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Graduates: Life After University. Dreams vs Realities.

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    Hello graduates (and possibly, 3rd/4th years who have received or failed to receive offers to do their favoured jobs)

    Considering that what I expected would happen after completing my GCSEs and sixth form, and what actually came to fruition, differed substantially . I'd like to know from graduates:

    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?

    2) What you do now and why you do it?

    .....and most importantly.

    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?



    I ask this knowing that the extent to which your expectations meet up with reality may differ depending on who you are. I'd like to see if there are any commonly encountered reality checks and revelations that most freshers aren't privy to, for one reason or another, and will need.

    Thank you, to those who respond.
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    Be ready for a lot of free time and isolation.
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    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?

    I studied Psychology, and I've never really had a career aspiration or goal of any sort. I've thought ' oh, being a clinical/forensic psychologist maybe nice', but in reality, I'm not well suited to it.

    2) What you do now and why you do it?

    Now I'm in the motor trade, and I have been since my 2nd year of uni. I've recently moved from a service role over to an admin support role, which is much more enjoyable. I got into the motor trade by accident - a 6 week summer temping contract turned into a part time role during my final year, then a full time role when I graduated. It's good money and its a job which has served me well over the last 3 years.



    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?


    If you know what you want to do after uni, do your best to get as much work experience or volunteering experience as you can while your at uni. Uni will be the only time where you'll actually have free time to do this. Other people on my course who knew what they wanted to do, got the right experience while at uni and got a 1st, have now got themselves into a entry level job into their chosen career paths. You get as much out of a degree as you put into it, I think.
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    1: I knew I wanted to be involved in doing something that made the world a better place, but I wasn't sure what. I knew I needed a lot of independence in my job someday, so I worked out I needed to specialise and become an expert in something. As a result I was already considering that I might want to do a PhD when I began undergrad, and that affected how I saw things and what I did throughout my degree. During the course of my degree my studies confirmed that I either wanted to become an academic researcher or to do research/consultancy work for an NGO or think tank.
    2: I'm now on a PhD in the Social Sciences.
    3: It helps to think ahead. Ignore people who say that 'first year doesn't count'. For some things like postgraduate studies, people look at your full academic transcript, and to get funding for postgraduate studies you usually need a first.
    Also don't put off investigating job prospects until your final year. So many other students were having kittens in their final year because they had no idea what they wanted to do with their life. Make use of your University careers service, attend careers fairs, look into doing internships in a field you're interested in over your summer holidays (this is another example where it would be good if you didn't have crap grades in your first year) Also get involved in one or two activities or societies that might help your CV. It needn't be dry or boring stuff. Initiating or running your own society or activity is always great for your CV.
    Finally, you have a lot more free time and money on an undergraduate degree than you will have again for a long time (I appreciate this isn't true for everyone, but a lot of people have access to very generous bursaries and loans), be sensible with your money and save some in case you need to do an unpaid internship after your degree to get a foot into your chosen career.

    Finally a tip for motivation: you might never have worked in a horrible job before, but whenever you struggle to motivate yourself with your studies its always good to think "this is my job, if I wasn't doing this I'd have some other horrible full time job each day to make a living... isn't this so much better?" And that usually puts things into perspective.
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    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?

    I wanted to be a RAF pilot but failed at Cranwell so I went to my Plan B which was to work at sea as an engineer.

    2) What you do now and why you do it?

    I work at sea as an engineer on cruise ships. I got a degree in Geography and then got another degree in engineering paid for by my shipping company.

    .....and most importantly.

    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?

    Get applications for appenticeships/jobs/placements in early, like now. So that you are at the top of the pile before everyone who passes this year does the same. You have to be organised and be prepared to do a job that might not necessarily use your degree at first but will in the future. Also, you have zero experience in the workplace so don't go to interviews thinking you are amazing, you are not, you just more qualified than most.

    If you have a 2:1 or above in a useful subject like Maths, Science, Medicine and the Humanities you are more employable and you should exploit this. Aim to get a 2:1 or higher, 2:2 is OK but anything less you should retake third year to be frank.

    Work hard on your dissertation it can be the difference between a 2:1 and a 2:2.

    There are jobs out there, but you have to get organised now to get them.
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    (Original post by LydiaM123)
    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?

    I studied Psychology, and I've never really had a career aspiration or goal of any sort. I've thought ' oh, being a clinical/forensic psychologist maybe nice', but in reality, I'm not well suited to it.

    2) What you do now and why you do it?

    Now I'm in the motor trade, and I have been since my 2nd year of uni. I've recently moved from a service role over to an admin support role, which is much more enjoyable. I got into the motor trade by accident - a 6 week summer temping contract turned into a part time role during my final year, then a full time role when I graduated. It's good money and its a job which has served me well over the last 3 years.



    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?


    If you know what you want to do after uni, do your best to get as much work experience or volunteering experience as you can while your at uni. Uni will be the only time where you'll actually have free time to do this. Other people on my course who knew what they wanted to do, got the right experience while at uni and got a 1st, have now got themselves into a entry level job into their chosen career paths. You get as much out of a degree as you put into it, I think.
    Thanks for the response . Which part of the motor trade do you work in?
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)

    1: I knew I wanted to be involved in doing something that made the world a better place, but I wasn't sure what. I knew I needed a lot of independence in my job someday, so I worked out I needed to specialise and become an expert in something. As a result I was already considering that I might want to do a PhD when I began undergrad, and that affected how I saw things and what I did throughout my degree. During the course of my degree my studies confirmed that I either wanted to become an academic researcher or to do research/consultancy work for an NGO or think tank.
    2: I'm now on a PhD in the Social Sciences.
    3: It helps to think ahead. Ignore people who say that 'first year doesn't count'. For some things like postgraduate studies, people look at your full academic transcript, and to get funding for postgraduate studies you usually need a first.
    Also don't put off investigating job prospects until your final year. So many other students were having kittens in their final year because they had no idea what they wanted to do with their life. Make use of your University careers service, attend careers fairs, look into doing internships in a field you're interested in over your summer holidays (this is another example where it would be good if you didn't have crap grades in your first year) Also get involved in one or two activities or societies that might help your CV. It needn't be dry or boring stuff. Initiating or running your own society or activity is always great for your CV.
    Finally, you have a lot more free time and money on an undergraduate degree than you will have again for a long time (I appreciate this isn't true for everyone, but a lot of people have access to very generous bursaries and loans), be sensible with your money and save some in case you need to do an unpaid internship after your degree to get a foot into your chosen career.

    Finally a tip for motivation: you might never have worked in a horrible job before, but whenever you struggle to motivate yourself with your studies its always good to think "this is my job, if I wasn't doing this I'd have some other horrible full time job each day to make a living... isn't this so much better?" And that usually puts things into perspective.
    Thanks Craghyrax. I particularly agree on the subject of first year performance. I'm going to university to learn as much as possible about my subject, not to just get a degree. I think that distinction is lost on some.
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    (Original post by wanderlust.xx)
    Be ready for a lot of free time and isolation.
    Really? I thought that graduates and third years have less free time.
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    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?

    I've always wanted to be a mechanical design engineer but ideally I would have liked to take a year off ,travel, party and live life before getting into a 9-5 job for life

    2) What you do now and why you do it?

    Got a retail job immediately after uni. Interview upon interview and hard financial and lonesome times I finally landed a graduate job last month. Starting in a week.

    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?

    don't have this thing in your head that you'll just be offered a great job because you have a degree ....it doesn't work like that.

    Also a lot of people ( well on my course engineering ) graduated with the same 2.1 you need something else on your cv that ill make you better and more employable than other applicants.

    And this may seem wrong to say but I wouldn't do a degree if there isn't much career prospects after it unless you don't mind spending whatever thousands on university fees or you really want to experience the university life for that many thousand pounds you will pay
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    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?
    Wanted to work in marketing and live the corporate dream as that's what most of my family did.

    2) What you do now and why you do it?
    Private tuition. Did do the corporate dream, and really hated it. Found tutoring more rewarding and really nice to use my degree for something rather than just a stepping stone. I also work at a nursing home as well.

    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?
    Listen to yourself and do what you feel you want to do. Don't plan a career just to fit in or please others, in the end it will make you so sad. For the moment: try to take part in societies or sports if you can, to help your CV and also get work experience during the summer.
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    (Original post by tweety_2479)
    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?

    I've always wanted to be a mechanical design engineer but ideally I would have liked to take a year off ,travel, party and live life before getting into a 9-5 job for life

    2) What you do now and why you do it?

    Got a retail job immediately after uni. Interview upon interview and hard financial and lonesome times I finally landed a graduate job last month. Starting in a week.

    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?

    don't have this thing in your head that you'll just be offered a great job because you have a degree ....it doesn't work like that.

    Also a lot of people ( well on my course engineering ) graduated with the same 2.1 you need something else on your cv that ill make you better and more employable than other applicants.

    And this may seem wrong to say but I wouldn't do a degree if there isn't much career prospects after it unless you don't mind spending whatever thousands on university fees or you really want to experience the university life for that many thousand pounds you will pay
    Did you want to go into an engineering-focused career or did you want the skills that the degree provides one with?
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    (Original post by clownfish)
    1) What you wanted to do or be after university and why?
    Wanted to work in marketing and live the corporate dream as that's what most of my family did.

    2) What you do now and why you do it?
    Private tuition. Did do the corporate dream, and really hated it. Found tutoring more rewarding and really nice to use my degree for something rather than just a stepping stone. I also work at a nursing home as well.

    3) What advice you have for freshers, that may awaken them (if they hitherto
    have not been) to the realities of life after university? Any myths to dispel?
    Listen to yourself and do what you feel you want to do. Don't plan a career just to fit in or please others, in the end it will make you so sad. For the moment: try to take part in societies or sports if you can, to help your CV and also get work experience during the summer.
    Interesting . Do you have any comments on the work-play balance at university?
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    (Original post by Mambo No. 5)
    Interesting . Do you have any comments on the work-play balance at university?
    For my subject I ended up doing way too much work and too little play. I think that in particular your second year is a great time to make the most of the opportunities and really go for it. Just do get involved in worthwhile activites rather than always going out getting hammered and then wasting your degree with a hangover! I went to Oxford and I wish that I'd have got involved in something like rowing as it would have offered a great set of friends, release from studying and also looked fab on my CV.
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    (Original post by Mambo No. 5)
    Did you want to go into an engineering-focused career or did you want the skills that the degree provides one with?
    Your question doesn't really make sense to me :/

    I wanted to go into engineering........ the degree provided me the skills and knowledge that i would need in an engineering environment.

    If you mean people who go to university and study a subject and end up in another profession........ and your asking......... Was it still worth going to uni to learn the skills they did from their subject to employ in the profession their in now.

    Then I'll say it's not worth it
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    top of the morningst.....
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    (Original post by tweety_2479)
    Your question doesn't really make sense to me :/

    I wanted to go into engineering........ the degree provided me the skills and knowledge that i would need in an engineering environment.

    If you mean people who go to university and study a subject and end up in another profession........ and your asking......... Was it still worth going to uni to learn the skills they did from their subject to employ in the profession their in now.

    Then I'll say it's not worth it
    Your posts come out rather cynical, which makes me want to ask if you tried to appy for mechanical engineering jobs or if you just lost interest towards the end of your year? Did you get a 2:1? It seems like you did but I guess I'm just frantically looking for reasons why a bright engineering graduate seems so cynical about the system.
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    (Original post by fail@maths)
    top of the morningst.....
    May i ask what your degree was in an also at which university? I would like a career in finance but i go to a mid-table non russell group uni
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    (Original post by delasandro)
    May i ask what your degree was in an also at which university? I would like a career in finance but i go to a mid-table non russell group uni
    PM me bro.
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    (Original post by tweety_2479)
    And this may seem wrong to say but I wouldn't do a degree if there isn't much career prospects after it unless you don't mind spending whatever thousands on university fees or you really want to experience the university life for that many thousand pounds you will pay
    I don't think its a matter of 'wrong' or 'right'. Its personal. I really loved my degree, and I can honestly say that it changed my life by altering and changing how I understood the world. There are loads of very useful things I gained from the experience that I couldn't have had without it. Some people might not feel that it was worth it for them; and that's fair enough. Everyone's different.

    However I think its misleading to say 'worth that many thousands of pounds', since in reality its just going to be about £5 - £10 knocked off of your monthly income before it even reaches your account. So its not like you'll notice paying that sum. And if you were so poor that you would be bothered by such a small amount each month then you'd be below the threshold for making repayments anyway!
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    (Original post by Mambo No. 5)
    Thanks for the response . Which part of the motor trade do you work in?
    I've done it all pretty much - started off in marketing, moved to showroom host (glorified receptionist basically), then service, now I'm in fleet admin.

    Fleet admin has so far been the most enjoyable role I've had actually.

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