graduating in a pandemic

2020, career, student

Hello!

I feel like I haven’t written about ‘student life’ in a little while – once I finished my undergraduate degree and spent a year receiving rejection email after rejection email, going back to uni to do a masters didn’t feel like becoming a student again as much as taking a step back. I definitely haven’t felt like a student since I started my course but that’s a whole other kettle of fish (which is a very strange phrase now that I’ve written it down…).

I wrote a whole post about finishing my masters in a pandemic so I don’t want to repeat myself, but I wrote that post at the beginning of May and it’s now the beginning of August – a lot can happen in three months.

In terms of final dissertation deadlines and graduation, my graduation date was always going to be Summer 2021, as the course was intended to finish in September 2020 and my uni don’t do winter graduation ceremonies, so that hasn’t changed. However my final dissertation deadline has been pushed back by about six weeks, so I now have until the end of October. I was given the opportunity to drop my dissertation unit and pick it up again in September, finishing next May and still graduating next July, but the course has been so awful and with my project idea I could work from home without the resources of the university.

Oh how I regret that decision!

Kind of – I still don’t want the course to go on for the worst part of two years, but expecting myself to do everything from home including teaching myself brand new softwares, techniques, writing a dissertation essay (which I didn’t do for my undergrad)… that was a big ask and one that I’m not managing to keep up with.

But I didn’t want to write this post to complain about my dissertation – I wanted to talk about finishing a degree in a pandemic and the consequent graduate job market… or lack thereof.

I think back to 2018, I graduated with a really high 2:1, my lecturers and peers had all told me I wouldn’t struggle to get a job and here I was applying for probably over a hundred jobs in the space of maybe 6 months and not getting anything. It was soul destroying.

So applying that to a world that is on 80% salary, predominantly working from home and making redundancies left right and centre… I can’t imagine how much undergraduates are struggling when the job market is so significantly reduced.

I’m at the point where I’m starting to look for jobs, both because I need to financially support myself and my partner and because I want to start my career – I’m 23, I (nearly) have three degree level qualifications and I want to start building a life for myself. I want a routine and tasks to do that I haven’t set myself and work friends and to share ideas and go to meetings and answer emails and all the boring stuff! I’m sure it won’t feel nearly as exciting if I get there but right now? Working with a company for a purpose, rather than desperately trying to pull together a dissertation in the wake of an awful masters course sounds like a dream.

Do I know what I want to do with my career? Absolutely not. Do I know that I’m good at admin and organisation and diary management and would like to work in a creative environment? Yes, so that’s what I’m going with. But very few places are hiring. Unless I’m looking in the wrong places, any advice would be more than welcome.

Graduating is scary at any time – especially as an undergraduate, you’ve often been in education for about 17 years and not knowing what comes next can be equally terrifying and exciting. But in a year where you don’t get to wear the cap and gown, get nervous about walking across stage without tripping and say goodbye to your mates, I can only imagine how much more disconcerting it feels.

All I can say is my heart goes out to undergraduates with a degree and no graduation. And if you’re in that position and you feel like not being able to find a job is a reflection on your ability; it really isn’t, something will come in time but right now? We’ve just got to ride the wave; our time will come; and you’re still amazing.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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an unexpected year of progress | graduate life update

2019, career, student

Hello!

I feel like I will feel the need to write updates until the day I start a job or figure out a plan of what’s next!

It’s a weird balance because I want to document what’s going on in my life for me to look back on, but then I don’t want anyone who’s currently at uni to read and feel terrified that this is their future… but (how many times can I say ‘but’) there are other graduates in a similar position to me who feel reassured they’re not alone! This is what I think about every time I write or film on of these posts, if that gives any clarification.

So, disclaimer: this is my situation. I know a lot of grads who have jobs and many who don’t. It’s not to say that those who don’t have jobs haven’t worked hard and it doesn’t diminish the hard work those who have jobs also did. There’s no ‘luck’ in getting a job – those with employment put a lot of time and effort into getting their job, but there is being ‘unlucky’ as someone can put in the same effort and not be successful. Graduation can be so scary because it’s so uncertain and there’s no formula to certify anything, we can only do what we can. Disclaimer over!

Let’s go back to the beginning – I handed in my final assignment in May 2018, last year. I graduated in July. I started applying for jobs to start when I graduated in the February, so about a year ago now. I just kept applying for job after job. I had three interviews over the summer that were all unsuccessful. In September I started doing some part time work for my mum’s business but I didn’t properly commit because I was still hopeful something would work out. In November I had an interview for some freelance work which very quickly fell through. After the new year I went back to applying, I’m in conversation with my uni’s careers department who are trying to help me get a a job and I’m now doing two full days a week at my mum’s work.

So, I’m essentially no further along than I was a year ago except I have a degree and a part time job.

And that’s the literal update of what has factually happened.

Looking forward, /i’m going to keep working with mum, finish learning to drive, keep applying, keep researching a masters and figure out if I want to do that. I’m keeping myself busy but I can’t do this forever.

Outside of the practicalities, in myself I’m not in the best mental state. In November, things really picked up for me emotionally even though I was facing rejection after rejection. But these last few weeks where I’ve been trying to budget and pay for driving lessons and bus fares, it’s been really rough. Thinking about why I’ve been rejected for so many jobs, obviously I start thinking about how maybe I’m really not good enough, I’ve wasted my time at uni and I should just give up completely.

But what really helped was a call from my university’s careers agency (shoutout to Aaron from Solent Futures!) for reassuring me that I’m qualified, I am good enough and it will happen.

Even though I’ve been job hunting for a year, I’ve actually learnt so much and had the time to try things I wouldn’t have if I’d gone straight into a job. I’ve started learning to drive and I absolutely adore it. I’ve gone back to the dance school I spent most of my teenage years in and I volunteer on reception which has taught me a lot of really valuable skills as well as getting to go back to tap classes, I don’t know if I can find the words for how much I love them. Doing office work for my mum has taught me lots about admin and being a PA. All this time without full time commitment has meant I can continue working on my blog and YouTube channel and have time to figure out what I actually want.

I’m trying my best to think positively – giving up isn’t going to get me a job or improve my mental health. Hard work and self belief is – I’ve got to empower myself because right now, it’s all I’ve got!

So overall, I’m struggling but I think I’ll be okay in the long run. If you have any questions about post grad stuff or job hunting please do let me know!

I have a question too – I was considering writing a post about my favourite instagram accounts at the moment? I really want to share the love but not sure whether to do a post or insta stories, so please do let me know!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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