Life After Uni

It has been almost two years since I graduated from university and waved goodbye to cheap drinks, living with mates, and trying to find things to do in my spare time that doesn’t involve actually studying.

It has been almost 18 months since I started a full-time job and waved goodbye to spare time, lie-ins, and the prospect of having any mid-week clubbing nights.

So, as I sit in an overly-priced hipster café, spending what would have been a quarter of my weekly food budget on a flat white, what’s happened in that time and more importantly, what tips would I give to those who are still in the non-reality universe of university?

Let’s start before the beginning of the end of university. I was in second year and the inevitable ‘careers week’ had commenced. As an English student I was promised the world and told that with a degree in English, ‘everything and anything was possible’. That with a degree that glorified knowing how to write well, read well, or understand why a book written 300 years ago meant x, y and z, I could become a marketing maverick, a hero of HR, or the slickest of salesman and make my millions in the City. It all seemed a tad over-dramatic and made me question whether the careers officer within the department had had one too many coffees that morning or 1 too many late nights, or both.

Don’t get me wrong, it was all very inspiring and within 1 hour of the final lecture, I was putting together a CV that would make Richard Branson personally hand over his ownership of Virgin and give me an 8-figure salary at the age of 21. And when I took a bit of time to do some research into legitimate jobs that accepted an English degree as a justified qualification, there it was in black & white – the world was indeed my oyster. Maybe the careers officer was speaking some sense…

So, let’s fast forward 18 months and I’m there in the graduation ceremony, receiving my certificate and handshake from someone I was lead to believe was quite important – though I had never seen them before in my life. I said my goodbyes to my fellow graduates and went home.

Now at this point I already had a full-time job in London. And it falls quite nicely into the randomness of suggestions that was originally put forward. I was, and am still, working as a recruiter. Specifically, in the life sciences. I had therefore gone from studying short stories, linguistics, American West literature, and how to write for children, and ended up putting very highly skilled/ scientists into jobs with the world’s biggest pharmaceuticals.

Why, you may ask?

Well, this is where I can give some actual advice and hopefully give some reality to the big bad world that is often considered as the ‘upside down’ when at university – for those who don’t get the popular Netflix series reference, it means the complete utter messed up confusing place that shouldn’t really exist but actually does.

Leaving university is a huge step. A leap I would argue is far more shocking and unpredictable than the one you took moving to a city you didn’t know at the age of 18 to ‘study’.

And it comes with all sorts of twists and turns that you want to control but cannot. Whether it’s the never-ending rejections from your dream job which just seems outright unfair. Or whether it’s the stark reality that finding a job isn’t quite as simple as maybe you first envisaged.

The one piece of advice I would give to anyone approaching the end of a brilliant 3 or 4 year spell with uni is to take each knock as it comes and ride the waves of the ebb and flow of job rejections.

It is going to happen, whether you like it or not. It doesn’t matter if you spend 3 hours doing an online application and put as much effort into it as you would do for a piece of your dissertation. There will either be someone more experienced as you or you might just not be the right fit for the job. Remember, for every you, there is thousands of others – all trying to do the same thing.

This isn’t to say you should plumit and think there’s no hope for you out there. Of course there is. And there is every possibility that you will get the dream job offer 2 weeks after leaving uni. 

But the reality of it is that you probably won’t.

Therefore, appreciate you’re 21/22 years old and that there is nothing wrong with testing the waters with new jobs and careers you never knew existed.

My dream was to become a writer and to earn a few pennies for the words I publish. And this dream is still there. However, just because your dream doesn’t require funding, your everyday activities will.

Get into work. Embrace new opportunities and remember, nobody does one job for life. You never know, you might love being the HR consultant that you never knew existed.


*This is a guest blog post originally written by Matthew Jenner who has his own blog The Collection of Things.

Follow Matthew on Twitter,Instagram and Google+

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