Life after university: two steps forward, one step back?


For many students, their time at university flies past and if you keep busy after finishing university then this doesn’t change. It has been nearly seven months since I did my last university assignment. As expected, I’ve learnt a lot about myself. Hence, I feel as though I’ve achieved so much from the quantifiable to the soft skills. Although this article is about life after university, I ought to do a bit of scene-setting as you’re probably wondering what I studied (just call me a mind-reader).

Back in 2010, I started studying Economics with Psychology at the University of Bradford. I wouldn’t say that completing my course was unexpected as I’d always been academic and very resilient. The big surprise was just how fast it went. Needless to say, I had been warned that it would fly by. In particular, the last week went by so fast with the pressure piling up (along with the sheets of paper!) and the realisation that I didn’t have anything lined up. So whilst my friends were stressing about assignments, I was stressing about application deadlines for an internship and volunteering opportunity. Call me organised but I know the 5 P’s: ‘proper planning prevents poor performance’. I’d planned my dissertation and revision to avoid that last-minute rush.

May 2013 was goodbye undergraduate study, hello life after university.  I did try to make the most of my time at university pushing myself both academically and personally. However, the real learning curve and ‘adventure’ didn’t start till I left. For one thing, I suddenly had lots of time on my hands. This was time I wanted to make the most of. I’d limited myself to two volunteering roles during my final year so as well as continuing with those I wanted to take on other volunteering roles.

In terms of volunteering, in the past six months or so there have been a few new things. My charity shop volunteering ended in July when my time became consumed by other commitments. Having clocked up nearly 200 hours, it felt that it was the right time for me to say goodbye and focus on other things.

In June, I began my training for the summer active project. This was really when my ability to meet tight deadlines came to the fore. The project started in July so I had to collect book packs, contact two schools and undertake two visits at pre-arranged times before term ended. Similarly, with my new event organiser role the event took place at a Bradford school in early September. Therefore, the main promotion method was postcards in school book bags. Cue a rush to finalise postcards and get it printed to be distributed before the summer holidays. Through teamwork, the community event was arranged in three months and over 300 people attended. Not a bad first attempt for me…

Speaking of first attempts, I also did some casual maths tutoring in the summer. My approach was to tailor the tutoring to the student, provide encouragement, explain the WHY part that most people seem to skip over, be patient and help them be independent. It was challenging but very rewarding. I also attended lots of careers workshops along with conducting research into future options. 

The main advantage to staying busy was that it helped in the period before results day. Admittedly, it wasn’t so much anxiety as curiosity about whether or not I had achieved my expected degree classification. Results day was a blur: mixture of emotions, messaging friends and quality family time. There’s nothing quite like positive interaction.

Saving the best till last, what about social media? The experience of doing social media for a reputable company is a huge responsibility; I’m so grateful that I’ve been given this amazing chance. I get an insight into people – their passions, personality and perspective. Likewise, people get to know me…or at least I hope they do!

Inevitably, I’ve had setbacks. There were mistakes made, coping strategies to fully develop and so on. I’d just like to thank everyone who has helped me through this journey. And of course the non-human that of my trusty notebook with pen; lists work for me. I’m not sure what the future holds but I’ll certainly endeavour to make the most of it.

Finally, to end on a light-hearted note, if someone had told me back in May what I’d achieve up until now I’d have been tempted to run a mile!!!

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