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We need to talk about the reality of life after graduation.

As a tossed my cap into the air, I breathed a sigh of relief – ‘I will never, EVER have to look at another history book, ever again.’ Flash forward 6 months and I have applied for a distance Masters in, you guessed it, history. 

I have reflected on the past 6 months of my life in a previous blog post, ‘I had an epiphany’, which you can find here. In this post, I get very deep and share my personal experiences of leaving University, moving out and beginning my ‘adult’ life. In this post, however, I plan to be a lot less philosophical. While we will touch on similar themes to what I did in that post, in this post, I am not sharing an epiphany, but rather asking a question.

I believe I speak for a lot of graduates when I say WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? 

 

When I finished University I was one of the lucky ones in the sense I had a job sorted and knew exactly what I was going to be doing.

‘Well, that was easy…’ My life had all fallen together quite nicely.

Flash forward a month and I was poorer than I had ever been at University, renting in a place where I knew nobody and questioning why I did my degree in the first place. To be quite frank, nobody gave two shits. Two months later I realised how lucky I had been and how much I had taken my degree for granted. Truth be told, I really missed learning and my life was anything but sorted. How naive I was… 

The problem is, we are fed from the age of about 13 that everything builds up to that moment when you throw your cap in the air and get handed your degree. You then go on and change the world. But what happens if at 22 you’re not doing that? What if you’re in a graduate job, struggling to make ends meet and more than a little bit clueless about exactly where you want to go in life? Well, you’re totally normal. Life beyond graduation isn’t always all-go straight away. In fact, it’s a bit of an anti-climax.

However, that’s not what we’re being led to believe. A thought that crosses my mind on a daily basis is that I am running out of time and that all of these big dreams that I had for myself are futile now. I tell myself every day that I have failed.

I am 22. 

This all sounds pretty entitled, doesn’t it?

I have been privileged enough to have had access to degree level education, I leave, walk straight into a job and then 6 months later I’m moaning about it.

What am I actually looking for here?

Put simply, honesty.

For the majority of graduates, leaving education is scary. Many will fall in and out of jobs for years before finding what they want to do with their lives. The fact that more than 43% of us will be searching for a new job within two years is probably not only down to a desire to work for more than financial gain but also down to pressure to be ‘living our best lives’. If we’re not in our ‘dream job’ in our early twenties, the rhetoric that we should have everything sorted is enough to drive us into looking for something else. The idea at 22 that I am ‘trapped’ and that I will never progress is terrifying. Why am I not achieving everything my peers are?

Post-graduation life is tough, and if you are anything like myself and a lot of my friends, leaving University does not result in finding the answer to hundreds of life questions. If anything, it just brings up more questions. I am not for one second trying to make people yet to graduate fear the future. Rather, I want to tell them that it’s okay if things don’t fall into place straight away. There is a big wide world out there and we’re all just starting on our journey in it. A journey that is likely to take hundreds of twists and turns before we reach the end goal – if, in fact, that exists at all.

If more of us speak about the experiences we are having in our early 20’s, then perhaps we can help to get rid of this preconceived idea that you should have everything sorted because, well… chances are most of us don’t. Chances are you’re doing absolutely fine. Maybe instead of asking what the hell is going on, we should try to make the most of this new chapter in our lives to explore, make mistakes and develop.

You don’t have to have everything figured out right now, and it’s about time more people told us that. 

Jamie x 

Flying The Nest | The Realities Of Moving Out.

As you will know if you follow me on any form of social media, I have recently moved into my first little house. When I first announced that I was moving away from home into a property of my own I got a hell of a lot of messages – How did you afford it? How long did you have to save for?

Many people assumed I had bought my own home. Now, whilst that would have been lovely, I am not Rockefeller and so buying a property was never an option. I did think, however, that sharing my experience so far of ‘flying the nest’ might still come in handy so I thought I would share with you a bit about the process and how I am finding it so far. 

Getting Started.

First things first, as soon as I find out I had secured the job, I had some housing decisions to make (well, first things first was to crack open a bottle of wine and celebrate but you get the point). Apart from student accommodation, I had never had to look for a property before and I had always been lucky enough at University to get enough of a grant to not have to worry too much about the price. Now, however, my search was very different. I had to consider what I was going to be able to afford based on my wage, where I was going to live (made all the more challenging by the fact I don’t drive and so commuting options also had to be considered) and what I actually wanted from my new home. With the help of my lovely family, I decided on my budget and a rough location that was near to bus stops and train lines.

I was actually pleasantly surprised at what my budget could get me. Having mentally planned that I was going to be moving to London, Solihull property was far more affordable and certainly gave me more for my money. I narrowed my options down to a few different properties that I had found of various sites (the one I eventually went for I found on sparerooms.com). Some were flats for one and some were house shares. After 3 years at University I was pretty relaxed about what the living situation was going to be – as long as it was clean, affordable and in a good location and I was a happy bunny. Deep down though, I wasn’t sure about living completely alone – having people around me seemed a lot more up my street.

We arranged a few viewings and headed down to Solihull. Even before I got there I had set my heart on a shared house that myself and 5 others now call home. It was newly renovated and decorated to the highest standard I had seen (I went from not caring about decor to the next Kelly Hoppen in the space of about a week!). It was fully furnished and all my bills would be included in the cost. Although the house is stunning and in the ideal location, it was the landlord and lady that really sold the property to me.

They were (and of course, still are) the loveliest people – it was them who showed me round the house, skyped me prior to the viewing and helped me through the whole process. Straight away I felt at ease and safe! A top renting tip I picked up was if you get the chance to meet and chat with the landlord then definitely do it – a lot of the time you will go through an estate agent and probably never meet who you are actually renting from. The chance to build a rapport and ask questions was invaluable and really put my mind at ease.

A colour scheme even Kelly would approve of.

Now for the question everyone has been asking…

 What About Finances? 

Now, I’m anything but loaded. I struggled a little at University but secured a grant that helped me through and my Mum helped me out whenever she could. I was earning very little from my PT work and so the 3 years had pretty much bled my savings dry. I knew I was going to be earning a decent wage but until I got that I was pretty much brassic – not ideal when you have a deposit and a months worth of rent to pay before your first pay cheque. Perhaps naively, until it came to looking for a property this was something I had literally never considered. It seemed to me that once I had a job money was going to be no issue, but the reality is a lot different.

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I bought flowers. Am I an adult now?

I wish I could tell you that I paid for these myself but, the truth is, this was not going to happen – I simply did not have the money and given the fact I went straight from University and into a job, I had no time to replenish the funds that had paid for my degree. Thankfully, my Mum was able to help. It has been tough and I know this has not left us in the most ideal financial situation, but I know that in time I will be able to repay her.

Going straight from University into work was an absolutely stroke of luck and I adore my job but relocating without any funds is not only hard, it’s impossible. I am incredibly grateful that my Mum has been able to help me pay the deposit for this house and although things are okay, let’s just say I am eagerly awaiting my first pay cheque.

The bedroom I chose on viewing day.

The Move. 

After we had worked out how everything was going to work financially and after I had been through a lot of paper work and screening processes that I was (again naively) completely unaware of, it was time for the move.

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My little room on moving day… 

The move itself was fairly stress free. I have been lucky enough to secure myself a house that is totally furnished and so I basically just had to bring myself, clothes and a few personal bits and bobs just to make it more homely. Checking in took about an hour and a half and then that was that! My top tip would be to make sure you have read all of the documentation prior to check in as this saves a load of time and you can address any issues prior to packing your suitcases.

My First Week.

The first week has been weird. I’m loving my new home but it is definitely taking some getting used to. Being away at University and living with people for the past three years has prepared me to some extent, but this is very different. Everyone is so lovely and I am really starting to get the hang of adult life but I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a little difficult from time to time. Of course I am missing home but for the most part my job is keeping me busy enough to not have too long to over think.

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Of course I found a coffee shop in less than 24 hours. 

I am loving living in my little house and going to work and actually ‘adulting’ but it has not been without its challenges. I am very VERY poor at the moment and I am still waiting for my first pay cheque so we are working on a very tight budget. It also does get a little lonely sometimes but I am learning to appreciate time alone as well as time with others (a skill I have learnt is very important in adulthood). The past few months have posed many challenges but I am loving embarking on my new adventure and learning more and more about myself, life and Birmingham. 

Jamie x 

Lessons I’ve Learnt As An Intern.

Hey guys and happy Tuesday!

So today I thought I would do a blog post that has been requested a lot recently. As you will know if you follow me on other forms of social media, I have recently just secured a job as content executive for the fitness and nutrition section of Gymshark Central. This means not only will you be seeing my stuff here but I will also be working my magic over on the Gymshark blog – so make sure you check that out! Anyway, this blog post is not about my new job, (don’t worry, that is on it’s way) rather this is about how I got there and the lessons I learnt along the way.

I have interned a fair bit. As someone who wants to go into the media and journalism industry, internships are an essential part of the journey. They’re hard to get and even harder to manage the feeling of being a small fish in a massive pond and make sure you stand out when you get there. I have definitely taken a lot from each one of my internships. All had their ups and downs and I made a lot of mistakes along the way so I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt and what I wish I would have known before I started. This is going to be a long one so get yourself a cuppa and get comfy – you could be here a while.

I write this having secured a job, but my life as a ‘newbie’ is certainly not over. This brings me on to my first lesson. You are never too good to learn new things and continue to grow your skills. It is likely that your internship is going to be unpaid, or be paid a very small amount that will struggle to buy you a days worth of food in central London (can you tell I am speaking from experience?). It is also likely that you’re not going to walk in on your first day and be given a huge feature piece to write – life is just not that kind. Try new things and never think you are above anything. Offer to make tea and coffee, offer to tidy the cupboard – make yourself useful. Be willing to learn, be willing to rough it, be willing to stay in hostels with 6 strangers because that’s all you can afford. Just be willing. It will be off.

As well as being willing, it is also important to be active and useful. It is likely the company you are working for have interns in all the time. If you don’t show them that you are an active and useful person to have around, chances are you won’t be around for long. It’s brutal, I know, and something that is very difficult when you’re nervous (which it is very normal to be). An important balance to strike is between being inquisitive and being useful. It is easy to get carried away asking questions that you become more trouble than you’re worth. Be inquisitive about the company and people you are working with but remember that they have a job to do. You want to be useful but not annoying.

My top tips for ensuring you demonstrate your uses within the company and make a lasting impression are as follows:

  1. Find Jobs: There will always be something that needs doing but these things are not always obvious. If you’re totally lost, ask if you can get anyone a cup of coffee and do some research. At Women’s Health, there were usually things I could be getting on with, but if not I went through the magazines and started working on research for reoccurring features. I gathered loads of journal articles and drafted articles. Yep, they all got changed but I made an effort and wasn’t just sat twiddling my thumbs.
  2. Talk to people: Chances are you’re going to be asked to do a fair few menial tasks so you might as well make the most of them. If you’re making coffee chat to people in the kitchen. If you’re running errands make sure you chat to people in the lift or on reception. If you use every opportunity to talk to new people and expand your network then no task is menial.
  3. Everyone loves a compliment: Know your audience and compliment them. Everyone likes to be liked and a small compliment can go a long way. I like to make sure I know the people I am going to be working with, what they have done and what they’re working on at the time. ‘Oh, I loved that article you wrote on super foods last month, it was a great read!’ – you’ve shown you know about their work and they feel good about themselves. Win, win.
  4. Know what you want from a conversation: You’ll probably know this if you have ever networked. The chances are your time with an individual is brief so know what you want to get from the conversation and make sure you get it.
  5. Follow up: Another networking tip that is also crucial after you’ve finished your internship – follow up! Send an email to say thank you or pitch some ideas. I would recommend doing this within 2 days but just do what feels best.

Lastly, it is important to know your worth. You know your skills and your ability but they don’t. Work hard and show them what you’ve got but never been made to feel worthless. Yes, make the coffee and clean up, it is part of interning. I learnt early on that most people you work for will be decent and will not give you a job they wouldn’t or they haven’t had to do in the past but you also always deserve to be treated with respect. You’re giving your time for free and you’re working hard. Interning can be super scary and you should be made to feel welcome and valued. If you’re being made to feel rubbish and you don’t feel like you’re getting what you need from the experience, I would suggest you start by addressing this with the person you are working closest to. It doesn’t have to be a rude or aggressive conversation but you might find they didn’t realise they were making you feel that way and it solves the issue. If not, you have a decision to make – this is when you need to know your worth.

Best of luck if you have an internship coming up or are in the process of applying- you’re going to absolutely smash it. If you have any more questions let me know in the comments below but for now, that’s all folks.

Jamie x