I finish uni in two weeks and I have got absolutely no idea where I am going, what I am doing or how my next moves are going to play out.
Up until this point in my life, I spent most of it studying. From three years old under 18, my life was dedicated to school and as soon as I graduated high school I knew I needed a year off. Just one year to myself to do whatever I wanted before I had to make another commitment to my studies. I worked part time in a café, went on a couple of holidays, worked and travelled America in what was a real journey of self discovery.
Then came four years of university. I started studying at Monash in a business degree and I quickly learnt that wasn’t the path for me. I failed my first semester of uni and at the time it seemed like the worst thing in the world but looking back now it may have been the best. It forced me to explore other options, other passions and my true love had always been with writing. So I slowly transitioned into Journalism and after falling in love with the industry, I decided to transfer and complete the degree at Deakin.
So here I am: Four years, two universities and a degree swap later; on the verge of starting my life out in the real world.
Up until this point, I have always had my path planned out. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and where I was going. Now that I can see the end, it’s a pretty scary place to be.
First thing on the checklist is finding a job. I can confirm this is easier said than done.
Checking countless job websites and search engines every single day can be a draining task. Then having to ruffle through everything on offer to find the handful of jobs that you’re interested in and then culling down that list based on your experience, the asking criteria and location.
That’s the thing with journalism – sometimes the best jobs aren’t in Melbourne, or even in Victoria. Is relocation a serious option for me? Am I really prepared to up-root my entire life to start a new one?
So after all these cut downs and considerations, you may be left with about 5-10 jobs to apply for each week. Hours could be spent perfecting and sending off each application and the harsh reality is that you probably won’t hear back from most of them, if any at all.
Honestly, it’s a really discouraging process and at times it’s very emotionally draining.
I could open up an advertisement for an entry level position and the recruitment criteria could include a tertiary degree in the field or similar, minimum 2 years relevant working experience, skills in Microsoft Office, MailChimp, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, an exact idea of how to improve the company and a pet dog … talk about daunting.
Forget about landing a job, being shortlisted for an interview is hard enough.
It’s not easy and the prospect of leaving uni without a next step is fast becoming a reality. While I’m totally unsure about what my next move is going to be, I’ve narrowed down my immediate future in a few short points:
I’ve had some incredible internship and volunteer experiences throughout my studies. There hasn’t been a moment over the past two years that I haven’t been doing some extra writing away from my uni requirements. Whether it be in the form of a formal internship, volunteering my time to start ups, popular blogs and community websites or dedicating hours to starting up my own blogs and social media websites. Who’s to say all of this should come to an end just because my studies are over? So the paid positions may not come straight away; I can throw myself into internships and gain more experience in the mean time and keep working towards a full time job.
A news outlet may not want to hire me straight away to work for them, but they might be happy to pay me for a story here or there. Freelancing has becoming increasingly popular option for journalists who are figuring out their next step, or trying to break into the industry. This is still a way to potentially get writing in the Age or Herald Sun without actually being contracted by them.
Never Stop Networking
You never know who you’re going to meet and how they might help you get somewhere someday. Networking events are awesome – if not through the Melbourne or Rural Press Club then through broader networking events. There are also plenty of people you meet socially who might be able to help you along the way. In an attempt to keep track of my networking, I have a Linkedin account to connect with people I meet. Twitter, too is a great way to reach out to people for ideas and a platform to share my work.
Let Yourself Live
I’m a really driven person and motivated to get my career going… but what if that doesn’t happen for a month or two? After high school and university there is nothing wrong with taking a little time out to do what I want to do. Maybe go on a couple of holidays and blog about my experiences, go and tick a few things off my bucket list. I have my whole life in front of me to work and build a career but only one chance to be free and do me. Life is meant to be lived, so why not do a little living now.