Leaving university was all I wanted to do from the moment I got there, but aside from not wanting to disappoint my parents by not going, I loved the idea of studying the subjects I had ended up with.
University didn’t go the way I thought it would, I was only there for a few days a week, a few hours each time, and I didn’t stay on campus because I studied in London. Basically, it was definitely not like in the movies, but as this became painstakingly obvious, I was already committed to at least 5k of debt (before interest).
By the time I was at the end of my final year and handing in my final assignment I was so over the idea of further education, but I hadn’t really anticipated the feeling that I would get next.
What do I do now I’ve finished university?
That question followed me for ages and just as I had started to dismiss it family and friends would start asking me “what are you going to do next?” I dodged the question successfully by applying for a mad amount of internships and jobs, but the truth was I was filled with a sense of dread.
I had been told repeatedly that I should know what I want to do in life since GCSE, but at 14 I had no idea what I wanted to do for my working life.
Fast forward six years, I was equipped with 11 GCSEs, 3 A Levels and a BA degree, but I was still clueless about what to do next. All these qualifications and the only place to go with them now was to the ‘real’ working adult world. Up until this point I’d always had the next point in my life mapped out, because it always involved some sort of studying. Now? Now I was on my own and needing to think on my feet. I needed a real job to gain some real experience and real quick.
People are always quick to say “have you tried…” but when you have tried and literally everything that comes to mind and you’re so close to giving up all you can say to “what are you going to next” is realistically “I don’t know”. Be warned, if you choose to use that line be prepared for a whole load of lecturing, because as we all know ‘you’re supposed to know what you want to do in life(!)’.
I remember spending a few weeks being told repeatedly that the field I want to do is near impossible to get into – because that’s encouraging… – but other post-graduate options never appealed to me. I barely had a tolerance level through sixth form and university had steadily worked my last nerve for any more formal education. A Masters was never going to be on the cards, I will never change this opinion, and post graduate schemes were over a yearlong, and so rigid, they still felt like education more than experience.
What else is there to do?
Well I know one girl who hadn’t had a job ever, and was still jobless two years after we had a graduated because she was waiting for her ‘dream job’. I haven’t spoken to her in a while but it’s been three years since graduation now and I’m sure her resilience has paid off.
There’s always the option of the celebratory travelling session. Personally I was broke through uni and I’m even more broke now, the idea of travelling for long periods of time at the moment just doesn’t seem like a viable option for me right now, but there’s plenty of time for that.
Speaking of being broke, I know a lot of people who just took any job that they could get and rolled with it, whether it was related to the degrees we had left with or not. Others had their weekend jobs made into a fulltime thing.
Then the whole idea of being your own boss, a steadily growing dream and something that most people deep down would love. Warning: this might be greeted with scoffs, disparaging comments and negativity.
Personally, after being so close to giving up that I would ever get a media-related job, I went with admin temping before eventually landing a job in marketing, whilst the people I was temping for were trying to make me permanent (talk about being in popular demand!).
My head is saying this is a good gig, but my heart is saying this is not what you should be doing, so I’m still working on getting back what I’m most passionate about, and have three things on the go outside of my usual 9-5 to help get me there.
Whatever is going through your head, and whatever you have decided to do, you’re not alone, nor are you restricted by time. There are so many options that it seems silly to spend time worrying and stressing about “what do I do now?” The end of university guarantees one thing, and that is freedom. So if you do one solitary thing, enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to follow your heart wherever it may take you.