A Year in the Life of a Graduate

With over 7,000 students due to graduate from Nottingham this summer, the reality of leaving university behind and embarking on a new adventure is one that excites, daunts and will ultimately consume the soon-to-be alumni of Nottingham University. According to the University’s employability statement, “Nottingham students are amongst the most sought after not only in the UK but in the world” which instils a certain level of optimism in those about to take on the arduous task of seeking out that first step on the ever-elusive career ladder. Some fortunate enough to secure graduate jobs will start over the summer, whilst others continue to spam potential employers with CVs and cover letters. For some, travelling may await; new sights, sounds and situations lie in whatever tropical climes graduands decide to inhabit. Either way, the future may be scary. And it’s difficult to decipher the unemployment figures and numerous travel restrictions to know just what the future may hold. Impact spoke to four people from the Class of 2011 to see where they are one year on…

Life after the Dole Queue: Phil Bowyer
Having been out of university now for 9 months, I can confidently say that real life isn’t as scary as it appeared to be when I was at Nottingham and enjoying university life. I studied the 4-year undergraduate masters in Maths and came out with a 2.1 and, thanks to Impact, MathSoc and my Kilimanjaro climb for ChildReach, my CV looked good as well. Originally from Essex, I always envisioned that my professional career would be in London, so it surprises me to write that I am currently residing in Birmingham.

After graduating, I contributed to the graduate unemployment statistic and every two weeks picked up my dole payment. This lasted about 3 months before I was offered a role for the firm I currently work for (after many failed interviews for other firms, I may add). It was trainee actuary position, which was exactly what I wanted, so I happily accepted even though it wasn’t in London. it didn’t make sense to turn down an almost perfect opportunity.

In a nutshell, post-university life is good, very good and although I am not embarking on a chapter of my life that involves a long trip around Africa, Europe, Australia, and Japan like I had hoped, it appears that this new one is still bloody good, and, if all goes to plan, the travelling chapter will be written soon enough (let’s just not tell my employer that).

The best of luck to all final year students reading this. You will be OK. Non-final year students, enjoy the rest of uni and don’t fear life outside of the bubble.

Shanghai Noon: Stephen Lovejoy
If you had asked me a year ago where in the world I would be in twelve months time, China would not have been a likely answer. But due to an impulsive application for an architectural internship, and a surprising successful result, this is where I now find myself.

After a blissfully uneventful summer, I boarded a plane bound for Shanghai, the thumping economic heart of China; almost 6,000 miles away from home. I was heading very much into the unknown – the only contact I’d had with my host company was a brief email exchange with the head of HR, whose English was a little questionable. One highlight of our correspondence was when she told me that I needed to bring my own “life-wash-gargle” (it turned out she meant “toiletries”).

Having grown up in the sleepy rolling hills of Shropshire (think of the Shire from Lord of the Rings), nothing could quite have prepared me for the vast sprawling metropolis that is one of the largest cities in the world. Life moves fast here. The pavements are awash with bustling crowds, and the streets are packed with rushing traffic, often with Porsches and Buicks sharing the same roads as old trucks and cycle-driven carts of scrap metal. The construction industry works fast here too, with buildings being erected in a matter of months rather than years. As an architectural intern, I have to make sure I keep up, which leads to a fair amount of late nights. But I also have a lot more freedom and responsibility. Being a tall white man, I attract a fair share of attention from the curious locals and the language barrier can often cause difficulties. But with the great energy of the city, and the fantastic expat scene, you never feel too alone.

Jumping Ship: Hannah Coleman
May 23rd was my last uni house party. It was an early birthday for my housemate James and a leaving party for me. My degree in East European Studies had led me to the Balkans and two days later I was on a plane to Sarajevo where I would be spending the next six months. I didn’t have a particularly clear post-uni career plan; I was just happy that I wouldn’t be twiddling my thumbs and joining the dole queue. At least not anytime soon. I spent three months working at a hostel and three months working for an NGO in Sarajevo. The latter placement was unpaid, but gave me some great experience. By Christmas, it was time to go home, and I was ready.

I fell into a job back in Nottingham about two days after I arrived home, through a friend of a friend. It was most definitely going to be a stopgap, two months max. Not where I wanted to be, but better than working in a bar. Now, as I am writing this, it’s mid-April and I’m still there. My attempts to break into the education sector via graduate positions, applying for TA jobs and PGCEs have amounted to nothing.

Like most graduates, what’s holding me back is my lack of experience and the fact that I can’t afford to work for free. I know that by the end of the year, I’ll be searching elsewhere for the ever-elusive experience combined with a pay packet, something the UK no longer offers. But for now, I’ll carry on with the stopgap and save as much as I can before I jump ship.

Life Down Under: Priyal Dadhania
R-E-WIND…Hallward Library is my second home. I go to the library, to a lecture, back to the library, off to Ocean and then I allow Hallward to nurse my hangover the next day while I slump over the comfy seats, book in hand. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate; with deadlines and exams looming, Hallward is everyone’s best friend, especially for those soon to depart the bubble of uni life.

But, the real world isn’t all bad. I’m currently writing this from down under. Living in Sydney and having a degree has meant that I am able to write for City News and City Hub ? free Sydney papers, the equivalent of The Metro in London. So all those coffee-fuelled and Red-Bull-powered days in Hallward were worth it!

I obtained this freelance position after having spent time in Murdoch’s offices over the summer, following graduation – a degree-dependent position. Researching articles became second nature to me and seeing the way The Sunday Times operated solidified my determination to pursue a career in journalism.

But it takes time before you’re well paid in the media world. So while I build my portfolio living and working abroad means 9-5 chugging, yes, charity mugging. Rule Number One: Not being afraid to approach people and be rejected; something I witnessed a lot from the boys at Nottingham. Just witnessing these encounters gave me handy tips, like to remember people’s names, even if it is the millionth person you’ve spoken to.

In addition to that, club promo work provides easy money, good music, and not so good teens, which all in all means a great night. While there is no Bodega or Ocean at my fingertips, working in Kings Cross, Sydney’s renowned party place, means my Friday nights are always messy after my shift is over. But Nottingham taught me to handle my drinks well – triples for singles anyone?

So, as you leave think of all that Nottingham has given you; not only a great degree from a reputable institution but also a superb set of personal skills.

Sam Owen

FeaturesLead articlesThis Issue
One Comment
  • Is there life after graduation? | Ones to Watch
    24 June 2012 at 23:18
    Leave a Reply

    […] story here. Share this:FacebookTwitterShareRedditDiggStumbleUponPrintEmail Tagged as: Graduate careers, […]

  • Leave a Reply