As an English student with six contact hours a week, managing a full-time job after university seems like a pretty intimidating concept. Envied by my friends for my five-day weekend (that’s right, my only contact hours are on Thursday and Friday), there is so much room for procrastination that it can often be hard to structure my time in any sort of fashion. Being in my third year, I often spend my time wondering how on earth I’ll cope when “real life” hits me square in the face this summer.
The problem is, university simply doesn’t prepare us for the world of work. While it can be great to learn all about the representation of science in eighteenth-century philosophical literature, it’s not exactly relevant when you’re trying to fill in a job application.
Yes, uni may introduce you to cooking, cleaning and general ‘adulting’ but studying for a degree is wildly different to any real-world job.
Whilst some students may be prepared by a vocational degree, or want to work in academia, for the majority of us, our degree will have relatively little direct application to our future careers. Don’t get me wrong, I would recommend the university experience to anyone. University is not only a great place to mature and get to know yourself away from home, but it also offers the chance to make valuable friends and potential contacts for our entry into the real world. It just doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be prepared for full-time employment as soon as you graduate.
However, not everything is doom and gloom (I say hopefully). Over the summer, as I began a four week long internship with a daily commute of an hour and a half each way, I feared that my feeble excuse for a daily routine (to get up before midday and have a shower) would leave me unable to cope with a 7am-8pm day. But, to my pleasant surprise, adapting was a lot easier than previously imagined. Yes, I may have been completely shattered, with my reliance on coffee flying sky high, but by the end of the first week my body had adapted to this new schedule. It may not be easy to get used to, but it’s definitely possible if we set our minds to it.
Inevitably, a post-grad degree can seem like an attractive option. Vocational courses, such as qualifications in journalism or publishing, can give you a gentler introduction to the world of work, whilst also providing a structure more like that of a working day. Some masters even include the option of an integrated work placement, providing you with enough experience to make an informed decision about what you want to do in the future. Whilst post-graduate study is obviously expensive, it can be an important investment if you’d like to become better familiarised with a particular industry.
Despite our complaints of “I haven’t slept in a week”, “I HAVE SO MUCH WORK!!!!!” and “literally gonna spend 72 hours in the library lol xoxo”, we’re not oblivious to the realities of the real world. Who wouldn’t take the chance to binge Netflix instead of doing extra reading if they had the chance? Student life may be lacking in structure, but it is generally a time of overwhelming stress and pressure, and I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit.
We may sleep in until midday now, but when the responsibilities hit, I’m sure we’ll find a way… Fingers crossed.