Alumni advice: Don’t give up, I know you can make it good

Last year I completed an MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies following my undergraduate degree in History, both at Kent. On August 26 I handed my MA dissertation in and hopped on the train back to Solihull, the next day I took part in an assessment centre at Solihull Council and by 6pm on August 27 I had secured a year’s paid internship there.

“Easy” you might say – I assure you it was far from it.

I began applying for jobs in September in 2013, starting with the standard grad schemes, but after a few phone interviews and a couple of assessment days I still found myself without a job to look forward to at the end of my degree. Part of the problem was my lack of work experience and the limited scope offered by my degrees – if you’re doing history be prepared for the “have you thought about teaching” question.

However, the real problem for me was the fact that I had no idea what I really wanted to do. I was applying for jobs in recruitment, jobs in logistics and anything with a loose connection to history and I think this lack of direction showed in my interviews – I say this because no matter how much preparation I put in or how smart I dressed, one question always seemed to trip me up, “So why do you want to work in xyz?”

After a while I started to get disheartened, I moved back home to complete my dissertation and was getting more and more worried I’d be sat there with no job come September. It was then that I started to search for things that matched my skill set, with history those skills include research, asking questions (analytical thinking) and managing several deadlines at once. I was surprised by the amount of things that came up from this; there was your standard Library work alongside other roles such as Development Officer with a number of universities, but these didn’t jump out for me. Finally I came across Communications. Now, I had heard of comms within organisations but I hadn’t looked into in great detail, but when I did it seemed like the ideal job for me. Keeping up to date with current affairs, dealing with the media and writing my own stories for print – these tasks would surely make the most of the skill set I possessed.

And I here I am 10 months later, I’m almost at the end of my Internship and it couldn’t have gone better. I have eased into working life without any problems, the job is perfect and I am confident of finding a job in a month or two.

But that’s your story Andy – what can I take from it? – I guess the advice I would pass on for anyone approaching the end of their degree and looking for a job would be: there is a job for you out there, don’t get disheartened if you aren’t having a luck as there are thousands of jobs out there that you don’t know exist yet and you can be certain that one of them will have the right fit for you!

I’d also say that you shouldn’t be afraid to take on an internship. Job adverts will always say “requires x amount of experience” and an internship is a great way to get that in an environment that won’t heap pressure on your before you’re ready. When I started I would ask for help with every little thing and thought this was stupid, in a normal job this may well have been, but it helped me develop and as an intern it was expected of me.

So good luck and remember not to let the odd “no” to get in your way, if you really want a job your passion will shine through and this will shine through in any interview – combine the passion with some thorough research and some smart dress and the job will be yours for the taking!

-Andy Moore graduated from Kent in November 2014 with degrees in Medieval and Early Modern Studies and History and is now working as a Graduate Communications Officer for Solihull Council.

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