This morning on LinkedIn I saw a request from a past University tutor asking us (graduates) to submit our experiences of the transition from graduate to career professional. It got me thinking about that time again which really only ended for me 6 months ago when finally, I got my start in marketing communications.
Today also marks 10 years since gaining my GCSE results and last week it was 8 years since I got my A-Levels. Between then and now I have got 2 NVQ’s in Business Administration, a National qualification in Dental Nursing, and my degree. I have also in this time moved from my family home in Devon to London, Leeds, Bath, Keynsham (between Bath and Bristol) and North Hampshire where I am now. It has certainly been a decade of transition and I have to remind myself of how much I have done and achieved even though I spend much of my time at the moment feeling as though I am playing catch up and should be far more advanced in my career than I am. But life isn’t about doing everything correctly and in order, it’s about doing things that let you learn who you are and what you want and often that involves several paths before landing on the right one. The path to my career in Communications has taken 7 years from realising that’s what I wanted to do, completing what I was doing at the time, beginning my degree to finally getting my break in January this year.
What I want readers to take away from this, particularly if you are young and at that crossroads moment is persist. Do everything you can to be the best person you can be and give yourself the best opportunities… but also remember as you’ll later read, that there are others, who don’t do half if any of the things that you do or have done to get to where you want, and will just land that great job. You know what, screw ’em, life’s a bitch and karma always pays off in the end!
I graduated in the summer of 2012 with a 2:1 degree in Media Communications from Bath Spa University. During my time at Uni, aside from studying, I ensured I was proactive in my extra-curricular pursuits that ultimately would back up and support my claims of having good skills in time management, organisation, can work well with people etc. but more importantly that I like to get involved and contribute my time and voice to things that matter and I can influence.
In my second year I became Vice President of the Equestrian Society and I was also honoured with being the rep for the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries (representing about 1400 students) as well as being class rep for Media Communications. Time managing was both essential and a challenge and it would be wrong of me to say that reading time didn’t suffer… it did, I gave myself an incredibly full year. But what you put in you get out and at the Volunteer & Society Awards evening that year I wiped the floor with awards, I also passed my 2nd year well and gained the President role of the Equestrian Society which at the time was what I felt was the only additional pursuit to my coursework that I should do in my 3rd and final year. I also, throughout my three years at Bath Spa, made a conscious effort to get work experience in Marketing and PR which was my whole drive for going to University (and back into full-time education after 3.5-4 years working in healthcare) in the first place. 3rd year was hard and to be honest, I should have been satisfied with spending the year studying as trying to manage the society and all the s**t that went with it (and it came in bucketfuls) did affect my work and my advice would be to keep your 3rd year as simple as possible. Spend the first year finding your feet, making friends etc. Second year make as full as you like if you can manage it, and don’t do anything in your 3rd year except study! Consistently working a part-time job also proved a hassle but I needed the money as so many students do and actually, sounds weird but it was an escape from studying!
Anywho… moving on.
When going into interviews following my graduation, prospective employers liked my clear can-do, driven attitude and that I used my time at University well. However, this did not prevent me from being unemployed for 4 months and then having to resort to a full-time job in House of Fraser which was depressing to say the least for a further 3 months before I landed my first (and current) role in Marketing Communications. If I had stayed in the Bath/Bristol area I may have had a slightly different experience as I made a lot of connections in the area owing to my different pursuits but after University I relocated to North Hampshire where aside from moving in with my Boyfriend and kick-starting that area of my life off, the catchment area for opportunities here is endless. I had interviews weekly (10 in all) but as is so often the case for graduates, it’s not the personality of the candidate, it’s their experience which as is so often the case, is little if any. Employers seem blinded by it which is a shame, I came to University as employers wouldn’t look at me without a degree, now they weren’t looking at me because of experience. You can’t win!
As negative as that sounds, it’s good to experience it first-hand. I myself was deluded into thinking I would fly into a job upon graduation as my pre uni working life + degree + extra-curricular pursuits made me think I was a top notch candidate… but for whatever reason I wasn’t quite good enough. But it made me more determined to make it in Marketing and PR, rejection did almost make me give up but having that patience and that belief in yourself does pay off. You just have to wait for that right interview with the right people, in the right company that will see that potential and give you that all important break! But I won’t lie to you, spending every single day for 4 months and then in my evenings while working at HoF filling out countless job applications and job hunting is relentless and there quite honestly, is nothing more depressing and soul destroying. But keep going, you must keep going!
Bath Spa probably won’t like this account of my time as a graduate… but it’s the real account, no rainbows and roses and no “by doing this degree you’ll get the most amazing job in the world straight away” as they convince you at open days. Some do of course, my good friend who did amazingly well academically, did no work experience, or extra-curricular activities and didn’t want to even work in Marketing & PR for much of our time together at University like I so desperately did, following graduation flew straight into a job…. In PR!
Like I said, life’s a Bitch!