Friday, 18 July 2014

University five years on: lessons learned by a graduate of '09

My class of '09
Amazingly, it has been five years since I graduated, and nearly eight years since I packed my bags and headed off for university.

After reading Liv Purvis's post on her decision not to go to uni, it got me thinking. Most of my generation has a degree these days. And whether you have achieved your goals by now or not, we all have one thing in common: the shared dream that our qualification will push us on to bigger and better things.

In my final year, the recession hit the UK and countless friends lost training contracts, graduate schemes and internships. It was far from easy. Some of the best students I knew struggled with unemployment and the overwhelming uncertainty that followed.

But five years on that all seems like a distant memory. Even the friends who didn't get the jobs they dreamt of when walking in to university at 21 years old, are happy in their new careers.

I have always known I wanted to be a journalist, and after five years hard slog I'm happy to say that I am. But it wasn't easy: I, like many other media types, struggled with getting my foot on the ladder at first. It's a common story for all my close journo friends - but take this as encouragement. If you want something badly enough and are prepared to work your heart out, you will get there like we did. There will be tears, depression, job loss, and a lot of days when you seriously question whether you are making the right decisions.

But it is worth it.

I never thought I'd be working for a website; I never thought I'd be working in local media. My dream was to work in fashion magazines but one of the best lessons I have learnt in the last five years is that versatility will get you everywhere. Being on the ground, talking to people and hearing their stories is what suits me best. I've been editor of a business magazine, and a simple reporter too - my career hasn't been as glamorous as that of a fash ed but I wouldn't change a second of it.

I hope, if you're sitting there, plagued with self-doubt, that this little post will show there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's no crime to be unsure of yourself, nor is it a problem if you take some time figuring out what you want to do. Enjoy yourself, you have your whole life to achieve your dreams. It may seem like you're standing on the edge of a cliff now but in five years, like me, you'll look back and smile, knowing that it was all worth it.

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