It’s officially one year since I left University. So it’s a year since I packed up my cosy student room in York, crammed it into my Mini and entered the real, adult world.
I had no job, no income, and no plans bar a handful of fun things with my friends and family that was only going to drain the last dregs of my money.
The post high from university doesn’t last long. You’re uncertain what’s going to happen next, you dread to look at your bank balance and you’ve moved further away from the dreamy people you saw every single day.
It’s an adjustment to say the least.
The first month or so after leaving your university can feel pretty lonely, but it passes. I felt that way and wrote a post about it last June, but thankfully within another month everything turned around. I got two jobs as a Features Editor and a Drama/Singing Teacher, and a place on a masters.
I had an income, would live at home, save money, get paid to write (which is the end goal anyway), get a masters, and have the foundations of an adult life. It all came together very quickly, that I sometimes forget how bleak finishing university with no direction was.
Fast forward to year after university and so much has changed.
I’ve learnt a lot about real life, for example why nobody our age can afford housing, journalism, how to stretch 14 holiday days across a year, publishing, relationships, saving, creative writing, bills, and writing for TV.
I’m at the same job, but working on a different publication. I’m now Editor of Architecture Magazine and my beautiful first issue came out into the world a few weeks ago. It’s exciting to be in charge of a magazine, especially one that celebrates creativity and innovative designers. But it still feels very surreal.
The most shocking part of the past year though has been working with a production company on a TV series pitch. I would never in a million years thought that would realistically happen. Yet, I did have it down on my list of things to achieve this year (writing a script)… I just thought I’d be the only person reading it.
Working with the team and attending their events has been a massive insight into the industry, and I’ve learnt so much from them all and each meeting, draft and swanky event.
I’m in quite a different position one year after University, so I thought I’d share advice that I’d go back and tell myself and anyone going through that time post-university.
Say yes to things.
I think this is important in life in general, if you’re invited to events (professional or personal), last minute plans, even a pizza round your friends, say yes. By saying yes and going there’s many possible outcomes, by saying no, there’s only one.
I took this approach and ended the summer with two jobs, a place on an MA and several dates. It was a busy time, but so worth it!
Make things happen for yourself
If you want to go to a concert ask people and go, or book it and ask them after!
If you want to be a writer, then you have to be writing and getting your writing out there; no one else can read it from your laptop.
I knew I wanted to write for a living as I just paid £27K for the privilege, so I applied for masters courses in Creative Writing, and I continued to write on my blog.
I am always torn about whether I should bother with my blog, but then a production company emailed me after reading one of my posts and wanted to work together. You never know who is reading, or watching your platforms or social accounts.
At every interview I went to, the employer had read my blog, it was a portfolio of writing to assess before they’d interviewed me.
There’s no rush!
It is so hard not to get caught in the panic trap of what’s next and making quick decisions about your job, location, house.
Take your time to figure things out, maybe get a flexible job over the summer to clock up some pay and then decide later what’s best for you. It’s tempting to organise everything quickly to get out of the state of uncertainty, but there’s no rush!
I was desperate to find a job, and thankfully I did after a few months working at Starbucks. But I wish I’d taken more time to travel over the summer, as it becomes more difficult with a limited amount of holiday days.
I’m still figuring out where to live, where to rent and that’s one year after university! It’s next on the agenda though, having saved up enough and paid off my student overdraft.
Save when & where you can
Always have a slight buffer as it means if a friend messages and asks you if you want to go to a concert, weekend away, night out. Then you don’t have to turn them down simply because you’ve had a Deliveroo every Friday for the past month.
Just have a small amount for any last minute things, as trust me there will be plenty.
Apply for everything
I almost didn’t apply for the job I’m currently in as I thought the position of ‘Features Editor’ was quite far fetched. I was realistically never going to get it.
I had an English degree, a blog, done a week’s work experience at the Daily Mail, I’d written some plays, and that was about it. I had no real professional experience, but I got an interview and got the job, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
If a job seems slightly out of reach, apply for it anyway, just pick any jobs that interest you. Type a variety of words into Indeed or LinkedIn and you’ll find tons, then you can upload your CV and covering letter and apply in bulk, as you’ll probably only hear back from a handful.
Do what’s right for you
That might be moving home to figure things out, saving some money or it might be moving to the other side of the world, teaching abroad, or working in a cafe for six months to fund several months of travelling. There’s no clear path, so don’t feel pressured to find one, just do what is right for you.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
It’s hard not to, we’re all guilty of it, but you cannot compare yourself to other people.
Life is a crazy wonderful ride and everyone is going on little unexpected turns and adventures. There is no direct path of comparison between you, so there is no need to try and find one.
No one has lived the live you’ve lived.
I grew up in Peterborough, I had a good education, was incredibly inspired by my parents (both teachers), was close with my family, did a bunch of mad activities – amdram, musical theatre, a couple of sprint triathlons.
I lost my Dad at 16. I got my GCSEs & A-Levels, then I didn’t go out much as I had depression. Then I got university and always went out and had a ball. After that I developed anxiety, lost weight, gained weight, maintained weight. At the same time, I fundraised for Thorpe Hall, blogged for Sue Ryder, did a speech at St James’ Palace and opened the new TH hospice with the Duchess of Gloucester.
Also, I wrote plays, performed in plays, directed plays, had CBT, spent time with my bonkers relatives, travelled with friends, drove across the West coast of the USA. I also lost my Grandparents, moved to York, moved home, gained more family members, went to weddings and funerals. I had times when I drank too much or ate too much. Other times I had a darn ass good time and then I also had snotty hefty teary panics, and made myself laugh more times than I’d care to admit.
No one else is made up of the mad concoction of unexpected adventures that you are, so don’t compare yourself, don’t criticise yourself and damn well don’t stop being yourself.
How are you feeling one year after University?