Style | Alumni: Expectation v Reality

This month makes it exactly four years since I graduated University and blimey doesn’t the time go fast?! My little brother will be starting University tomorrow (coincidentally just round the corner from mine; he’ll be attending Roehampton) and it takes me way back to when I was applying for Uni places and tentatively waiting for those all important acceptance letters. Nerve wracking! 

PicMonkey Collage

Jumper – Kingston University
Ultra High Waist Jeans – ASOS Curve
Vans Slip ons – Office

I often think back to my time spent at uni and although I never really appreciated it then; they were probably some of the best times of my life; living in my own house, the independence, Oceana /McClusky’s student nights, maintenance grants – it was a good life for those three years and I’ve informed my brother that all of these are yet to come for him. 

Now for a lot of us, Uni is the time where we try and figure out what we want to do for the rest of our lives and and try to make active steps towards achieving said goal; however this isn’t the case for all of us. Case in point; I studied law as my degree, and to be honest I think  only chose law as it was the only A level studied I thoroughly enjoyed at College. That and tactical coercion by my parents, who if you’re from a “Traditional.African.Family”, will know that they always try and steer you in the direction of something academic, such as law, accounting, medicine, business studies etc. Now, the expectations of uni (and graduating) would typically be the following; go to uni, do your three years studying preferred subject/work experience, graduate with flying colours, get a good job in your chosen field, rent a flat/house, get a car, happy days. 

But alas. Life doesn’t always work out how you’d want it to and the reality sometimes can be very different. In my circumstance despite not wanting to follow a career in law, I completed my three years and graduated accordingly. The next year was one of the worst years’ ever; I found it incredibly hard to find a job and was unemployed for about 11 months, doing random temping and internship jobs here and there. Because all I had ever known was Law throughout college and Uni, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t really know what I enjoyed, I certainly did not want to do a Masters’ because £££, I was in a very low place for a while. 

I then managed to get a temping job at a hospital, where I was to work for the next couple of years (until this May actually) and even though it was a great place to work, because I was getting paid every week it was incredibly hard to save up as I had so many necessary outgoings. Cut forward a couple months and now I have started a permanent job as a medical secretary for a laboratory up in Central London and even though I’m really liking it, I still get disapproving stares from extended family and notes of “hmph! she wasted her law degree/what is she doing with her life?”.

I won’t lie; it’s hard when you feel like the only one in your class/school who’s being held back. You only have to log into Facebook to see your former classmates’ in great jobs, renting their own apartments and building their families while you’re still living at home and living wage to wage. Especially if you’re in your mid twenties like me.

Sometimes it is frustrating when you don’t know what you want to do and don’t have a structured plan. As much as I would like to move out and have the car and the great paying job and all that comes with it – I am thankful that I actually have a job, a place to live and that I have this blog that allows me to meet amazing people! I’ve learned having high expectations and rushing can lead to disappointment and that setting smaller, more attainable goals is key.

So for all those that have recently graduated and are utterly confused about what to do next, try not to panic or fret too much; now is the time when you should try and do as much work experience as possible to garnish up your CV, and save, save, save! You aren’t alone and at the end of the day, everybody is on their own unique journey. 

  • U look great hun and thanks for sharing this. I really feel you and although I am not raised in a traditional african family, quite the opposite (white swedish mum lol), I obviously know about the sometimes pressure to chose a certain career path. I think u've done really well by following ur heart and not settling for pursuing a career in a profession which isnt really ur passion. After college I went through a similar phase where I was unemployed for practically the same amount of time as you.. because I wasnt sure what I wanted to study in uni. I was then actually pushed by some of my family to make a rash decision but I stood up for myself and took the gap year I needed. Your new jobs sounds great and you are right, just having that job is a blessing, there are so many people out there without jobs and u can work your way up, uni isnt the only way.!.. xxx

  • Loved reading this blog post; sat here nodding my head to a lot of what you've said. I come from a Jamaican family, and although there is no pressure as such to land a 'swanky' job in a traditional subject, ie Law, Accounting, there is a bit of ''Haha'' as in you've wasted 3 years, and now doing XYZ which just seems ridiculous to what you did at university! Ok, I am doing something completely different to what I did at uni (studied Criminology and Sociology, now working in HR), but it pays the bills, puts food in my belly, and a roof over my head! However I see the HR job as a stepping stone . .although everything hasn't quite happened for me yet (ie landing the job I want), I still hold the faith that one day I will land a job that I am happy with, and actually pays a reasonably salary.

    With regards to facebook and friends, I deactivated my account a few weeks ago, as I was sick and tired of seeing friends brag about how great their lives are. I am happy for them, but when my life isn't quite on the same path as theirs, it started to have an impact on my mental well-being, and I thought for my own good, delete the account, which I did, and I am so much happier.

    Stay positive and everything will fall into place at the right time 🙂 xx