My next graduate interviewee is one my best friends from Keele University, whose name you have read many times, and who's face has made numerous appearances on this here blog (if you gaze to the right of this page, she's even in the middle of that very photo!). Sara studied English and Psychology and graduated last year at the same time as me. Here's her views on graduate life:
How does it feel to be a graduate?
It still feels a bit strange. At first it felt strange but it was still so fresh and recent but now, one year on, it feels like University was a life time ago! In some aspects I feel like I have all this knowledge but then in another aspect, it doesn’t even feel like I graduated!
What’s been the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been figuring out what I want to do as a career. For me personally, I thought I had a very good idea of what I wanted to do but then I returned back to my old workplace and was in a department that made me realise I could go into Psychology as a career. I think that my dual honors degree has a major advantage in that I can do so much with it but on the flip side of that there are just so many decisions I have to make because of it.
What’s your living situation?
I’ve moved back home but I’m quite lucky in that it’s very relaxed and I’m treated like an adult!
What, for you, have been the best and worst things about graduate life?
I like being able to actually have my own money that isn’t from a student loan or any other support. I like that aspect of independence and it’s nice to be able to save for things. I think the worst is just purely how busy life is and how busy everyone else is now. It’s hard to meet up with some friends as they’ve moved far away or to other countries.
What’s been your biggest achievement since you graduated?
I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest achievement ever but I feel that actually securing a job in the first place is an achievement as a graduate! I feel my biggest achievement at University was completing my dissertation. I undertook a huge research project on depression which took over my third year massively but it was a great achievement (£22 later after I’d printed it all!)
Do you have any plans/goals for the coming months and years?
I want to be in a stable graduate job in a few months and I want that job to lead somewhere, I want a career where I can keep learning and I don’t want to be bored in that career.
Is graduate life as you expected?
It is in the sense that you’re now an adult, you’ve been through Uni and you’ve moved on from that chapter of your life and now you’re living an independent life. For me it’s a weird one as all my friends have also moved back home so it feels like it did before we all set off to Uni.
What did people tell you about graduate life - and has any of it proved to be true?
I don’t think that anybody actually told me about graduate life specifically but focused more on how it would feel to finish exams and studying and how relieved you would feel. Believe me, that part is correct, the amount of relief I felt when I did my last exam was huge. But there wasn’t a ‘well this is what it’ll be like for you next year’ conversation.
If you had the opportunity, would you do university all over again?
If it meant that I could do it again with the same people, then yes. But I feel like that part of my life is in the past now so I wouldn’t want to revisit another Undergrad degree! I do genuinely miss learning as I loved studying Psychology. Obviously I would do University again for the opportunity to become qualified in some aspect of a career, for example, a PGCE.
What’s your social life been like as a graduate in comparison to what it was like at university?
There has been an obvious decline in clubbing but I do think that’s my own decision as well. I can’t hack hangovers and I don’t like spending my whole weekend (the only time I get off) feeling like rubbish. I do see my Uni friends every month or so and we spend the weekend together which is a great way to catch up. But I’m very lucky to still have a lot of good friends from Secondary School and I see them every week or so. I also go out quite a bit with my work friends to bars which is a good way to de stress from work.
What would you say are the biggest differences between the first year of university life and the first year of graduate life?
A major difference is in first year I’d be going out 3 or even 4 times a week compared to the once every few months I go out now as a graduate. I still go out but not to clubs, I tend to go to a lot of bars with my friends now. I’d say my general lifestyle is a lot healthier now as a graduate than in first year where my diet consisted of takeaways and alcohol.
Do you feel you’ve changed much since you graduated?
I feel like I’m more independent and confident in making decisions. I also feel that I’m more confi-dent in speaking up so for example, if something isn’t going well at work or if I want to view my opinion on an aspect of my work then I will. I don’t feel scared in doing that which I feel is a pro-gression of the ‘me’ a few years ago - I wasn’t like that at all.
Have you seen your university friends much since you graduated?
I’ve seen my 3 closest friends from University and we meet every month or so - we live all over the country so we have to plan ahead where we’ll meet! I haven’t managed to see anyone else though, mainly due to distance.
How does it feel to be considered an adult?
It does feel weird as I still don’t consider myself an adult, mainly due to the fact I work with a lot of graduates or apprentices in the same situation as me. It is good though, I do feel respected and feel like my views are respected more.
Do you feel that going to university was worthwhile?
I do feel like it was worthwhile. There is a whole debate on whether going to university is worth it, especially with the cost students now face. But I feel like that shouldn’t put you off from going to study something you have an interest in and gaining the experience. The experience of being in seminars, giving presentations and the general student lifestyle gives you so much independence and prepares you for the adult world.
What advice would you give to those soon to be graduates?
Prepare. If you know what you want to do, the sort of the career you want to go into, then start looking at Grad Schemes as there’s so many of them about! It’s definitely worth applying for them and they’re only about for a specific window of time, so if you wait until October - they won’t be there anymore!