Now I know I talk a lot about uni, but in my defence it has been the most significant life event I’ve had recently. However it is now October, 5ish months since I finished university, and I still do not have a job.
Granted, it’s mainly my own fault. But I have my reasons. University was an experience to say the least, both good, bad, and ugly. I have very mixed feelings which change daily. Do I regret going to uni? Try asking me again tomorrow. I don’t want in anyway to put somebody off going to university, especially as everybody has a unique experience and even if it doesn’t work out so much academically, it does change you in so many ways as a person. But there were things I wished I’d considered more before trawling through the dreaded UCAS application.
Firstly, university was a bit of a last minute decision for me. I was completing my A-Levels, but with school constantly drilling into you about personal statements and references and whatever else, I had to make a decision. As I’ve said before, I’ve never always had one main goal in life, one particular profession I wanted to have, so even deciding to go to university, I didn’t know what to study. With photography being popular in my family for a long time, as well as taking photos from a young age, it seemed like photography was the subject to go with. By this time, there weren’t many open days left before the deadline for applications had to be submitted. So I hastily visited 4 universities, with one from the West Midlands as my first choice. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t partly swayed by the ‘free’ macbook. But the course, and the place, seemed right for me.
I know it sounds so corny and cliche when people keep telling you to make the most of it because it’ll be the best time of your life and whatever, but honestly, it flies by in literally no time then you’re stuck in the same awful position as I am now (hopefully not). I didn’t make the most of my time at university and this saddens me deeply. I didn’t take advantage of (all) the opportunities, I didn’t join sports or societies and I ended up missing a fair amount of lectures, mainly down to my anxiety. So what did I spend £27,000 on? *Wince* Erm.. Well I have a Macbook, that’s nice. I met my boyfriend, that’s nice. So I learned a bit about photography, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But not enough to make me feel confident and ready to take on the world with my abilities as a photographer. Sure, I bossed a Photoshop exam and hold a certificate in Visual Communication Adobe Photoshop CS6 (proudest moment, sorry not sorry). But ask me to apply for a job with specification for a person with profound Photoshop skills, I will shut that tab down immediately. I know how to turn on studio lights and use a reflector but I am by no means confident enough to apply for a studio based role. What I’m trying to say is, sadly my experience at university academically has not left me feeling skilled enough to apply for jobs. Did I miss too many lectures? Maybe. I don’t think so. So when picking the course for you, really think it through. I mean really. Don’t be swayed by the swanky building, fancy iMac’s lining the rooms and nice man giving you an introductory talk. In my second year, the course I was on made it to No.1 place to study photography in the UK. I tell you now, this is a damn lie! I may sound biased, but a lot of people on my course who have now left aren’t even doing anything related to photography. It speaks for itself.
So I’m not confident enough to apply for photography jobs. There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming amount to apply for anyway, and a lot of them are in London. Move you say? I could do yes, but I’m very attached to my family and well, London is expensive! So I’ve been exploring alternate options and with the past experience I have, I’ve applied for a couple of admin roles. Yes a couple. In 5 months. One of the reasons for this, is I was holding out hope for a photography job. One I’d feel confident enough to apply for so that’s boiled down to.. 1. I got through 2 interviews, but didn’t get the job. Whatevz. The thing is, applying for any job, the thought of having to go into a company full of strange faces and expectation fills me with absolute dread. I’m not just nervous, I’m petrified. On the rare occasions I’ve had an interview, I’ve balled my eyes out the night before in fear. I HATE interviews. Sweaty palms, can’t talk properly, heart racing, you know the drill. And all those question’s with the ‘perfect’ answer, the do’s and don’ts of interviews. It is OVERWHELMING. Even the other day when I had a quick call to discuss a potential role I completely messed up. I couldn’t speak, no exaggeration. I just didn’t know what I wanted to say so there was an awkward silence for far too long, leaving me hating myself and reeling with embarrassment every day since actually. So to be honest, it has been much easier for me to run for the hills every time I read something in a job vacancy which I didn’t feel competent of doing. I only feel like I can apply for something if it offers full training and I’ve thought every inch of it through, including googling what the interview process and questions are like with that specific company. Group interviews are just NO. One on one is bad enough.
So overall, I am making this job process unbelievably hard for myself. It is making me miserable. It is making me feel useless, like a failure, and regretting all my decisions up until now. I am struggling. So thirdly, university isn’t everything. Yes we all know it can be hard to find a job when you leave university, but I didn’t think it’d be me. You hear about it, but you don’t believe just how hard it is. And I personally don’t think you’re warned enough about this. DO NOT let it put you off going to university, I can only speak for myself and my industry, granted it won’t be the same with all professions. But consider the importance of work experience just as much as education. Even to be a parcel sorter, from what I’ve seen, you have to have a year’s experience in parcel sorting. I mean COME ON.
I don’t mean to sound patronising, I just would never want anyone to have to feel how I’m feeling now. Yes it’s only a job after all, but until I get one, my life is on hold and I am wasting every day. My confidence is dragging along the floor in pieces and my mood is unbearable. Was going to university the right thing to do? Who knows. Was doing photography the right thing? No idea. It’s even harder to make people understand why I’m so afraid, or even tell them that I’m afraid. My best explanation is take how nervous a ‘normal’ person gets and times it by 10. That’s how I feel. So if anybody has any advice to do with work/job anxiety and how to help it, please let me know.
Apologies for the rant, but sometimes you just have to let it out!