Written by Max Ibbotson, Final Year English Language Student and Careers Service Student Blogger
I like the pub: it’s warm, there’s little damp and the beer’s on tap. That makes it better than my student house. On all three counts. Even better, if you go during the afternoon, a beer is cheaper than a Taste the Difference mini pork pie. Belting.
Now, imagine my deep horror as I come to the realisation that my idyllic beer-and-pork-scratching haven is collapsing in on me. A life I have loved and cherished and forgotten good chunks of for 3 years is being dismantled. I have to get a job and I’m terrified.
“But I don’t want to!” “No one would hire me!” “Happy Hour is still on for another two hours!” Try as you might, there’s no avoiding this one. Sure, you gained a load of friends, debt and transferable skills, but it’s time to face up to the fact that you’re finally at the end of your educational road – or tether, for those of you who are more than ready to ditch the exams and endless masses of coursework.
But life after uni sounds complicated: I have to find a job and a flat, and I’ve not a Scooby Doo what to do and how to do it. Being a student is easy – struggle to wake up, go to a lecture, go for a nap. Rinse and repeat. And that was acceptable because everyone knows that’s what being a student consists of. Now I have to become an adult and I don’t think I’m ready.
I think I’ve worked out what I want my career to be. For about ten years I’ve been kicking around ideas for what real job to get. All sorts of ideas but none that really stuck, mostly because I never really wanted to do them. As I’ve got to the end of uni, I’ve shaped some sort of idea of what I want to do when I finish but it’s not really filling me with enthusiasm for life in the Real World™. There’s a good chance I might not like it, or that there aren’t many jobs going, or that I just won’t be any good at it. I’ll have finished uni without anything other than an extra two stone and bags under my eyes.
Even though I might have decided what I want to do, I’ve no idea what it’s going to entail. If I want to be a copywriter, I could be working in an office 9-5, or I could be working freelance from home. Maybe I’ll end up working for an advertising agency and work with loads of different clients, or I might be just working in-house for one company. There seems to be a never-ending uncertainty with finding and pursuing a career that’s exciting, but the fear of not knowing is enormous.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I’ll be homeless in a month. Getting a student house was a walk in the park: nab the first one that pops up on Manchester Student Homes in November and don’t worry about it for 8 months. With proper flats in the city, you have to think about how close you are to tram stops, parking spaces, and whether the balcony faces south or north. (Also, no one tells you just how expensive council tax is. It’s, like, really expensive – I couldn’t believe it.)
In a vague attempt to try and cure my neuroses, I asked some friends who’ve graduated – and actually got a job – whether things are as bad as I worry they might be.
According to Sara, although you lose some of the freedom you had as a student, it doesn’t completely disappear. “Accept that your flexibility is gone: you have to go to work. It shouldn’t stop you doing things though, you just have to make sure you forward plan a bit more.”
Sara is now a staff nurse, so it’s promising that after a year of intense 13-hour night shifts her worldview is still fairly positive!
James was in a similar position a year ago to the one I’m in now. He didn’t have a job and if he didn’t get one soon he wouldn’t be able to pay rent. Besides actually getting a job, James’ advice is to not leave things ‘till the last minute because “it causes way more stress.” There doesn’t seem to be a solution to finding which job you want to do, but James reckons you should try and go to as many interviews as possible. “It’s good experience. Even if it’s for a job you don’t really want, all of the interview processes can be proper different so you can build up more confidence. And when it comes to a job you actually do want, you can know how to prepare and you’ll be nowhere near as nervous.”
Sara did give one last piece of advice: “don’t age yourself too quickly.” By this, she meant that you’re still young – getting a job doesn’t change that and you should carry on doing the things that 20-odd-year olds do. Obviously you’ll have a job and more responsibilities, but you’re still young and you don’t have to waste that just because you’re no longer a student.
I suppose the thing that is really driving my fear is the fact that I just don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m sure it’ll be fine and things will work out, it’s just the fear of the unknown. What I do know though is that I’ll miss being a student – I already do. The lie-ins and the pork pies and the pints. But last orders have been rung: it’s time to go to work.