#LifeAfterUni – a true story

  May 17, 2017

I left uni six years ago full of vim and vigour, sure that the future I dreamt of would be mine within a few months. As a psychology graduate I obviously knew I wanted to work in psychology so that's where I set my sights. As the end of my final year approached I started to apply for jobs, focussing on those related closely to my goal of becoming a clinical psychologist. Well for the first few months I did anyway. Gradually, as the rejections (or complete non-responses) continued to erode my confidence I started expanding my horizons and began applying for jobs with a more tenuous link to my 'dream job'. Eventually I started applying for roles that had literally nothing to do with it.

After a while I got my first 'real' job working in healthcare – not quite what I wanted to do, but I figured it was a good stepping stone to where I wanted to be. I lasted six months. I spent that entire six months (bar the first week where it all still seemed exciting) looking for a new job. And I was so excited when I got one working in a mental health unit – clinical psychology here I come! A year or so and it was virtually guaranteed I'd be accepted on a clinical psychology course.

Or not.

As much as I enjoyed the job, the pay was pretty naff (NHS and all) and it still wasn't leading to the destiny I saw for myself. In fact this destiny started to look even further away. At this point I was a psychology graduate, with lots of volunteer experience with services like the Samaritans, I'd worked with dementia patients and in mental health and I still couldn't get the job I wanted. So I decided to take a different tack, and went after the money instead.

I got a well paid job in research. A different line of enquiry, and one I hated. I stayed for a year and a half purely because I couldn't find anything else to do. But as the job became less enjoyable, I became desperate and began applying for everything under the sun.

I so almost ended up doing another job I would have hated just to get out of the one I already had, but by some miracle got accepted for something else entirely. I got accepted for a job as a content writer; something I'd only ever done as a hobby, and was convinced no one would ever pay me real money to do. Yet here I am, two years in and loving it. Working for a company that looked at my potential, my values and attitude over my experience, and gave me a chance. And that's where I finally worked out what I really love to do.

But it's been a journey, and one that I could have avoided entirely if a service like Happy Work had existed when I graduated. All the traditional job boards I used worked on the basis that I had some clue, any clue, that I knew what I wanted to do, or what I was good at. But I was 22, with no experience and no clue. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist. In retrospect this never would have worked for me. I never thought I'd get a job as a writer because I didn't have any 'experience', yet it turns out this is something I actually am good at – but I had no idea. And when I first graduated I had no idea 'content writer' was even a thing – I knew about doctors, lawyers, psychologists, accountants and the like. But there were literally thousands of jobs out there I could have done, I just didn't know they existed. Who knows what I'd be doing now if I had.

So that's my story - what's yours?  What is it that you think you want to do, because I'll tell you now you are probably wrong. Don't do what I did and waste six years trying to figure it out. At the very least fill in your Happy Work profile and use the report to understand yourself a little more; better yet, let Happy Work match you up with a company and job that suits who you are, not what degree you did or what grade you achieved. Find a job you'll be great at and enjoy now and spend the next six years growing and developing in that role. It's what I'd do if I could do it all again.

Good luck. Eleanor.