Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Truth: Gradulthood

University was not an idea that I was always keen on. After college I felt frazzled so took a year out and worked in H&M. While not the most productive of choices it allowed me to time to relax and look back while also giving me a really good idea of what I did not want to do with my life.

My first year of university was hard. Doing BA Fashion Journalism I didn't feel like I fitted in with the gorgeous girls on my class who always had amazing designer shoes, bags, rings and anything else you could imagine. I wasn't comfortable in myself yet and hadn't really decided what I wanted to do. Over the summer of first year I realised that music journalism was really what I had a desire for. I have always loved music with all of my heart, and people told me I am good at writing. I  really do enjoy writing and putting together pieces so thought I might combine it with music in my career choice. I am still disgruntled to this day that my lecturers wouldn't let me change to the music journalism course at my university, instead I targeted my work as much as I could towards the music industry and began getting my writing published. I started writing for Virgin Music in Sep 2009 and still do occasionally to this day. After this came stints with Tantrum Magazine, an internship at Q Magazine and Disorder Magazine where I interviewed Viva Brother and The Wombats. 

My third year held even more placements and writing opportunities which I relished. Working on these publications outside of uni gave me real dedication with my work, knowing that when I graduated it would all pay off and I might be lucky enough to land a job. My final major project at uni split my love for fashion and music and gave me the final boost I needed to get my much wanted 2:1. I was ecstatic the day our results were announced after making myself so ill my doctor thought I had Mumps (I didn't), I had achieved the grade I had wanted and worked towards for three long years.

Graduation day came and I felt so full of hope it was unbelievable. Here I was, a graduate with a good degree from a decent University with three years worth of work experience and published written work under my belt. Surely in a years time I would have the job of my dreams and be working my way up a publication to map out a wonderful career for myself. How wrong I was.

Nearly a year and a half on since finishing my degree things have gotten steadily worse. While I have worked for Gig Wise and 1883 Magazine since, had my work published in Company magazine and interviewed Alison Mosshart, Feeder, Enter Shikari, Dry The River and so many other people I forget, I have never once been paid for all my hours of work. Not that I am complaining. I have been offered some amazing opportunities which I will continue to cherish, however I do feel like I was promised something a little bit more.

Back in March my retail job unexpectedly cut my hours from 48 hours a week to just 24. This meant I could no longer afford rent and had to move home to my parents house and sign onto job seekers allowance to survive. While some people may scoff, snarl or sneer at this, I do not. I feel let down. I was turned down for interviews from Vodafone, Pets at Home and even H&M with a 2:1 degree in journalism. Those three months I was unemployed were possibly three of the most depressing of my life, it never crossed my mind on graduation day last year that this would be my life. What made it harder was class mates and friends landing their dream jobs doing things like working for Armani in New York and on magazines I adore. 

Being a graduate is hard, more and more people are getting good degrees for less and less jobs and being told that University is the only way. In retrospect I feel I either did the wrong degree or made the wrong choice caving into the pressure to go at all. I feel that in three years I spent wracking up over £25K of debt I could have worked my way into the position I am now and probably have that job I dream of at a magazine. I believe I am a hard working and enthusiastic writer who occasionally comes out with a brilliant turn of phrase and could interview a rock (previous experience with certain musicians proves this). Yet I am currently working at Topshop, living at home and wondering what the hell went wrong and what I can do to put it right.

I know I am not the only person out there in this position and hope an insight into my experience with University and the graduate life is informative and helpful to somebody else. If nothing else writing this has helped me look back on all the good things I have done and feel proud, knowing that I do what I do for the sheer love I hold for music, writing and the satisfaction of seeing my work published.

R x 

(P.S - I'll be back on Saturday with something a little more light hearted!)


  1. You're right, university isn't everything. My old school was pretty crappy with providing information on options where to go after college. They basically said- go to uni. So I went. Never liked it. I went to university twice, both being pressurised. I didn't complete either course. I have come to realisation that the degree is not always necessary when I manage to get jobs fine through many many rich experiences I had on my CV, it always manage to impress the employers enough despite being deaf.

    Now I am running a successful art business without a degree and all my friends couldn't believe their eyes!

    This is such a great post and will benefit many people who are looking for some real advices re: university. Thank you for taking out your time pouring it out on here it must be a little difficult to do this.

    Keep going with the more experiences and of course focusing on the paid work, you deserve it! Hope you find something so good for your very soon

    The Young Bridget Jones

  2. This is such an honest, true to life post. When I started uni I didn't like my course so decided to change. In hindsight I had no idea what I wanted to do but uni really did seem like the only option so I ended up choosing another course that I don't necessarily dislike but don't think it's what I want to do in terms of a career.

    I agree there should be more information out there about what to do after college/sixth form. When I look at my friends now who didn't go to uni they all have relatively well paid jobs, can afford a good car and are financially stable. I have thousands of pounds worth a debt and after uni will no doubt move back in with my parents and try and climb up the job ladder.

    I also find a lot of my friends who graduated in writing or music courses are expected to do a lot of work for free. I don't really agree with it, whilst the experience is good, it's the money that is needed. You wouldn't ask a qualified plumber to fix a leaking pipe for free.

    Hopefully people read your post and consider other options before uni, whilst the benefits may be great, there's definitely a down side to it and I'm glad you've shared it :)


  3. I have always been scared of going to university only to regret it for the rest of my life, and your experience just scares me even more. I think it's such a shame that you've done so amazingly at university only for thing to go worse for you. I have just started going to university, simply because of the fact that I have to to get the job which I want. I'm not going because I want to, or because I want the experience (I haven't made any friends yet and don't drink, so the experience was never a big deal). I do enjoy the course but would have much rather got a job by working my way up with real hands-on experience, however I was living in a little town which has no experience opportunities (I've tried) and miles and miles away from London so travelling there wasn't an option, either. I am now at university just hoping that it works to my advantage in the future, rather than it just being a complete waste of time.

  4. Everything you've said here just mimics my post graduate life. It is so disheartening to know your efforts don't seem to be paying off, especially when everyone else around you seems to be flying on ahead in their amazing lives. We can only hope that one day it will all become worth it. You are a great writer, and clearly have the passion for it, you will get there :)

    sara x

  5. Oh bless you. I didn't go to university and I really regret it, mostly because now I'm not on a level pegging with everyone else (and now a single mother, so pretty limited regarding my options!). You definitely do need to go to university nowadays but frankly, looking at my friends, you need to do an MA or get really lucky to stand out. The whole situation's ridiculous. Writing is one of those things that you're seemingly just expected to do for free for bloody ages - it's annoying for me, so I can't imagine how irritating it is for you, considering that you have a degree! Hope it all picks up for you soon. Felicity xx

  6. nice to see such an honest view on university! I originally really didn't want to go to university because I just thought whats the point in all that debt if you're not guaranteed a job at the end but I stayed an extra year at college to decide on what I wanted to do and it was then I decided I wanted to do Fashion Media & Promotion and I am really glad I did it but I still wonder about where I'm gonna be after my third year. Fashion is so competitive! I'm sure you will get your big break soon :) xx

  7. Reading something like this scares me a little as I'm only one year off graduating, however at the same time I'm glad you posted an honest truth! I hope you find your place soon lovely :) I'm sure you know that all good things come to those who wait

    louisejoyb x

  8. This is such an honest ad touching post lovely, and I am certain with all of your hard work; and talent you WILL get there. I always feel the opposite as I left university and am now trying for a job, but always feel it will be harder without a degree. I will keep all my fingers crossed something comes up for you; good things come to those that wait (and hopefully soon your waiting will be over!) xx

  9. I feel your pain, I graduated in July and was so excited, but naive in thinking I would get a job straight away. There's no shame in being on job seekers either, I've had to be because I had no other choice, I can't even afford to do unpaid work experience because I'm so broke.
    But I do agree with Olivia, just keep trying and pushing for what you want, because other people give up. Amazing things will come your way because you're clearly very talented.
    Rebecca x

  10. This post is so honest and so true for so many graduates. I have just completed an internship and recently got asked if I could do another. As soon as I mentioned travel expenses they ignored my emails... It's ridiculous - how can companies think that people can afford to move to London and pay rent, travel expenses, food etc without any help whatsoever.

    You've done so well to get all the experience you have and I'm sure you will get something soon. You just need that one person to give you a break and you're there :)

    Katrina x

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  13. .... hey what i meant by the word ''survivor'' ... is that you've come this far and from reading this post you don't seem to have given up! :) I was just being sincere!!

    Good luck in the future!! :)

  14. Even though we did completely different degrees and therefore have different ambitions I can totally relate to this post! Hard work for no pay (although good experiences), a good graduate degree and can't get a job. Can totally relate, here's to working hard and hoping it pays off.. :)

  15. Feel your pain Robyn in the same boat and I graduated 3 years ago x