I really cannot believe (for one tiny second) that I graduated from university 2 years ago today! It was Friday 13th July 2018, which does have an air of unluckiness to it! But – thank goodness – it turned out to be a brilliantly lucky day for me! I had made it through my Physics degree and it was not an easy ride! This week I want to look back and discuss the uncertainty of what to do after you finish uni, how plans almost definitely change and ultimately how I think I have positively changed and grown as a result!
To anyone out there who is in limbo or uncertain about how the future is going to pan out (particularly if your plans have had to change because of the current global situation we are in) I hope reading about my confused, tumultuous story gives you some hope! That sometimes although things might not go to plan, (and sometimes the plan goes completely out the window) – you will hopefully end up somewhere you love in the end!
So rewind to 2 years ago. It is the beginning of 2018 and I am in the final year of my Physics degree. I am revising for my January exams, halfway through my final year, and it is TOUGH! I have a good few exams coming up over the next couple of weeks and I realise that I really have no time to do anything else even slightly useful apart from revise and take these exams. I know at this point other people in their final year are applying for graduate schemes, doing online tests and video and phone interviews. And I just think to myself HOW? My brain is so busy right now and I really, really don’t want to burn myself out. So I decide then and there – nope! I am not applying for anymore grad schemes or really even thinking about graduate jobs until I finish my final year exams!
I was unsure and uncertain as to what I wanted to pursue after uni anyway. So I decided rather than randomly applying to things out of fear, I would focus all my energy into achieving the best I possibly could in my Physics degree! And try not to think too much about the gaping hole in front of me with no plans and no certainty, otherwise known as – my future! I know that this sounds melodramatic but I have one of those minds that likes to plan things, and know what’s going to happen when! But no, sometimes life doesn’t turn out like that and sometimes it’s maybe for the best.
So my final year exams and hand ins roll around and then an overwhelming sense of relief and calm (even if it is only for a couple of weeks before I get my results!). Results day ended up coinciding with my Mum’s birthday, I was so nervous that I was going to ruin Mum’s day but the anticipation was too much and I just had to find out what I’d got. I ended up achieving a 2:1 (upper second class) degree and was over the moon! At some points this seemed like an absolute impossibility (I will talk more about this more in a future blog post).
So I finally had my degree and now reality set in – what on earth was I going to do with it? For a good few months I had been looking into potentially becoming a trainee patent attorney after my mum suggested it to me as a possible option! After extensive research I decided it really appealed to me as it combined my love of technology (finding out about innovative technologies and inventions) with my love for written and verbal communication and an eye for detail.
I set about working to get a job as a Trainee Patent Attorney and it was hard work! Filling out applications, writing cover letters, completing online tests, doing telephone interviews and ultimately doing lots of face to face interviews too. This experience taught me so so much! I did many face to face interviews and as prior to this I had limited interview experience – what it taught me was invaluable. Things like how to stay calm beforehand and how to come across as confident and considered whilst answering interview questions. The interview process was pretty intense; for a few companies I had multiple face to face interviews and technical exams!
It also taught me alot about rejection and managing expectations! Waiting for responses from employers, after applying and after interviewing is so difficult – and can be a little bit soul destroying if you get too invested in it! After some near misses, getting down to the final few candidates on more than one occasion I decided to widen my options and to consider more direct entry graduate jobs on offer.
Quite quickly I landed an interview for a small start up EdTech company, I interviewed and was offered the role! Science communication is something I have been passionate about for years and had lots of experience with (which I had built up throughout university!). But up to this point had not really considered I would be able to start a career in it! I really enjoyed the job but it was very hard work, with very long hours and no real way to progress within the company so I quite quickly began thinking about what I might want to pursue next.
After lots of research and consideration I decided to pursue my passion for technology! I really wanted to work in the technology sector and develop my technical knowledge and skills. I love learning and wanted to work somewhere at the cutting edge of technology but also in a sector that has a real world impact. When I came across the telecoms sector it really stood out to me as a brilliant option! I would be able to learn about and contribute to a sector that connects people every single day – through phone calls, video calls and messaging. And a sector that means people have access to a wealth of information at their fingertips – it really is incredible how much we now rely on the internet in our day to day lives! And how so few of us know how it actually works – this was so intriguing to me and I was so happy when I secured a place on the Technology Graduate Scheme at BT.
Over the past 2 years since I graduated I have developed so much as a person, and a lot of this is down to the twists and turns my career path has taken in that time! Back in 2018 I had no idea I would be where I am today – learning all about networking and how the internet works! But I love it and would not change one second of the journey that got me here.
I think the key bits of advice that I would give to anyone who’s just finished uni are:
- Try and be flexible – if you get your mind (or heart) set on something it can narrow your vision and it can seem like you don’t have many options, but you do! You just have to be open and willing to adapt a little along the way.
- Research, research, research – look into as many career options as you possibly can, try and align them to your passions and your skills. And then get applying!
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