I’ve been in education my entire life. I followed the school, college, university structure and found myself comfortable safely enclosed in the education system. My mind was an endless pool of dreams, aspirations and possibilities. I felt like I could achieve anything I wanted to.
After school, I packed my bags and moved out of my family home in Merseyside to embark on a new adventure studying a creative course at a university in London. I have always known I have wanted to work in a creative industry. I would constantly preach to friends and family about how I would never work in a place that didn’t make me happy every single day. During my time at university, my dreams continued to grow and felt that the world was my oyster then more than ever before. I was quickly making lots of friends who were all living with the same belief that we could achieve anything we wanted. I make university sound easy and glamorous. But yes, it was years of stress, anxiety, highs, lows and endless nights in the library. I worked in bars to support myself financially alongside help from my parents and student loans. It always felt like the stress and tiredness would never end. But that was okay, because at the end of my studies I was going to dive into a fantastic career that would have me skipping to work every day.
My time in education was finally coming to an end. After handing in my dissertation and exhibiting my interactive artwork at a well-known London gallery, I felt on top of the world. It then came to graduation day – the best day of my life. London’s Southbank was filled with hopeful graduates ready to start their careers.
After graduation, I flung my backpack on and set off to travel around Cambodia and Thailand alone for 3 months. I was completely out of my comfort zone but having the absolute time of my life. I met hundreds of fellow backpackers, shared stories, explored local cultures and vlogged every single day of my trip. My time travelling was amazing, but on my way home I didn’t find myself upset that I was leaving these beautiful countries. I was excited to start this career I had been dreaming of my whole life.
Once I returned to the UK, it was a completely different story.
I moved back into my family home, which I absolutely loved because I was once again surrounded my all my family and friends. Sat with a heart full of hope, I began applying for jobs. Months started to go by, applying for around 20 jobs a day, most applications taking a fair few hours to complete. Every morning I would check my emails in hope that I would be flooded with job offers, but nothing. After years in education being told you’re the leaders of the future, how could I have been so ignorant to reality?
I was applying for jobs that I didn’t even want and I just couldn’t get them. I signed up to various recruitment agencies and nothing even came from them. I spent months doing the same thing, applying for jobs all day, waking up to rejections/no replies. I began to feel at the lowest point I ever had. I wouldn’t bother to get out of bed until the afternoon, began getting slower at job applications. I felt like I was blocked in a cave and would never be able to succeed. I felt like my entire life in education was a waste of time, like I wasn’t good enough to do anything and it was a really lonely and daunting time.
One day I sat up, and decided this wasn’t who I am and I needed to do something about it. I did the one thing I never thought I would and joined a gym. Exercise began to help a lot; it gave me a reason to get up and out. I started volunteering at my local cadet unit and it felt good to feel like I was making a difference. I began to feel good about myself again. I was so concerned about not having a job and money that I had lost any sense of what I was trying to achieve. I decided that I would start contacting companies that weren’t advertising any jobs or internships and I would tell them why I would be a benefit to them even if it meant working for free. I decided I would rather work day and night balancing evening bar work and internships. I began visiting companies, attending start up business conferences and networking events and I was back to feeling hopeful. If you’re a post-graduate, unless you’ve been lucky, I’m guessing you’ve been through a similar wave of post-graduate blues. I am here to tell you, that you are good enough, you have not wasted your time and university and you can go out in the world and achieve whatever you want. As cliché as it sounds if you really believe in your ideas, they CAN happen.
I continued to put my work online, no matter how much I thought I was wasting my time. One day, I was sat doing my everyday routine of applying for countless jobs and a message popped up on my ‘creative’ page on Facebook. I was amazed, it was actually someone who used to teach me way back in primary school who had found my photography work online and told me all about a great technology company they had started. After a few meetings, I began working for the company 5 months after returning from my travels. I now get to work in a creative environment where I can challenge myself every single day and I absolutely love it. You may say it was only 5 months, but when you leave university with so much hope and expectation… 5 months is a really long time. Keep going graduates. Do what you love, make it happen!