Graduation: One Year On

by - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I've never been one for timehop (prefer to look forwards and all that), but I couldn't help but notice that last Tuesday, a year had passed since I graduated. 12 whole months. Where the frick did that go?!

For those who don't know, I made the move from south to north to study Music Journalism at The University Of Huddersfield in 2011, graduating with First Class Honours. Those three years of my life were some of the best for many reasons - I developed huge levels of independence, learnt more about something I love, edited an amazing student publication, went to so many gigs and social opportunities and of course, met my lovely boyfriend (vom). I wouldn't have changed a single thing about my university experience, and for a long time I was completely convinced that I was trucking along down the route of media academia/ moving to London and getting that journalism dream going.

Even though those three years were jam-packed of excitement and new experiences, my year post-graduation has been almost as eventful. I was on jobseekers for three months, worked as a Content Writer in a digital marketing agency for three months and then eventually settled in my current position as Events and Marketing manager for The Vintage Kilo Sale, where I've been for the past six months. Not one of these things were something I envisaged when I first came to university, but they've all taught me important lessons - the importance of humility, the value of being able to take criticism and how essential it is to believe in oneself, even when being asked to lead in unfamiliar situations. At face value, my current job has very little to do with music journalism, but I know that there is no way I would have had the confidence to undertake this role without having been to uni. It's such a cliche but it really is funny where life leads you. I couldn't be happier with my current position and love the flexibility it gives me - I spend my days using my degree to improve my marketing and social media skills, and in the evenings I get to use it to improve my content on this here blog, freelance for other publications and generally be more critical and savvy about the media world around me. And the real kicker? None of this would have happened if I hadn't have been brave enough to move up here in the first place, and then, three years later, brave enough to admit that the London dream wasn't for me.

Aside from work, my personal life has also improved massively since University. My relationship is stronger than ever now that our time together is more limited, and ultimately more precious. With separate jobs and commitments, I'm genuinely excited for Kev to come home at the end of every day and catch up. We've moved to Leeds into our first home that's just for the two of us, a huge change after years of sharing with others, but one that's so rewarding when we can deck out our home exactly as we like. Not to mention how much more exciting it is to live in a big city that's full of culture and things to do. Although I don't practice music journalism quite as much as I did before, I haven't given up on it as a potential money-making hobby or part-time career, and I love the fact that blogging is now a legitimate and professionally-recognised outlet for writing. That said, my interests have broadened a lot since University - I now care about feminism, fashion and millennial lifestyle issues just as much as I do music, and I think I'm a much better writer for it.

I still haven't ruled out going back to university to study for my masters, PhD and eventually become a lecturer, but now this is a 'one day in the future' plan rather than something I feel I have to do right now. I'm more content than I ever was at University and feel less like I'm racing through life in an attempt to chase the 'proper' career option. I feel under less pressure to party for the sake of it and can instead pick and choose the people I want to spend quality time with. As I get older, I value the support of my parents and family more than ever, and look forward to settling into my own routine, building my own savings and watching my relationship grow. It's the most cringe-worthy line going, but I feel like an adult in a way I don't think I would if I had never left Stevenage. A lot may have happened in the past four years, but I have a feeling that the next five are going to be even more eventful...

And so, here are the three biggest pieces of advice I'd give to anybody who's going to university in September:

Say Yes
Say yes to everything, even if it makes you a little nervous. This if course has it's limits (drugs, alcohol, skiving lectures and ill-advised sexual encounters), but when it comes to work experience opportunities, chances to meet new people and ways to enhance your CV, give it a go. All my best experiences at Uni came from saying yes to things that scared me a little - interviewing bands, going to parties, agreeing to go on a date with the boy I thought was just a friend...

Hang on to some student loan
Practical and boring yes, but nothing can describe the anchorless feeling you'll have when you graduate and realise you have no job and no money. A few less Topshop visits over your three years can mean the difference having enough to pay your rent while you sort your post-grad life out, and having to move home to your parents and experience the frustrations of being a child' once more . Not that there is anything wrong with that and it works well for lots of people, but I'm so glad that my savings meant I could afford to stay up north after graduation while I found my feet on my own.

Always, always be yourself
Cliche alert once more, but I genuinely believe that if you're always true to yourself, you can never be disappointed with how things turn out. I've lost contact with a lot of people since University, but looking back, they weren't always people who made me feel valued or good about myself. Not such a loss right? The ones I have hung onto are people I can see myself being friends with for many years to come - even if we don't get to talk or see each other much, I know we're still on the same page.

Being yourself also goes for your career - just because you have a degree in one thing doesn't mean you can't change your mind after graduation and pursue something else. Take advice from those close to you, but always listen to yourself - you're the one who has to go to work every day after all!

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