Life after University: One Year On

Disclaimer: This is going to be a long post. Thank you to anyone who chooses to read the whole thing 😂. I’ll link shorter uni related posts at the bottom of this one, if you fancy a read!

A year ago to this day, I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a first class degree in English. A whole 365 days has gone by since I donned a cap and gown, grabbed my degree certificate (which I can never seem to find whenever I come to need it!) and said goodbye to three years of reading, writing essays and wishing every single piece of literature didn’t in some way relate to Freud.

I thought I’d write this post not only as a way to reflect on how my life has changed from that moment to now but also as a way to – hopefully – give you some guidance as well.

University prepares you for graduation the only way it knows how: your lecturers just have to preface that this particular lecture/seminar is the “last one you’ll attend” (unless, they say with a smile, you choose a masters), there’s a constant reminder that you must fill out the end of year surveys to tell staff where they’ve gone right (creating modules with no presentations? Big tick) and where they’ve gone wrong (assuming people will participate when they are, in reality, probably hungover? Not a good move) and your bank account does a little weep when the cost of the cap, the gown and whatever else you choose to do over the graduation period is all taken into account.

What university doesn’t prepare you for, unless you go and see a career’s adviser (something I would suggest you do, because I do regret not taking advantage of this myself), is what comes next. In my head, the only thing I’ve ever been aware I could do – and really want to do – is write. Except I didn’t get the dream writing job I assumed I was destined to get. I mean, surely all the English students that don’t become teachers find themselves a writing job straight out of uni, right?

Wrong. Finding a job like that is hard, really hard. Especially in the north, I’ve found. Plus, it’s very much how good you are or who you happen to know. This led me down a rabbit hole of appealing – but annoyingly underpaid – internships. Though I applied for, and eventually interviewed for, a few of these internship type jobs I didn’t get these positions.

At first, I assumed the world was over. Getting knocked back knocked my confidence and made me question myself and whether or not the three years I’d spent slaving over text books, barely expanding my social circle and fretting over something whenever the opportunity presented itself. This period of rejection that spanned a few months after graduation – which is supposed to be the point where you’re enjoying yourself, finding yourself and getting used to the world of work – and really made me question if my degree and the proudness I eventually felt about earning it was worth it.

Eventually, I realised these things happen. Sometimes you do all the work, make your CV as impressive as possible and still don’t fit the requirements. It didn’t mean I shouldn’t be any less proud of myself for getting my degree. All it really meant is that I wasn’t the right fit for that job, or the one after that or the one after that. Of course, to sound very well-meaning-relative, there’s a career out there for everyone. I didn’t find my dream career straight out of uni last year, and I don’t think I’ve found it a year after, but I’m beginning to realise finding my “dream job” might take time – or I might not actually find it – and that’s ok.

I may not be living it up in a swanky office, or rubbing shoulders with other great writers, but I’m perfectly content with trying to get a book published one day and writing blog posts. I used to think my words would be read by thousands of people one day (they still might) but, for now, I’m content if one person finds comfort in the words I write.

Fast forward to now and post graduate life a year on is definitely not what I expected. I didn’t think I’d be navigating life during a pandemic, I didn’t think my first full time job would take place entirely at home and – as for knowing what I’m doing – I’m still in the position I was a year ago. Nowhere near certain, but I’m getting there.

For more posts about university life:

University posts

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6 thoughts on “Life after University: One Year On

  1. Hi Jen! I am also a university graduate, I graduated this month though. A lot of what you said in this post I could relate to. I am one of the lucky ones that has a graduate job lined up for this September but I agree that university doesn’t prepare you for life after graduation. It’s easy to forget but its ok not to have something lined up straight after university, so many university graduates struggle to get a job after university!

    I want to wish you the best of luck and I want to follow your journey, hence I have followed your blogs! I am here if you want to chat about anything 🙂

    Feel free to read my blogs as well, I talk a lot about mental health and university life, which I am sure you will be able to relate to!

    Liked by 1 person

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