That scary place between education and career

While many people don’t take the trip to university and go into work at the tender age of 18 or even younger, I certainly couldn’t imagine being in full time work as soon as I had left Sixth Form – cue the comments about my immaturity. I can’t even begin to image, having been at university for quite a while more than the majority of people about getting a proper full time job and thinking about paying rent and bills in any more sense than splitting them six ways in a crummy, cheap university house share. I have, however, come to the conclusion that it’s not full time work that I should be afraid of, it’s that gap between completing your university modules, or even the last few weeks that you’re in high school if you’re finishing you educational journey there, and finding a job that will let you afford to live comfortably for the rest of your life – and more importantly, find something that you’re both good at and, importantly, enjoy.

While the scene may look the same – laptops, reports, notes and cups of coffee strewn about the place, the feeling, the anticipation and the consequences are completely different. I have to admit, I do miss the days of being a university student. I think we all go through the same stages of life: when we are in primary school, we can’t wait to get into high school and start out teenage life. When we are in high school, we can’t wait to go to college or university and start learning in more depth about something we really enjoy and choosing a career. When we are at college or university we can’t wait to start out adult lives with a career and independence. And when we are at the end of our education, we wish we could go back to primary school and do it all over again, because, despite how much we disliked teachers and schooling when we were in it, it’s a darn sight nicer to not have to worry about finding a job that will help us survive in this world and have to fend for ourselves. I certainly spoke the words “I can’t wait to be out of education” through my high school career and university career, but would give anything in the world to be able to be an eternal student right now!

At the point in my life where I am, looking for a career seems to be the hardest thing in the world – as one interviewer said to me the other day “there are plenty of jobs out there, but how many of them are careers”. And it’s completely true. I certainly leapt into a job when I first moved away from university because I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to find anything else that would mean I would be able to afford the rent and other essentials to live without having to transfer from my old job and be stuck in a minimum wage job in a new location – I wanted a career in the sector I wanted to be in. While money and a wage is an enticing part to any job, I certainly learned the hard way that the world of work after the part-time jobs of university is very different and when you have to do something for forty hours a week, you certainly need to make sure that it’s something that you really enjoy.

It’s not just the type of work you need to consider either, it’s the place and the people. That is certainly what put me off working any longer for the job that I was in. While I loved the job and the clients, being in a job where you are constantly asked why you’re not doing something or why you haven’t done something yet when after two months you have been expected to do tasks which could put others in danger yet haven’t received any training and are constantly talked down to, it’s really disheartening. I put my all into a career, and felt like I was constantly being bitched about behind my back for not instantly knowing how to do things without any training – which you know is something that your work are doing wrong when volunteers seem shocked that you haven’t received training for the task you are being asked to do, especially when it concerns the lives and health of other people. I am so glad to be out of that job.

However, now I am at the point where I need to seriously consider a career, and it’s tough. It’s really tough. Months filled with assessment centres, and job roles that are asking for graduates, but also want people who have experience – experience you can only have if you have worked in that sector before – something you can’t have unless someone will give you a career in that sector – something they won’t do unless you have the experience – it’s a vicious, ridiculous circle. It’s also incredibly tough as there are so many graduates at the moment, so many people who went to university because of the ease at which you could get into university in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s before the £9000 fee was introduced. Not that I agree with the change in fees – why limit the number of university places by who can afford it rather than just limit the number of places a university can offer meaning that only the students with the best grades can get in. But that’s a whole other rant!

Life after education is a tough time in anyones life, and finding a career that gives you all the needs and wants you have but is also something you thoroughly enjoy is very difficult to find, be it either by the number of jobs available or by the number of people going for the same job. It’s difficult to shine and know what a company exactly wants, as there is so many different qualities that people look for. This post has become more of a plea I feel, a plea to say “don’t give up” and “keep trying”. If you work for it, you will get what you want out of life – put yourself out there, as scary as it may be, good things will come. Let me know in the comments below whether you got the job you wanted after university or college or what experiences you have had of job hunting after education.


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