My three years at university were the most exciting, most interesting and most fulfilling so far to me. I know other times will come and overtake them, but for the time being, they remain my fondest memories. Which is why, when I left, I found it immensely difficult to adapt.
Two days after I left Winchester University, I started my first JOB JOB. I had jobs before, but nothing serious. I was working for a digital marketing agency, we were the outsourced company others turned to manage their marketing for them. From their social media to their website, it was ours to create. I worked in a very small team of people who were quite a bit older than me and enjoyed making comments about the age difference, which made me feel inadequate. It turned out a lot of what I was doing involved copy and pasting and following set guides. I thought this would be a really exciting and creative role. But the reality? I was not ready to work there, I went into that role far too quickly after leaving university, I was almost in mourning for the life I’d left behind. Getting thrown into the real world was oddly shocking and left me feeling very much not myself.
It didn’t help that we had a family move during this time too and left my hometown for a much smaller, much quieter town in an all new county. Queue me quitting the job I was now driving over an hour to get to and hating. For the first time since I was 14, I was unemployed. It felt weird. It felt good in ways, but stressful in others, I had a car to finance and a life to try and live with the aid of money. I was very, very lucky at this point to find a job at the only saving grace for the new area we lived in, a Waterstones (UK bookshop). I stayed in this job for seven months and I really enjoyed it. But I wasn’t earning much and I wasn’t able to save. I was going round in circles and never actually moving forward, so I had to leave.
I always look back on this time as being very unstable, I went though some really awful things in my life, a lot of loss. But really this job probably kept me going. I made friends here, I worked with books, I served (mostly) lovely people. It offered me the break I needed to adjust and to be ready to move on. Because I think that’s what it feels like to some people, leaving university, like a loss. I still think I mourn it now at times, over two years later.
From my lovely job as a bookseller I managed to walk into my current role. I am a Digital Marketing Coordinator for a charity that saves lives. I remember coming home from Waterstones one day and Donald Trump had become President, he was giving his speech on TV. And I remember thinking that whatever I do next in my life, I want it to be something good, to offer something to people, to find some way to counteract the bad that people like that man are putting into this world. The charity I work for now is my way of doing that I couldn’t be more grateful for my opportunity.
I work with people of varied backgrounds, ages, skills. I am no longer singled out for being the youngest, I actually have very, very good friends now because of this job. I’m using my skills, I’m using my degree, I write, I create, I design, I film. I really enjoy it and I am very glad that I waited for a role like this. I could have taken other jobs when I was thinking about leaving Waterstones, but I wanted to find something I cared about.
It is very easy to leave university and think you should just grab whatever offers the most money, but that won’t equal your happiness. I would highly promote taking time for yourself and really thinking about where you want your life to go. It’s okay if it’s a different direction to where you thought it would head in when you chose your degree, times change and so do you. But be happy and try to smile, I know how hard it can be.
How did you find leaving university? Let me know in the comments.