13th November 17

This week I was reminded by Facebook’s handy little On This Day feature (which I very rarely check out of fear of past embarrassments resurfacing), that it’s been an entire year since I graduated. A whole year, which has flown by in what has felt like a matter of days. I’ve always heard people say that as you grow older, time starts to pass a little faster each year, but the speed at which this past year has flown by has been a little scary. Regardless, seeing the photos of me and my uni friends decked out in our graduation robes and hats, and realising that that memorable day was 365 days ago, gave me a bit of a wake up call. I graduated a whole year ago… so what on earth have I been doing all of this time?!


I was considering calling this post something along the lines of ‘Everything I’ve Learnt Since I Graduated’ or ’10 Things I’ve Achieved Since Leaving Uni’, but I put a stop to both of those ideas very quickly when I realised that both posts would probably be a paragraph long with not much to them. Because to be honest with you, it doesn’t feel like much has happened in the last year. Or, I guess to make that more specific, a lot has happened, but none of the things which I thought were going to happen as soon as I left the gates of University for the final time, have happened.


When you’re at school, and even throughout Uni, you’re led to believe that if you can make it through all of those years of education, pay your debts and turn up to lectures on time, you’ll reap the rewards as soon as you’ve tossed your graduation hat into the air. You’re told that going to University will improve your chances of getting your dream job and that the debt and work will all be worth it. And I’m sure for a lot of people that’s true. But for me, it doesn’t seem to have happened just yet. Uni chewed me up as a fresh faced fresher and then spat me out again 3 years later with a degree, new friends and new life experience, but with absolutely no clue of what to do with myself now that I was no longer a student.


If you’re a graduate with a vague or creative degree (I studied English, possibly the most vague degree going), what do you do with yourself when you’re no longer required to attend 9am lectures? Hand in job applications to every big London office going, only to be told that after 3 years of studying, you’re still not qualified enough? Read rejection letter after rejection letter where you’re told ‘2 years experience needed’ over and over? There’s a real sense of being stuck in the middle which you can gain from post-graduate life, which nobody ever told me about in the years which I spent being moulded by academia.


Maybe it’s easier to be a graduate of a non-creative degree, where you have a set career which you’re working towards for the entirety of your degree? You’re moulded for that career and fully qualified by the time your three years are up. With creative degrees, it’s like you’re never quite right for the industry which you’re applying for. Jack of all trades, master of none.


So, I’m here now. Where? I’m not quite sure. I’m one year a graduate and really trying to work out how to claw myself back onto that ladder towards success which I was always told that attending uni, and putting hard work in, would put me on. I’m standing at a crossroad between working for free in order to gain the experience I need to get my dream graduate job (I mean, I’m in thousands of pounds of debt thanks to my studies and I’ve got bills to pay, but of COURSE I want to work as an unpaid intern), or working jobs which aren’t really suited to my degree, but keep the money coming in.


I’ve done a lot of fun things in my year of being a graduate. I’ve worked on freelance gigs, I’ve published articles, I’ve travelled all over the place – but the weird thing is that my degree played absolutely no part in any of these achievements. I could have done them all regardless, based on my own abilities rather than the fact that I now have a 2:1 attached to my name.


I’m not a naive person in the slightest, but it’s weird wrapping your head around the idea that once Uni has spat you out, you’re on your own, facing debt, unpromising career perspectives and everything else. I’m one year a graduate and nothing seems to have happened just yet. I’ll keep working hard and I’ll keep my options open, but it’s hard not to be disenfranchised by a system which promises you everything and then leaves you with nothing.