It was a sunny August morning in Ireland, a rarity in itself, and I awoke feeling an uncomfortable mixture of anxious and giddy. I woke up early that day, which for me was an achievement in itself, and began the arduous task of trying to beautify myself. I took extra care straightening my hair and applying my makeup knowing this would be a day I would look back on in years to come and I wanted to look my best. I had spent months searching the high street and online for the perfect dress and having no success. That was until five days before my graduation when I found a dress for a steal in the coast sale #jackpot. It seemed like everything was falling into place nicely, setting the day up to be one to remember. I arrived at the university early, anxious for the day to begin. I received my black cap and gown and put them on excitedly, having imagined that exact moment for years. This was it, the day had arrived, the day I had been waiting for for four years. I had finally achieved something. Although it wasn’t what I necessarily wanted to achieve but it was still something, right?!
I had always been told that you needed to go to university to get a degree in order to get a good job. Apparently you didn’t stand a chance of getting a job without that expensive piece of paper. One thing you should know about me is I am very much a follower, if someone tells me to do something I will generally do it, excluding any requests to do something monumentally stupid or harmful to myself or others of course! So like a good follower I went to university and spent four years studying a subject that didn’t really interest me, just so that I could get that all important degree. I felt very much like I didn’t have a choice. I am the youngest in my family and all of my siblings went to university so it was just sort of expected that I would too, especially because I was a more diligent student and generally got better grades than my siblings. I think everyone feels a sort of peer pressure to go as well, the majority of my year group in school were seeking further education. This meant that I would be the odd one out if I didn’t go to university and like I said I am a follower and generally dislike being the odd one out when it comes to anything.
My main issue with going to university had been that I didn’t know what type of career that I wanted and therefore didn’t know what subject I should study. There are so many options available and I wasn’t able to imagine myself actually doing any of them. I spent months deliberating over what I should choose and it didn’t help that I had family, friends, teachers and strangers asking me every two minutes and offering up their suggestions for what I should do. I think the system is flawed. No eighteen year old should have to spend their final year in school breaking out in sweat due to the stress of deciding what they are going to do for the rest of their lives. Because lets be real how many people actually know what they want to do at that age? I am now five years older and I still don’t know what I want to do! I ended up going to university to study business as I figured that it would give me the most options when it eventually came to the time to choose a career for myself. You can do a lot with a business degree, there are a whole host of jobs that you can do and I thought keeping myself open to all of those opportunities would be a great idea. I would later find out that I was wrong, as I now face having to decided between all of the different kinda of jobs and it ain’t easy!
The University Experience
Now just because I have stated that I didn’t enjoy my course doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy university! Overall it was a good experience and I can definitely take away a lot of positives from it. I am pretty sure my experience with university wasn’t as positive as other peoples but that was mainly done to my own actions and my own circumstances. As someone who suffers badly with her mental health I unfortunately spent a lot of my time in university isolated from people as I dealt with my own problems. However the times when I was healthier and happier and able to drag myself out of bed I thoroughly enjoyed all that university has to offer. The social side of university is something that cannot be missed out on. I made so many different kinds of friends and got to do so many different kinds of things that I would never have experienced if I had forgone university and stayed in my hometown. University gives you freedom. You learn to become independent, your own person. For many it’s their first time away from home and they must learn to be responsible for their own food, clothes and money. These are important lessons to learn and university is a good place to learn them. I am thinking of writing a whole post on what you can expect from university and the things you can experience so I won’t go into too much detail here, but keep your eye out for future post to come 😉
So overall I am glad I went to university but it still hasn’t had quiet as big an impact on me as it has on others. I am not yet convinced that it was the right choice for me and slightly fear that I have wasted both four years of my life as well as thousands of euros of my parents money! Only time will tell if that is true or not!
Life After Graduation
Something that really annoys me is that no one told me what it would be like after I got the degree. No one told me that having a degree doesn’t actually guarantee you a job. It isn’t true that you walk straight out of college into employment. For some, this may be the case but it doesn’t apply to everyone. It especially doesn’t apply to those people who don’t know what to do after university and therefore don’t know what kind of jobs they should apply for a.k.a ME! I didn’t know what jobs to apply for, which companies I wanted to work for, what part of the country I wanted to live in and when you don’t know those things getting a job is harder. I started applying to lots of different types of jobs; office jobs, sales jobs, you name it I applied for it. The problem with that though was that I was being offered interviews for jobs I had no interest in or jobs that were paying very low wages in a city that has a high cost of living rate. It didn’t help that I was watching friends from university starting their jobs and moving on with their lives. Many of them had been lucky and had secured their dream jobs, others were simply accepting what jobs they could in order to make some sort of start with their lives. I was stuck as I didn’t know what my dream job was and I didn’t want to settle for a job I had no interest in. I was more lost than ever not knowing what I should do and eventually I decided to just stop applying for jobs altogether.
Taking a Break
I ended up taking two months off to decompress and reevaluate what I wanted as a career going forward. This was definitely the smartest move I could have made and I suggest anyone in a similar position to try it! You don’t have to take as big of a break as I did, (honestly my break was excessive but it coincided with Christmas so it worked out 😛 ) but do take a few days at least to step back and think about what type of job you really want! Make a list of the things you count as priorities for any future job you may have. For example, where should the job be based, what working hours do you want, do you want to work independently or in a team setting? If you have been unemployed or job searching for awhile, taking a step back and finding a new perspective is extremely helpful.
During my break I thought long and hard about where I see myself in years to come. I personally see myself going and living abroad for a few years before moving back to Ireland in my late twenties. I have always loved travelling and am desperate to see more of the world, the only problem being that travelling costs money, money I don’t currently have. Therefore, I need to find a job in Ireland for at least a year so that I can save up to move abroad. While I look for a job in Ireland I am going to continue planning my move abroad and have taken steps to help me when I eventually do move. For instance, I recently began an online course that teaches you how to become a social media manager and make that job your sole income. I have also obviously started this blog and I am using it as a way to experiment with social media and expand my knowledge of the internet world! I am doing these things in order to eventually support myself financially with a job that is not location dependent!
Right now I feel like I am in a good place post graduation. I have more clarity than ever when it comes to my dreams and my goals for the future and I finally have a plan in place that will hopefully get me where I want to be. While I may not be where I expected to be six months after graduation I am no longer disappointed with where I am. The future is looking up for me and I hope that this post helps others to make a plan for themselves and their futures and know that it is never too late to decide to go in a different direction! While education is important it doesn’t need to dictate your whole life, there are always more options available to you than you think!