Welcome to the third installment of my ‘graduate’ series. It’s been exactly one year since my graduation and now almost four years since I filled my parents’ car with boxes and moved to London to start university. This is a little of my personal experience and why I think my Journalism degree at Westminster was worth it and what it taught me about job hunting, entering the workplace and starting a digital career.
When I finished my A-levels in 2010, I actually didn’t intend on going to university at all. At the time, I was happy enough to be finished with education and working full time in order to save enough money to go travelling with my then boyfriend. (I wrote this post about the three months I spent travelling the West Coast of Cali). It turned out that I became very unhappy and unfilled working full time in a certain white cupped coffee shop for the eight months I was saving up for the trip. Cracks had also began to form in said relationship and 18 year old me thought that travelling to the other side of the world together would fix things. Suffice to say, by the time we came back we pretty much hated the sight of each other and it was a very sad summer. Luckily I was smart enough to not choose him over my education and future.
I remember sitting at my kitchen table, completely fed up, and my mum telling me to write a pro’s and con’s list for leaving everything and going to university. As I think I summed up in I am a Graduate!, I loved being a student at Westminster and I wouldn’t change a thing, apart from a few too-drunken nights. I can 100% say that deciding to go back to my sixth form and ask my teachers for help with my UCAS application was the best decision I have ever made. I moved to my favourite city, grabbed every opportunity to learn and experience the media field, made so many wonderful new friends and it led me to my hubby too.
So anyway! It has been one year since I graduated and I was very lucky that my transition from graduate to junior professional was quite quick. I think every uni student at some point thinks to themselves ‘is this going to be worth it?’ in the middle of the dissertation abyss and late nights essay writing, but I promise it (usually) is worth it! To refer back to my first part of this trilogy, a year today I will be a graduate, and everyone who might be worried about going into their final year or about to start applying for graduate jobs – everything will be ok, just stay positive, don’t give up and use all the job sites at your disposal to apply for every job that matches your skills. Also, use your Careers Advisor to go over your CV and polish it before you graduate. It’s their job so let them help you.
I was working full time at my local Premier Inn as a receptionist for the last four months of my degree as I didn’t want to move back to Weymouth and I needed a stable job in order to survive until I found a graduate role. I stayed there for another four months after graduating until one day I saw on the work Intranet that there was a junior role available in the Premier Inn Digital Team at Whitbread Head Office. I asked my manager (and her manager too) for help with applying for the role and after a three month trial, I got a permanent contract. I’ve somehow been here for 10 months already and am accepting the fact this is real and I’m not dreaming. I would advise graduates to look at places closer to home when looking for your first job. Look into companies where you have or currently work to see if there are any opportunities to try working in a new department more suited to your degree. It’s much easier to apply internally and you can use your management and colleagues to support your application. Also talk to friends about what they’re doing. There might be opening where your friends are working/interning and they can support your application from the inside. We we’re taught at university that working in the media is all about networking and who you know – they were right.
In terms of my role as a Content Executive, I found that I knew a lot more than I realised from studying Online Media in my second and third years. In our first year of uni we were also asked to make blogs to share our work on, which is a great introduction to creating, publishing and sharing content. I work for a big corporate company maintaining their website, so it helped that I had an idea of working in CMS systems such as WordPress and could also help with copywriting if needed.
For everyone about to graduate, best of luck and congratulations!