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MyDaily Discusses: Leaving University Expectations Vs Reality

11/07/2013 20:56 | Updated 22 May 2015

Graduating from university is a bit of a big deal. It's officially the most epic end to an era you'll probably EVER experience. Saying goodbye to the people you've spent every waking hour of every single day with for the past three years, deciding whether or not to throw away your lecture notes (you won't need them IRL) and packing up your uni digs is hard.

While Team MyDaily thought leaving education for good would actually mean leaving it for good, real life would be one big party and job offers would come flying in the reality was far from it...

graduation reality

Katie Jones, 26, MyDaily's Deputy Editor thought her transition from university to grown-up, working life would go smoothly but sometimes things don't go to plan...

Leaving university is hard. Whether you've got a job lined up or not, the change from student life to the real world is probably the biggest wake-up you'll ever experience. After you've cried, packed your bags, cried again, said goodbye to your housemates and cried even more, there's that strange feeling of not really knowing what's round the corner that hits you as soon as you walk out the door.

That feeling really hit me this time five years ago as I drove down the M4 away from London - where my university was and where I wanted to be - back to my parents' house in Gloucestershire. I didn't have a job, I didn't know what I wanted to do and after three years of "hard work", no one cared about my 2:1 in English Literature.

I suddenly found myself working in the shop I had always worked in during the holidays and hopelessly applying for every single graduate job going in between. Luckily, my best friend was in the same position and suddenly our post-university slump had turned into a post university gap year. And things got better.

I went travelling, I continued with the job applications and a few months later, I was finally living and working in London. Sure - it took me a while to get there but do I regret my gap year? Not one bit. When else can you take a year off and travel the world?

Daisy Sitch, 25, MyDaily's Style Writer thought she'd find herself inundated with job offers but it didn't happen exactly like that...

Naturally, the transition from graduate to fully-fledged adult with a degree in English Literature embarking on to a professional career would be smooth. Real smooth. I'd be snapped up by a publishing house (Penguin Books or Random House) and have a weekly column in The Telegraph before I knew it. I'd also be a regular on Radio 4's Women's Hour and host dinner parties with Germane Greer, my university tutor, and later, Caitlin Moran.

The reality? A long, drawn-out break up with the only long term boyfriend I've ever had. An entire summer traipsing around looking for an affordable property - pest/damp control included - with two course mates which turned out to be a pretty dire experience before and after (no offence).

Then came the big, bad recession (impeccable timing). Yep, that sure made things trickier. Here started the labouring over my CV, meticulously tailoring it to each and every application and interview. Oh the interviews - your guess is as good as mine - but think high. Having to muster up the confidence and enthusiasm months in, only to be beaten to the crack by someone twice my age with ten times more experience. Tough.

Am I bitter about the long, hard road to where I am now? Nuh uh, working in roles not even remotely in fields I wanted to to be in order to pay rent, bills and remain sane only made me more determined. I'm proud of roughing it, because now I'm more-than driven to succeed in my career wherever it may take me.

graduation

MyDaily's Celebrity Writer Ellen Stewart, 23, thought she was done with education, all her pals would stay in town and life would be one big party but in reality...

Everyone packed up and left as soon as our degree results were in. We all said we'd stay in our university town after throwing our mortarboards into the air. Life was going to be a massive barrel of no-deadline laughs. We'd fall into jobs and get by somehow. But it wasn't to be.

One by one they slipped away back home to mum and dad's house or scraped together a deposit to move to London and get a city job. Before I knew it, it was just me, sleeping on a friend-of-friend's sofa still working my supermarket job. "What the hell?" I often thought to myself. "Where's the fun gone?"

In all honesty I was just drifting and it wasn't until my mum forced me to go to a careers fair that I realised I needed a new plan. University was over. OVER. And the prospect of being an actual grown up in the real life world smacked me in the face with no warning - ouch!

I enrolled on a masters course, signed up to a journalism training scheme and set up house with a bunch of random people I didn't meet until moving day. I was beyond broke - I couldn't afford to get my hair cut (so did it myself) - living in a crap hole, but I was happy. Sure, I didn't carry on the pardy after uni but if I had there's no way I'd be where I am now. *Pauses for a moment of reflection*.

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