Hands up who walks out of their last day at university and thinks…what on earth do I do now?!
Now look around and see how pretty much everybody has their hand raised.
I definitely didn’t know what was in store. I knew I had to pack up and leave Edinburgh. I had to move back to the north-east. The thing is, the first little while that you’re not at university just kinda feels like a holiday, because you’re not at university.
Then you start to see your bank balance get smaller, and smaller, and you realise that you’re not on holiday and you are in fact an unemployed graduate in an ocean of unemployed graduates. At the time when I graduated, way back in 2016, not only was my ocean filled with desperately unemployed graduates it was also filled with very experienced (and kinda experienced) people who were losing their jobs at an alarming rate as the oil industry in Aberdeen sustained blow after blow after blow. It’s already a lot of pressure to have to prove your better than somebody who is walking about with the same qualifications and experience as you but it’s a whole different kind of pressure to know that you’re applying for the same limited positions as somebody with 10 or 20 years more experience than you.
While I couldn’t wait to move back to the north-east, I knew that the current job situation meant that I would likely have to move again. I was applying for jobs all over Scotland -Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness, the Western Isles, literally anywhere I could find something. I applied for jobs in England, Canada, Switzerland and even China. I needed a job, and since my experience with working life hadn’t been the happiest to date the concept of a job I enjoyed seemed positively mythical. I was applying for well over a hundred jobs a week, sometimes more than 50 jobs a day, and it was exhausting.
The reality is that I had actually started applying for jobs in January, months before actually finishing uni, but now I had to really pick up the pace.
Have you ever been rejected from a job because you’re overqualified? Probably not, because it’s ludicrous. I have though and I can tell you that it is as confusing as it sounds.
My job search probably sounds kinda frantic, and that’s largely because it was – I wasn’t a graduate with a part time student job searching for a ‘grown up job’, I had nothing. I had been fortunate enough to not have to work a part time job while I was studying but because of that my savings were now running pretty low. I was rejected Universal Credit. So not only was I desperate for money, I was applying for all different kinds of jobs – in addition to ‘careers’ based on my qualification I was looking at retail, hospitality, training opportunities, full time, part time, temporary…pretty much everything.
It probably sounds like job hunting had become all-consuming, and that’s because it pretty much had been. I spent some time volunteering just to give me something to do, to get me out of the house and to give me something to keep adding to my CV if this dry spell dragged on for a while. I did manage to squeeze in a weekend away here or there, because it had been planned and paid for already. In between all of this I was back and fore to the doctor’s to try and work out what the never ending pain in my abdomen was (if you haven’t heard this story yet, you can check out my video here).
I was able to pick up an odd days work here and there at some events, but in total I only had two interviews – one for a part time position in a WH Smith in Aberdeen and one for the job I have now. There are so many people applying for jobs nowadays that a lot companies don’t even send you a rejection anymore, you just never hear from them.
I was an unemployed graduate for around 3 months and at the time it felt like an eternity – in the end I picked up a job right here in my hometown, doing something as close to enjoyable as I could ever possibly imagine. The reality, as I can see now, is that compared to so many people I have met through my educational journey I was job hunting for practically no time at all. I know people who have taken literally years to get their foot into the career ladder but the only stories we ever hear about are the people who walk straight out of university into the job of their dreams. The reality is that doesn’t happen for most graduates.
The day after accepting my position in my current job, I was offered an interview for an internship at what you could probably describe as “my dream company” (everyone has one!). I seriously swithered about taking the interview, but in the end decided against it. It would have meant upping sticks and moving to Dundee, although I don’t suppose that would have mattered too much because I have a support network of loved ones there. It was only a 12 month internship, with no job guarantee at the end of it – I could’ve ended up right back where I was now in a year’s time and even though the job I had just accepted was only a 6 month probationary period it was a lot less upheaval if it didn’t work out (I’ve been here 3 years now!). Finally, it was to write for a bridal publication – while it was perhaps the company of my dreams I am probably the least qualified person to create bridal content. Have you ever met anybody more single?!
I think about my decision to politely decline that interview sometimes and I wonder if I made the right choice. I wonder what would have happened if I had accepted the interview. If the two events – being offered the job at home and being invited to interview in Dundee – had been reversed, would I still have accepted the job here or would I have turned it down in hope of bigger things? I don’t know, but I like to think that fate put the two events in this order for a reason.
I know it can seem utterly hopeless trying to get your foot onto that graduate career ladder, but I implore you to keep pushing on and believe in fate – the right thing will come along.