If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen that it’s now been a year since I graduated from the University of Leicester. I did a little summary post on my Instagram about the things that I’ve learnt, but I wanted to write a full post that lets you all into what I’ve been getting up to since last July. So here you have it, what’s life really been like since I graduated?
It has gone by pretty quickly and it’s been a very up and down year. I’ve had a few difficult situations with jobs, felt both closer to and further apart from my friends, settled into a new flat, moved back home and been on furlough. If you’d have told me this time last year that I’d be working part time for my dad’s company on a weird thing called furlough because of a global pandemic, I’d have laughed you out the room before asking you back in to say “yeah fair enough, life is pretty crazy so I can actually believe it”.
When I first graduated, I felt really excited for what my life was now to hold. After all I had just got a degree that was supposed to open up so many doors for me. I was moving to London a week after graduating and I was really looking forward to it. Even though I didn’t have a job I was moving to the capital and just felt excited.
Of course it was a risk moving without a job but I was lucky to have my boyfriend that was moving for work to help me and my parents were my ‘guarantor’. Basically if I couldn’t find a job the people around me would be very annoyed as I’d need them to pay my way through until I did (luckily it didn’t come to that).
I had a job interview in the May, and I was invited back for a second interview which took place in July (I went travelling in June and they said they’d wait for me so it looked promising). However, when I got to the second interview it became clear that the role I was hoping to get had been filled and they’d decided to interview me for a new role that I’d not been told about, and had no qualifications for. Of course I didn’t get it.
Three weeks later I was offered the original role. How am I meant to feel when my first experience of going for a job was so random and unsettling? I was offered this role the same day as another one so I faced my first choice as a graduate. It was nice to be in demand but the option was clear which one to go with – not the one that had messed me about.
I’d sat in my new, cosy (read small) flat applying for role after role for two weeks and managed to get one, much to my delight. Two weeks of applying and I’d sorted myself out and landed a job in London, maybe being a graduate was all up from there.
Wrong. I spent two weeks at my new job and the culture was a big fat no from me. I made friends there though that I still chat to now which is a real positive from the whole experience. However, I really felt like I’d let my family down when I told them I was going to leave after just a month. It wasn’t an easy decision but I felt so so unhappy and didn’t want to become trapped.
I am fortunate, I know that, to have had my dad offer me the job opening at his PR company. Had they not been hiring I don’t know where I’d be now. So I traded in my new job in London to commuting to Peterborough some days and working from home by myself others.
Having worked at the company for several periods before, I knew everyone and it felt so familiar and lovely to be working there full time. It’s posed its challenges, from accidentally calling my boss dad in meetings (anyone else that works for a parent will know this pain) to feeling like no one really likes me, they just have to because of the connection – I know that this isn’t true but for a worrier like me it has been a common thought. Oh and also commuting to a different city has had its challenges too.
Almost a year in my job and I do still feel this way at times. I majorly suffer from impostor syndrome, it’s hard not to when you don’t think you exactly earnt the job. I felt like I’d made a bad decision moving to London and paying all of my salary on renting and commuting when I didn’t need to, especially when approximately two beers is enough to finish off my monthly budget.
Since joining the team on a three month contract, I asked to stay full time and I think – impostor syndrome again – that was something they were happy to offer me. In December, I went for a bit of an interview to take up a new role through the company, kind of being outsourced, and that made me feel odd to say the least. It was more money and a great opportunity, but it meant commuting the same distance across London and doing something day to day that I knew I didn’t particularly enjoy.
Now here’s a strange one to navigate, how do you turn down a job when someone is sat opposite you offering it to you and hoping you’ll say yes? Blog post coming when I work that one out… but yes, I turned it down and felt like I’d made both the best and worst decision. Jobs are confusing.
Anyway, I am still with the company and I’m enjoying it more and more as I adjust to working life. I think mostly it’s a confidence thing, feeling like I don’t deserve my job, wondering if I’ve made the right decisions, and not feeling confident in my everyday tasks in the role.
I’m now living in London again after taking some time back home due to the pandemic. Which was incredibly lovely to spend time with my family and be back where I grew up. My boyfriend and I moved out at 4 hours notice, we’d planned to move in with friends but jobs fell through due to the virus so off we went back to my family home. It was a bit chaotic but I felt so much relief when I got home and saw my wonderful family and dog, Henry, again.
A couple of days later my brother came back too, so we had another opportunity to live as a family altogether again and I can’t lie, it was strange and scary what was going on in the world but I wouldn’t change the time I’ve had back with my family. And now, having moved back out, I miss them all a lot and I’m having to teach myself how to be independent again.
In terms of working through the last few months, it has been a challenge. While I’m used to working from home, I wasn’t used to the entire team working from home (and also living with my boss!) So it took a bit of getting used to. I’ve spent three full weeks on furlough, and the rest working full time until July where I’ve been working 3 days and on furlough 2 days.
I’m sure many didn’t expect this start to their career, whether you’ve graduated and got yourself a job that’s now been completely flipped on its head or if you’re searching for a role and are up against hundreds, even thousands, of other applicants.
So, my life story aside, here are a few more things that I’ve learnt in my first year of graduate life.
No one’s actually got it all together
I know people running their own business, out every night of the week, on big fancy grad schemes or in seemingly cool jobs, and they’re not happy. There are probably things that you’re aspiring to achieve because someone else has it, but it’s the one thing keeping them up at night. Don’t take things at face value.
At this age, it’s quite a weird concept to see people you know showing off things on their social media that you know actually make them sad. Whether they consider themselves to have achieved something truly great, but the process to get there has made them really stressed and upset. Or maybe they’re able to afford to eat out four times a week on their big salary, but they really hate their job.
Social media is not an accurate representation of life. I try my hardest to post honest accounts of my life, from tough days at work where I’m filled with self-doubt, to bad mental health days where I can’t get things right. But sometimes it is hard to not get swept up in the false, glamorous portrayals.
I might look like I have it together, decent job, wonderful flat in London, in a great relationship and living it up in the capital, but I hope (hope may be the wrong word) the start of this post has shown that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and my self-doubt is what really stops me. It’s not all as it seems on Instagram and LinkedIn (bloomin’ LinkedIn making me feel like everyone else is Director of a company at 22).
No job is worth your mental health
Coming home every night from work and crying is not a nice thing to experience. No job, no title, amount of money or perks is worth you being miserable for.
Sure, work is hard and stressful quite often and we can’t quit at the first sight of these things. But if you’re being bullied at all or made to feel inadequate and it’s becoming detrimental to your mental health, you are allowed to leave.
It’s always best to have another job to go to. Whether that be going from a 9-5 to a job in a bar, whatever it is, if it makes you feel better then don’t worry about what anyone else might have to say about it.
Learning to enjoy it is the best thing you can do
Another job rejection? Great. Take time to be upset if it’s something you’d consider your dream role, but don’t dwell if it isn’t. Once you’ve had a bit of time to be sad about it, pick your head up and learn something from it. If you said something really cringey in an interview or if you made a spelling mistake on your CV, laugh about it and correct it for the next time.
Not got any money left? As long as you’re not being irresponsible with money and you’re enjoying everything you spend it on, then it’s fine. Throw out these ideas that you have to buy a house and travel the world by 25. If you’d rather spend your money on meals out, new clothes and weekend trips – do it, and enjoy it when you do!
I kind of feel like this post doesn’t really have a purpose, but I’ve been wanting to share my story for a while. You might have read it and though ‘okay that doesn’t sound bad at all’ or you might think ‘it’s nice to know that someone else feels that way’.
I hope that your main take away from this post is that no one’s life is as it seems on social media or your perception of how fancy their job may be. There isn’t a linear path to follow after university and that’s possibly the most important mindset shift you can and should have as a graduate.
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