UCL Careers


Career Envy

Missed our recent Instagram Live on career envy? Read on how to respond to the feeling of being envious of others' careers pursuits.

A sat-down individual gusturing with their hands in front of a laptop computer.

5 June 2023

Has someone else’s LinkedIn update ever made you feel envious? Or a little bit inadequate? Or as though you’re slipping behind where you ‘should’ be in your career?

It might not be LinkedIn that does it. It might be something that comes up in conversation - a chance remark (or a very deliberate one!) that tells you they’ve landed their dream job/internship/promotion, whilst you’re struggling to get your first opportunity.

How does that make you feel? 100% happy for them? Or maybe just a little bit discontented inside? If the latter, read on for some great tips from alumni Tariq and Blessing, who recently took part in an Instagram Live discussion hosted by UCL Careers Extra, all about ‘Career Envy’. Tariq graduated from IMB in 2020 and now works for Google as a Solutions Consultant. Blessing studied English and finished last year. She is a freelancer in social media and marketing, has her own business, We Are Dokia, and also works for UCL in the marketing team.

#1 Recognise your triggers

The envy that can eat away at you and your confidence is your enemy. Work out what you’re feeling envious about – that helps get some perspective and it also means you now know what you’re dealing with. Blessing realised she wasn’t trying to follow the same path as the people getting the great internships, so it wasn’t the internships themselves she was envious about. It was the fact that the path into their chosen career seemed more straightforward than hers that made her feel a little bit jealous. Recognising that helped her deal with those feelings and see that there was no point comparing her situation to someone else’s.

#2 Work out your priorities

What really matters to you? Don’t ever lose sight of that. Blessing concentrates on how she continues moving closer to her goals, even when those goals are a bit fuzzy at times!  She knows what she loves doing and what makes her motivated – a great first step to feeling satisfied with how your career is going. Tariq cares about contributing to the community and is passionate about diversity and inclusion initiatives. Remembering what’s important to him and concentrating on what he can do to make a difference to others helps him to focus on positive things, squeezing out the negative thoughts that can come from thinking about yourself too much. It also helps guard against letting career take over so much that it might make him forget what’s really important to him in life.

#3 Imagine the backstory

When someone posts their shiny success on Instagram they don’t often tell you how many disappointments and unsuccessful applications they’ve had. They don’t list the detail of how many hoops they had to jump through to get to where they are now, or the sleepless nights and anxiety that caused. Remembering that helps put your own stresses and disappointments into perspective and allows you to realise they’re part of the process and of your own success story.

#4 Look how far you’ve come

Feelings of envy are totally normal and there’s no need to beat yourself up for them, but step back a minute, says Tariq, and be grateful for what you have already. Taking that viewpoint helps you to be thankful and humble, rather than envious. So many people would love to be in your shoes - studying at (or having graduated from) UCL, just for starters.

#5 Use Linkedin to your advantage

When you see someone with the role you would love, rather than letting envy take hold, message them, congratulate them, ask their advice!  That’s what Blessing has done. Or Tariq’s advice is to message them to see if there are other roles coming up in their company and any tips or referrals they can offer you. Using someone else’s success as your opportunity to learn helps you keep moving forward and keeps those negative emotions away. And don’t forget to respond to others who ask your advice once you’re in their dream job!  For some further tips on avoiding overwhelm and comparison to get the best out of LinkedIn check out this article.

#6 Turn rejection into redirection!

Everyone receives rejections – Tariq’s LinkedIn record showed him he had had about 350! Keep learning and improving and you will get there in the end. Remember you only need one acceptance to get your career on its way.

#7 Keep busy building your skills

If you’re deep in career envy it may be time to have a little break from scrolling and take some practical action. Identify skills you need for the job you want and start exercising those skills – whether through volunteering, creating your own content or free online courses. If you’re a current UCL student have a look at the opportunities the SU Volunteering team offers and also make use of your free access to LinkedIn Learning, which has a massive range of courses. Then make sure you show future employers what you have learnt – here’s some advice on how to do that. Plus take care of your mental and physical health, spending some time doing things you have a passion for whilst you have some time for them – once you’re in that next job you may find you are too busy. And of course, make use of UCL Careers – even if you have already graduated, you can attend events (many of which are online), access one-to-one advice and guidance and make use of all the online resources for three years after you complete your studies.