The transition from student life to working life
Updated: Mar 5
In an ideal world, you finish uni and start working. That’s what I always thought growing up. We had it drilled into us that uni equalled a good job. I was also meant to think that uni was your golden ticket to get that job – well *SPOILER ALERT* it doesn’t work like that.
Don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but uni isn’t what it used to be. More people have degrees now, so that doesn’t really put you very ahead anymore. I’ve done a whole post about this, and how work experience and the other extras are what make you stand out now – check that out here.
Now back to the point of this piece – the change from student life to the working world.
I completed uni in 2019, then completed my journalism exams, finishing them in July 2020. Then I managed to get a job as a trainee reporter – just what I wanted.
I had been working towards that job since I was in year 10, which is about 15-years-old, and although I had kept my options open by doing an English degree, I was very much set on journalism.
Thankfully, the job is exactly what I wanted. Variation and fast pace is what made me want to go into journalism in the first place, and the job is exactly that. I am learning my trade in the best place possible - an online/print platform that isn’t so big I feel like I’m forgotton. Our team size means I am doing the same as all the other reporters, and soaking up everything they know as I go.
If I hadn’t liked it, I fear it would have been back to square one. And that thought terrifies me.
I have definitely suffered from imposter syndrome though. For anyone unaware of this, it is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that continue despite success. Basically feeling like you’re not good enough and constantly doubting yourself.
The change from student life to working life has been more gradual for me due to the gap in the middle. But really the same things applies – I’m not practicing anymore, this is working life and so far I'm loving it. I like living independly again and managing my own time.
I spoke to some other people that have moved into working life fairly recently too, and what these changes brought for them.
Gemma went into her perfect job just after uni, but it wasn’t all plain sailing…
“Growing up, I always wanted to work in advertising. When it came to university, I was afraid to specialise too early, so I decided to apply for a BA in French and English at the University of Leicester.”
Through extra work alongside her degree, Gemma gained two diplomas more specific to advertising and marketing – which put her in a strong position for job hunting.
“I applied for the position of Brand and Marketing Strategist at a Leicester-based international company which was advertised exclusively through the University of Leicester as a graduate role. After an initial interview and second where I presented a social media strategy from a given brief, I was offered the job on the spot.”
Gemma said how when she started, everything was as she wanted. She was carrying out a range of tasks and working with household name – sounds perfect.
“I was gaining the exact range of experience that I would have allow me to apply to any job I could dream of in the future. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do, but there was one problem – the management.”
Her office was made up of two senior figures, and then three graduates. She said how a lack of training meant that mistakes were made, and the graduates was blamed – triggering a lot of self-doubt.
“We had all cried multiple times both at home and in the office because of the way we were being treated. After crying at work yet again after being spoken to abhorrently by one of the directors for simply asking a question, I spoke to the new office manager/HR who passed on my feedback to the directors.”
What followed was a meeting with the message of ‘If you don’t like it – leave’. Gemma handed in her notice the next day.
She said how the fact it was her first job made her question if this was ‘normal’, because she had nothing to compare it to.
“I assumed that this was just what the working world was like. Then I discovered that the other employees shared my doubts. We were all graduates; we had all never experienced a full-time job before so I thought that we must all be overreacting a bit. It wasn’t until after I’d left the company and multiple ex-employees messaged me that I felt confident I was right all along.”
Gemma is now studying a master’s degree to make the most of the current Covid climate that makes job hunting much harder than usual.
“Once finished, I will definitely be apprehensive about returning to work. After I quit my job, I received numerous messages from ex-employees who I never even worked with assuring me that it was just a really bad company to work for, and that I did nothing wrong.
“However, the worry that returning to the industry could be just as bad – if not worse – is still there.
“In the next five years I hope to find a position that is not just what I want to do, but one where I am part of a great team of honest, kind-natured, and enthusiastic people – one that boosts my productivity rather than decimates it.”
Bryony gained her job as a sensory scientist straight out of her master’s degree…
“University offered a very sociable and fun experience for me where my weekly schedule comprised of learning, sports and lots of socials, topped off with an enormous amount of holiday in between terms.
“Joining the world of work certainly put things into perspective for me; my weekly tasks changed drastically; I realised how little holiday leave you have in comparison to university. However, for me, the change from student to professional has been a positive one. I am seeing evidence of my own growth as a professional and I am using the skills I learned from university in my day-to-day role.
“Earning a salary allows me flexibility, something which I didn’t have the luxury of during higher education, however, now comes the inevitable challenge of budgeting and responsible spending.”
Bryony completed an integrated master’s, which included a year in industry – the industry she is now working in straight out of her degree.
When she started her placement year, the dreaded imposter syndrome definitely settled in.
“I experienced imposter syndrome during the first few months of my placement at BAT. It was a rather unsettling feeling and every day during this time I was out of my comfort zone for sure.
“It took a good three of four months before I began to feel more comfortable with the role. I still found the job very difficult, however my place within the organisation was feeling more and more established, and I believe that was down to the people I was working with.”