It’s crazy to think that four years ago I finished university. I remember the feeling of handing in my last piece of university work and feeling free. I genuinely felt about four stone lighter, like someone had taken this massive weight off my shoulders. I’m sure that you probably know what feeling I’m talking about. I remember that I used to have these nightmares even weeks after finishing uni, and I’d wake up in a cold sweat thinking that I’d forgotten to hand in an essay, or I had another 5000 words to write. Then I’d wake up and think ‘I don’t have to worry about that anymore!’
The thing is, that I feel no one really prepares you for what happens when you leave university. Like yes, you’re done with dissertations and essays (woo) but now you have to start thinking about a job. A proper job. Eek. Suddenly you’re out of full time education which has been your life since you were five and you’re thinking ‘what now?’ I used to think that my dream job would land on my lap, wrapped in a pretty ribboned box. A bit like how I used to think babies were delivered to their parents by storks (this is like when I was 5 okay?) but of course like the baby situation, jobs just don’t land in your lap.
I felt like no one prepared me for that. I honestly thought, the perfect job would be out there waiting for me, but it wasn’t. It didn’t even seem to exist. You think it’ll be out there and there will be brands waiting for fresh graduates wanting to pounce on you as soon as you leave university. But in reality, everyone wants experience when it comes to jobs, and I even found that the internships that gave you experience wanted experience. I was thinking ‘where do I get this initial experience from?’ Should I have done an internship in the womb? I didn’t have the money to do a full time unpaid internship (which was the only thing about) (( I had a flat and a heat magazine subscription to pay for)) so I got a job.
A job in a department store that paid shitty money, and was long hours standing on your feet all day. At first I felt fed up, although I had gotten myself a job so you know money, I felt annoyed that I’d spent three years at university working hard for my degree, I was god knows how much in debt thanks to student loans and here I was picking up clothes off the floor from the sale rail. I was like ‘this wasn’t supposed to happen.’ I was supposed to be like Lauren Conrad from The Hills with a cool internship at Teen Vogue, living the life with cool headbands and Chanel handbags.
The thing is, I’ve been rewatching The Hills lately and I am spotting so much more as a 25 year old than I did as a 17/18 year old. It shows you that yes the internship at Teen Vogue sounds amazing but it’s hard work. Lauren and Whitney worked all hours, they had to miss their boyfriend’s birthdays and parties with their friends, they got barely any sleep. You see I missed the point that even the dream jobs are hard work and aren’t always the dream. I had my head in the clouds like ‘ahhh Lauren isn’t she pretty, and look at them choosing male models. What a life.’
Ir’s okay to take a job that isn’t your dream job. It’s okay to take a job that has nothing to do with your degree, jobs don’t have to be forever, and there’s no shame in that. I remember someone said to me ‘university must have been a waste as I was now working in just a shop.’ You have to make money some how, so what does it matter?
Thinking back – I wish someone had told me this:
- Don’t let anyone make you feel like your degree was a ‘waste’ like they did to me. I know barely anyone who came out of university and went straight into their dream job. So don’t feel like you’re not the only one who hasn’t. There is so much pressure to land a job straight away or in the field of your degree but there is no rules. You do you.
- A job is a job. It’s still experience and money so it doesn’t matter if it’s not in the field you wanted. It’s not forever. It’s for right now.
- Just because something isn’t happening right now, it doesn’t mean it never will. Don’t give up hope.
- If the job/opportunity you want doesn’t exist, make it exist. Create your own opportunities, start your own business, do your own thing.
- Being happy is number one, so if you find happiness in a job that you didn’t expect to, then roll with it. Alternatively if you land a great job and you’re not happy, then you don’t have to stick with it. We work for a very long time, and you shouldn’t spend those years being really miserable.
- No one really has their shit together. No matter what Facebook and LinkedIn makes us believe.
I feel like if someone had told me those things above when I came out of university, the next few years would have been so much easier. I wouldn’t have beat myself up over having a part time job, or for feeling confused when I didn’t actually like the job that I thought was my dream job. The job that my degree led to, the job that could have given me a career in media, and when I realised I didn’t like it, I felt awful. I felt stupid, and I couldn’t work out why it wasn’t for me. Was I dumb? I felt I didn’t deserve it, I was annoyed at myself. But the job just wasn’t for me, and although everyone was lovely, the pay was great and I could have progressed over the years, it just wasn’t right and that’s okay. I never thought that my job would be my blog one day. The blog I started whilst at university to get over homesickness. Things have a funny way of working out.
Do I regret university? No not at all. I try to not think too much about my student debt (I’m a bury my head in the sand kinda girl) but university taught me so much. It taught me about living away from home, I started my blog cause I was away at uni, and skills I learnt I put into my blog. I will always have my degree and I always think you shouldn’t regret the things you do, after all I can’t step back in a time machine and start over again.
Don’t feel like university was a waste of time, look at the positives and honestly if you’re freaking out right now about jobs and the life goals then don’t. Give yourself time off, and a job will come around. Keep looking, keep applying, put yourself out there and never give up. Never settle for a job, and always remember happiness is number one. It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do, you will work it out. Don’t listen to anyone else, and I am now going to stop waffling on.
This may have been a bit of a random post, but I know right now is when a lot of people are graduating and it was around this time four years ago, I was freaking out about jobs. I wish someone had prepared me for all of this, and told me it would be okay. Cause as cliche as it sounds, it will be okay.
Do you have any tips for graduates? Or if you’re a graduate what would you say to someone else right now?