others’ seemingly perfect images, homes, jobs, skills, and families. Comparison with so many people can block you and prevent you from making your own choices or following a path. After all, the fact that everyone seems to have managerial experience as board member/ done a world trip / performed volunteer work / a cool part-time job does not mean that this is a suitable option for you. Stay close to yourself and don't get too distracted.

Choice stress
There are so many possibilities! That often feels good, but the amount of options can also make you numb. There always seems to be a better alternative. Because the more choices we know, the more options have to be eliminated and the more difficult it is to compare all those choices. It feels like one of those choices is the perfect one. If you don't choose this one, it can feel like it has major negative consequences. Try to narrow your choices so that you can compare them. If you continue to have doubts, choose anyway. Research shows that “not choosing” leads to the most dissatisfaction feeling. And that a right or perfect choice doesn't really exist. Every choice leads to something and you can continue from there.

Being meaningful
I'm not sure what I want after my studies, but I do want to be worthy to the world or else do other meaningful work. Compared to the past, individuals in our present time seem to be encountered already at a young age with an internal conflict of being meaningful. Find out what your core values are and what meaningful work means to you. Keep it small. Meaningful can have many interpretations.


In our Career Planning roadmap it is possible, after ULCN login, to look at the entire career orientation process and go through it on the basis of a number of steps. This may help you get a better grip on your study career questions.

Connecting the dots (trust your instinct)

Connecting the dots (trust your instinct)