RE: You have not been shortlisted this time.

As the end of university looms ever closer, I’m made ever aware of  ‘the real world.’

‘What do you want to do after university?’
I feel mocked, intimidated and exhausted by this question. Don’t all those ‘adults’ know that such a question is incorrect? I know exactly what I’d like to do, of course I do. I didn’t stop dreaming in the past three years. University widens your knowledge about the vast and even ridiculous jobs you can get into. If you can reach them. It makes you want more, it makes you want different things, at least for me it did anyway.There are sectors that I’d love to work in, but as my job rejections tell me, I just don’t have enough experience. What I’d like to do and what I can actually do are not compatible at the minute. They don’t feel as if they will be compatible for a very long time.

‘What are you going to do after university?’
There’s no answer. I’m sorry. I don’t know, and unless the ‘adults’ who have their shit together, have their shit together so much so that they can tell the future, they don’t either. I can give you a plan up until September. I’m going to increase my hours at the coffee shop so I have a bit more money, but not so many hours that I don’t have a Summer. For the first time in what feels like infinity, I’m going to rekindle my love for reading, I’m going to read so, so much. I’ll probably actually apologize to my kindle. I’m going to get more tattoos. I’m going to three festivals, I intend to go back to Newquay. I’ll work for free until September, in the vain hope I’ll get some more experience that will get me a job that I’d quite like to do.

mick-stevens-hey-how-about-a-little-something-for-the-intern-new-yorker-cartoon
‘Why don’t you get some more experience? / You do not have enough experience.’
This is the vicious cycle. It’s not feasible, not any more. When we live in a society that is so clearly conscious of its poor state of economy, I’m not sure why so many people assume that people can just work for free, even in the name of experience. Looking back over university, I probably should have done more. I could have done more. But that’s nearly over now and I don’t regret a thing. Back to living with my parents. No rent, no room. I need to be earning. Besides, how long are people willing to freely intern for?

‘What do you mean, you don’t know what you want to be/do?’
Now, this is the wrong answer for any graduate scheme, job interview, or even for family members. I’ve never been driven towards a particular career. I just haven’t. Maybe it’s me as a person, maybe it’s because of the background I’m from. I’ve been taught it’s important to have a roof over your head, pay your bills and to make sure you’re happy – even if it’s just once a week, make sure you are. That’s what my parents taught me. That’s what I’ll pass on to any potential children.

Growing up, I wanted to be a backing dancer for Steps mainly. Then a teacher, then a psychologist because I really wish that I could make people better, then a teacher again, then a journalist, then an archivist, then a… you get the picture. I’ve never known what I wanted to be. Ever. I don’t think I ever will. I have things I want to achieve, of course, but I can’t put that in a title for you. I want to be in a full time, non retail job. My main goal this year is to be out of the coffee shop before Christmas. But as for the big career it’s not like any individual can simply say to an employer; I want work. I want to exert my right to work. I want to work my bum off. Please just let me work for you.

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‘What was the point in you even going to university?’
I’m very likely to graduate with a 2:2, so really, I can’t tell you. This is a question that my mom increasingly asks me. My university attendance doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. I went to a secondary school where it was really, incredibly easy to overachieve. Big fish, small pond. And there were a few other big fish too so the competition began. I was always driven by my grades, that’s how I was known at school. I had a lot of negative names surround me at school, but I was never shy about people thinking I was clever. Even if they did phrase it as ‘geek,’ ‘teacher’s pet,’ etc etc. University was simply where they told you to go, they told you to work towards it. University was, and has been, the glorious escape from ‘B44 Birds,’ being stuck on the dole, or actually ending up on Jeremy Kyle (as two girls from my school did.) I hate Kingstanding. University got me away from that, at least. They tell you at school that you can be anything you want to be and that university will help you achieve it. It’s not necessarily true. Not for everyone. Probably not for a lot of people. Now I don’t know what I’m working towards, university didn’t give me any answers. Nobody tells you where to go next. This is the end of my direction, at least for now anyway.

And as scary as it is, isn’t it just wonderfully liberating?

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2 thoughts on “RE: You have not been shortlisted this time.

  1. I get the importance of university in the sense that further education is never a bad thing. What I don’t get is how school never really prepares you for the real world. For instance, in school if you fail, you just get to take the course again. If you fail at your job, you’re fired. There is no second chance there.

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