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20 Jun 2012

RTW - Graduation or Adult Orientation?

(I'm probably quite early for posting this but I need to get a lot of writing done after work tonight.)

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
How did you spend/how will you spend the summer after graduation?

I graduated from university last summer in July.  Probably the biggest turning point of my life because with that graduation came adulthood.  There wasn't any more classes to attend.  There weren't any colleges to apply for.  This was it.  Jobs, bills, and responsibilities. 

The Englishhood.
I'd moved out of my family's home in 2009.  I was in rented accommodation but it didn't feel like I was really in my own place.  I still went back in the holidays and it was only temporary.  But this time there was a flat.  A permanent home that I'd painted, ordered new furniture for and was taking care off now.  It was going to be me, my boyfriend, and our cat.  Our own home together.


Some people spend the summer celebrating or getting everything ready for their Masters degree.  Some travelled.  A lot of my friends were lucky because they were off home to live with their parents or had more studying to do.  So they could afford to celebrate and go on holiday or not worry about finding a graduate job. 

That summer I just had worries and an insight into real life. 

Jobs are difficult to get right now in the UK.  There were no graduate jobs when I left and if there were they wanted more specific degrees.  English was actually not a desired degree.  It was too flexible.  I couldn't get jobs in bars and shops because I was over qualified and they knew it wasn't where I wanted to be.  The degree put them off.  Peter (the bf) and I were on job seekers allowance.  Sixty quid a week for the both of us to live off and people who had no idea how to help us because they had no experience dealing with graduates.  Something they actually confessed. 

I really grew up that summer.  Learnt that university wouldn't guarantee that I could walk into any job.  And I find that teachers and adults poorly prepare us for that.  Quite a lot of my friends from university still don't have a job and it's been almost a year since we graduated.  Some have only just got the job they wanted.  I've learnt to deal with other responsibilities.  Bills, sorting out direct debits, getting appointments made, remembering those appointments etc.  I've experienced living with little cash.  I run the home, keeping it tidy and clean.  I invite family over for tea and cook for them now.

I see some of my friends now who either live with their families and did so during university, whose parents have bought them a car, who are going on for a Masters and aren't worrying about careers just yet and they don't seem to understand the value of money, responsibilities, and living on their own.  In the past I've been unable to go out or travel down to London to see everyone again.  I simply didn't have the cash or the car to do so and sometimes I haven't been quite sure that they've understood that. 

I spent the summer after graduation becoming an adult and probably experiencing the best things I could ever go through.  I was shoved straight into real life and it was tough at first but I got through it. I'm working, Pete is working, and slowly things that I thought we could never afford (like driving lessons and a holiday) could possibly come into our life now. 

I think these lessons could also help me when writing and when the time comes to query.  It took me three months to get a job and it could take even longer to get published.  If I can keep going for one experience I can certainly keep going for this one.  I think in the end we all get what we desire.  Sometimes it just takes a bit longer with a few struggles and obstacles on the way.

Now... I shall stop talking like a wise grown up and go watch some Demon Headmaster while I write about teenagers going through a dark phase in their witchy lives. =P


  1. Well I wasn't in school that long. After high school, I worked all summer and then through my Associates Degree I continued to work (while living at home). I didn't continue because my scholarship didn't pay for more and I didn't want to go into huge amounts of debt and my parents couldn't afford it. So I continued to work more...eventually moving out and living on my own which got even harder after I was let go of my good paying job. I don't have nearly the schooling you do but I ran into difficulty of people saying I was too qualified for a simple position. What they don't realize is that you need a job and you don't care, though I guess they don't want to invest time in you when you could just leave for a better opportunity. Anyways glad things are looking up for you.

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us. There is so much truth here, I found myself nodding like a bobblehead. I hear ya. I taught for a couple of years after graduating with a teaching degree and then my province decided to cut back on education like crazy. I was out of a job, and do you think that anybody else would hire me? Too qualified to do anything else even though I needed something to pay the bills. I even had one person set up an interview with me, and when she found out I had a teaching degree, she told me flat-out that they wouldn't hire me. They were worried that I'd cut and run as soon as a teaching position showed up. They might not have been wrong about that, but still. So frustrating. It's times like these when we realize that all of our misguided notions about what graduating and have a degree means are shot to bits. I'm a little wiser now (as I'm sure you are too), and I've moved on to the best of my ability. :)

  3. I hear ya, Robin! When I graduated from Hull, I spent a summer looking for work and not having a lot of success. And that was... a long time ago! I, too, applied for positions I was overqualified for, but I just wanted *something* to get my foot in the job pool, earn some money, have something to put on my C.V., and get a start--and not be dependent on govt. handouts or the charity of friends. The highlight of that summer, though, was my American girlfriend coming to stay, and us getting married that following December... and us moving to the States the following March. But that's a whole other story! :D

  4. Eve, with the insane debts you come out with after university, maybe going straight into work and going up to the top through that is better. If I was 18 now and knew all of this I'd probably look for alternatives to university. I wouldn't go. Jobs aren't guaranteed and the tuition fees are now up to £9000. It's too much.

    Jaime, I'm surprised they made cuts in education. If anything, I thought teaching would mean I was secure. But it could go wrong so easily.

    Colin, I felt the same way with part-time and shop jobs. No, it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life but I was ready to settle with that rather than unemployment. I still would have been happy to have something.

  5. Oh no Robin, don't tell me this! I'm entering my last year of uni in September and since I don't plan on doing a masters this is what I will have to deal with next summer. I try to console myself with the fact that I have been practically on my own for fours years before I graduate since the parents live on the other end of the world but obviously I still get a lot of support that will be gone once I graduate.

    But I love that you fought through and are doing well now - hope is there ;)

    Tough but great story - thank you for sharing!

  6. Hopefully you'll have the luck I didn't with jobs. But I can't lie and say it's easy. Though I think it does depend on your degree because some people had better experiences than others after graduating.

    It was tough finding a job but I would recommend looking at universities when the time comes - tons of admin jobs and student support. They're always there so there's something to turn to. :) So even if it's not what you want to do, it's worth applying for and doing until the right one comes along. Best of luck for your final year!

  7. This is a great post! I still have two years to go until I graduate with a degree in Nursing, but even that isn't a guaranteed job. It's a bad time to be trying to find a job here in Canada, too.

  8. Wonderful post, Robin. So honest and such a reminder that life isn´t easy. I was unemployed for awhile after an internship I took (after 2 Master´s degree...) and I started doing translations while applying everywhere like a mad woman. I was very lucky in the sense that my now-hubby had a permanent contract already and a good job...and I found something great a few months into it. But you just ask yourself so many questions and at the same time, you grow up. Thanks for sharing!

  9. It was really eye-opening to me when I applied for an entry-level job at a library some years ago, and a lot of the other candidates were folks in their 40s and 50s. Laid off from their jobs, these were people with degrees all the way up to Ph.D.s plus years of experience in their field. And then I was laid off from the bookstore job I had shortly thereafter, so it can happen at any stage in your job life.

    But you are exactly right in that it is wonderful preparation for submitting your writing. You have to develop a certain self-confidence and self-sufficiency that is separate from your job or your writing, because you may not get the validation you want for a very long time. It sounds like you have that part down! Best with your future endeavors.

  10. The job market everywhere is pretty much crap, and for English majors it's even moreso. I lucked into a swanky finance job right out of school, despite the English degree not because of it, and that has really been the only sector I can find jobs in ever since... which is too bad because I dislike finance immensely, lol.

  11. I totally agree that the people at the job centre have no idea what they're talking about! My summer after I left school was's just the time since then that has sucked!

  12. Great post, Robin. Good for you for facing reality and real life and making it work. Sounds like you've got a good head on your shoulders.

    And I love your retro housekeeping photo. :)

  13. Thanks Sara XD. I have a weakness for anything 50s.

    Rebecca, I hope things get better soon. And at least we know its not us. Crappy job centre and fussy employers!

    Crystal, sorry it's not the business you want. But at least you got something that pays! Hopefully you'll get to the place you really want to be. :)

    Angelica, it's shocking who they just send away. My aunt's cousin has recently been made redundent and she has been working there for so many years. Just like that and it was a human resources job. She's going freelance now but it's hard to set something like that up.

    Elodie, I'm envious of your two Masters! I would have loved to have done a MA in English but if I was struggling to get a job with a BA in the subject would a MA even help?

    Samantha, it's just absolutely awful. Especially when I think back to high school how it was university or nothing. Our teachers insisted that not attending university would not get us anywhere. And look at the struggles people have. It's poor preparation.