I studied for a degree in English and Creative writing not because I knew I’d step out of my graduation garb into a successful career woman’s, but because I love literature. Consequently, it was easy to disregard the recurring ‘what are you going to do with that’ inquisition; it’s surprising how many strangers have shown such concern for my future.
Blissfully ignorant of the tribulations encompassed by life on the outskirts of the job market, I submitted my first applications with a surety I now find hilarious. It was only when Christmas lurked, and my rejection letter pile stack rivalled Santa’s Christmas post, that I began to despair of obtaining a fulfilling job. Graduate’s hunting for an entrance into that proud parent making world, will appreciate why I consider the phrase ‘experience required’, as something that Satan coined during a break from torching villains.
Like the bad student I was, (or good depending on your perspective), I’d spent my formative University years constructing cardboard forts, marrying my flat mate in a mock marriage, dancing on Cuba’s bar and gallivanting across the globe. I won’t ever regret this time, in fact, I urge every first year to dedicate some time to fort construction and bad dancing, (although you can skip on the fake marriage, in retrospect that was weird). What I’m here to advocate though, is the prompt gathering of ‘experience’. Unfortunately, whilst third year is generally when one starts hearing grownup life’s call, it’s also when you have the most work and least time to devote to preparation. Personally, I spent third year in hibernation with my text books and laptop. The thought of adding additional work to my load seemed implausible. Consequently, here I am five months after graduation, a ‘telephone marketing executive’ by night so that I can afford to be a witting mentor, cultural reviewer, literary researcher and marketer by day. In an ideal world, and a world I will live in by next year, the day time work of this writer will be what pays the rent. Just because that’s not the case now doesn’t mean I can’t make it so.
In summary, I have three nuggets of counsel to offer;
- Experience; you need it. Even if it means you have less summer holiday or forgo your hangover day, pester local companies for voluntary work. I can’t explain how much employers, who will receive hundreds of identical graduate applications, value these experiences.
- Ignore the implications of the ‘what are you going to do with that’ question. Even if there’s not a paved path leading you directly from University into your perfect career, doesn’t mean one can’t be made.
- Don’t Worry. I speak from the depths of the despondency and worry pit that graduates find so easy to fall into. Just because you don’t land your dream job the day after graduation doesn’t mean you aren’t ever going to get it.