Life After Graduation | Hannah - Keele University

By Issy Goode - 19:41

It's about time I brought in another fellow Keele University graduate, and who better to pick than someone whom I studied English and American Literature alongside. Hannah always worked so hard and excelled when it came to our assessments and now she's moved in with her boyfriend, Lewis, has been working hard in her grad-scheme and has taken the time to discover the pleasures in life post-graduation....

How does it feel to be a graduate? 
I had the safety of knowing that I had secured a place on a graduate scheme during my final year, but I hadn’t brought myself to think about adult life and what that might mean for me. For a while I was in limbo and adamantly refused to be called anything but a student. I think the shelter of a graduate scheme has been a really good stepping-stone for me and has definitely helped me transition easier into adulthood. 

What’s been the biggest challenge? 
Definitely adjusting to the 9-5 life. I’m famously not a morning person but nowadays I have to get up at 6am to travel into London for work… gone are the days when I had no commitments so could just roll out of bed (or stay in bed) whenever I wanted. 6 hours a week at university did nothing to prepare  me for work. 

How does it feel to be considered an adult?
I feel a lot less pressure than I thought I would but I do sometimes miss the safety net of being a student. When you’re a student mistakes are part and parcel of the experience but as an adult you are expected to know better – but let’s face it we all know adults who do not!

What’s your living situation?
When I finished university I moved back home for the summer before moving in with my boyfriend in our lovely little rented flat. We had to pick somewhere half way in between where we both worked. I have been living here for nearly a year now and I love it! I love making it all homely and adding our own little touches here and there. It is a welcome change from halls, which were mouldy and a health and safety nightmare. I also don’t miss carrying my laundry half way across campus or standing outside the block each time someone set the fire alarm off! 

What's the best thing about graduate life? 
The best thing about graduate life, and the main difference to being a student, is finally earning some money to do the things you’ve always said you wanted to do. I always look back on third year at university where I sat and calculated that, after loan and rent deductions, I had around £20 a week to live on – and that needed to buy my course book - so it’s safe to say that having a stable income is a welcome change. 

And the worst? 
As I’ve said, I definitely have struggled adjusting to 9-5 work life. One minute you have that 6 hour schedule to do whatever you want (and you spend it sleeping & binge watching Netflix) and the next (if you have secured a job) you are working 9-5. If I was to do university all over again, I would make sure I ticked off a list of all the things I want to do and have the time to do – you sure as hell will miss that freedom when you’re sat in an office on the sunniest day of the year. 

What’s been your biggest achievement since you graduated? 
When I started on my graduate scheme, I really didn’t know if it was the right thing for me. I had no experience in finance and banking. My degree seemed like a world apart from it, so those first couple of months were a real struggle. After nearly a year, I’m finally getting there. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’m proud that I have stuck it out and I am starting to feel like I am making a lot of progress. Whether it is where I will be long term is a question I can’t answer yet, but I’m learning a lot about myself and the type of place I want to work.

Do you have any plans or goals for the future? 
My main aim for the next year is to complete my scheme, find a lovely house and a job I love. I have learnt over the past year that you absolutely have to have a job you love (or at least 90% love). 

Is graduate life as you expected?
I guess it’s a lot better than I thought it would be. Besides not having student discount (I’m very bitter about this), lots of free time, and being tired all the time, I find that I’m a lot happier because I’m kept busy and I can do the things I’ve always wanted because I have a bit more cash and independence. I also have a lot less drama than I did at university – everything seems a bit more stable. 

What did people tell you about graduate life - and has any of it proved to be true?
The one thing I heard time and time again before I graduated was ‘Don’t worry, even adults don’t know what they’re doing’ and I didn’t quite believe it. But it is so true! In the last year I have witnessed grown adults not having a clue, making mistakes or going back on something they were adamant about. So I have learnt that it’s okay to not know where you are going/what you are doing. I went from wanting to be a teacher, to wanting to be a publisher and now I’m working in banking. Who knows where I’ll end up! They are all experiences and it doesn’t matter if they’re not right in the end, at least I’ve tried it. 

If you had the opportunity, would you do university all over again?
No, but don’t get me wrong - having the opportunity to go to university was something I will never take for granted and I absolutely loved (almost) every minute of it, and would not trade it for the world. University gave me the opportunity to study a subject I loved, find a circle of amazing friends and it’s also where I met Lewis. It also gave me the confidence to get involved more and lead a breast cancer charity team on campus. However, it did come hand in hand with a lot of stress, sleepless nights, arguments, mouldy rooms and no money. University taught me a lot but it was definitely time to leave.

What’s your social life been like as a graduate in comparison to what it was like at university? 
My idea of a perfect night now is getting home from work, PJs on and watching some TV with Lewis – our current favourites being Peaky Blinders and Stranger Things. I am out the house from 7am-7pm and often I just don’t have the energy to do anything else. I do still make time to catch up with friends when I can and try to plan in things to look forward to. 

What would you say are the biggest differences between the first year of university life and the first year of graduate life?
There is a familiar feeling of being a ‘deer in the headlights’ – but otherwise the two couldn’t be anymore different. I have developed a lot more confidence since that first year of university, so I feel like I’m better prepared to face the “unexpected” and tricky situations that might come my way. 

Do you feel you’ve changed much since you graduated?
I don’t think I have really – perhaps I'm just becoming a bit less naïve (I hope) and a lot more confident.

Have you seen your university friends much since you graduated? 
Not as much as I would like! We've all gone off in different directions with different schedules because of work and various commitments outside of it which make it difficult to plan anything without imposing on each other! Though, we do regularly keep in touch and make sure we know what is going in each other's lives; it’s nice to know that no matter what, they are still at the end of the phone. 

What advice would you give to the next year of graduates?
Don’t consider the next step you make to be the one you are stuck with – learn to be fluid and go wherever you need to to do the thing you love. And if you don’t know what that is yet, don’t panic. Keep going and you’ll find your fit eventually. 

Do you feel that going to university was worthwhile? 
Absolutely, besides what I’ve already mentioned about studying something I loved, I learned so much more about ‘life’ in general. It sounds really cheesy but everything that happened helped to shape who I am now. Prior to university, I didn’t really have the confidence to do anything – applying for and moving to university was a massive step for me and to be honest, I’m still quite shocked I came out the other side of it with a degree. I bet a lot of my family thought I’d be home by the first Christmas. I know that if I hadn’t made that move to uni, I wouldn’t have had any of the experiences I have had since and definitely wouldn’t be where I am now.
*Photos courtesy of Hannah

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