Alumni advice: Mama told me not to waste my life

…She said spread your wings my little butterfly

You’re nearing the end of your degree, you’ve got exams flying at you faster than an F1 car, and you’re leaving tyre marks of stress, essay drafts and empty food wrappers everywhere you go. Then you realise, what next? The final exams are approaching and someone casually mentions that they got a job over Easter. Someone else pipes up that they’ve been looking for months. You have a horrible thought: After your exam, you’re done, finished, and you’re the last one to find a job. NEWS FLASH: You’re not! Chances are most other people are thinking the same as you, but no one’s admitting it.

There are two ways to tackle this one.

  1. The Scatter Gun
    You frantically sign up for every job board, recruitment agency and newsletter you can find. You polish off your CV that’s been gathering dust since college and hastily scrawl out a cover letter.
  2. The Waiting Game
    You patiently scroll through job postings, looking for your dream job. You’ve got a list of companies you’re going to work for, and you’re coming at them with everything you’ve got. You find them on LinkedIn, and phone them every hour of the day until a vacancy comes up and you get an interview.

I went for the first approach and a good friend went for the latter. We both ended up in jobs that we enjoy and have been in for a few years.

A bit more detail:

I reached the final term of 3rd year, and despite what my Dad had been telling me to do for months, I still didn’t have a clue what I wanted. He wanted me to take the second approach, I wound up taking the first. I drew in his help, and the help of the careers service, for my CV and cover letter. I then went through each newsletter and posting that hit my inbox. I applied for something near 40 jobs, got 3 interviews and was successful in 2 of them. I knew the moment I walked into the first interview for my current job it was the one for me. The other interview didn’t quite give me the same vibe. I’d taken a degree in subjects I enjoyed (English Language and History), in the hope that it would give me the skills for a job that I’d enjoy. Realistically I had little idea of what I wanted to do but I know I enjoy what I’m doing.

My friend reached the end of her time at University. She knew she wanted to work for a publishing company. She knew which one, and she waited patiently. It wasn’t easy, she took temporary roles in admin at other companies, and at times felt she wasn’t going anywhere. But she never lost sight of her goal. I’m fairly sure she was on their websites checking for jobs on a daily basis. She’s now at the company she wanted to be at, she’s moved to the city she wanted to be in, and she’s made it.

Both approaches have worked for us. We’re both in roles that we enjoy. But the key point is to make sure you’re happy. A bit like when you’re picking a University, when you walk into the interview room, you’ll just know if it’s the right one for you. Don’t forget, there are plenty of jobs out there and the one for you is out there too.

Having now helped out with some recruitment at work, I know that the other roles I applied for, and either heard nothing from, or got rejected from, just weren’t right for me. Of course I’ve second guessed myself at times and felt jealous of the girl who chased down her dream role, but I’m happy in my role. I’m learning a lot, enjoy coming into work in the morning and am excited about the future.


– Emily Morrey-McGrath graduated from Kent in 2012 with a degree in English Language and History and is now a Marketing Assistant for Paper Round.


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