Life After Student Loans

Graduating uni is a big achievement, but it’s also a big change. I knew I loved studying and would miss it, but wasn’t quite prepared for some of the challenges of transitioning to post-student life. And it’s only been two months!

At first I did what anyone with no plans and no money would do – ignored all my problems and went diving in Wales for 10 days with my friends.

…and sailing in Croatia for 10 days with my mum…

But then I was back! And ready to take on the world. The first order of business was getting a job and starting to claw my way out of my overdraft. I started applying to anything that looked vaguely appropriate, from casual part-time to permanent full-time positions. Simultaneously, I was seeking volunteer positions further afield to get relevant zoology experience, and even chancing my luck on the odd paid job in zoology when I could find one. It was a time of many applications.

In these weeks, I really struggled with aimless boredom. This has been my major problem post-graduation. For years I’ve been working towards something I’m really passionate about and interested by, and as brilliant as it feels to achieve my degree, the sudden absence of a long-term goal is quite a shock to the system. Shoutout to the parents (as always) for dealing with some tears and reassuring me I’m always welcome at home (not really a solution, but a lovely thought). They also are reliable providers of excellent advice about getting out there, taking on projects, and making your own motivation. Their wise words will feature heavily on this blog.

I had a phone chat about a permanent job for a fitness tech company, and have a lot of respect for the interviewer who said to me, “You’ve got a great CV, you’re the kind of person we want working for us – but it looks like you’re a zoologist and you’re going to be looking for opportunities in zoology. Honestly, it’d be really disappointing to us if you left within the first 18 months.” He didn’t bullshit me and I didn’t bullshit him. I agreed that was likely and we decided to part ways with no hard feelings. This also prompted me to focus my search more on temporary type roles, which I think was a good decision.

I quickly signed on at a catering company and a commercial cleaning company. Neither of these provided many hours but it was better than nothing and both were genuinely nice people to work for. Big ups to Gleem, who have a great company ethos and are just legitimately decent guys managing to run a successful business. Who’d have thought it?

While this was a start, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I needed full time hours. Also, my boyfriend and several of my best mates work ‘normal’ 9-5s and I wanted to have the same schedule as them so I could still have a functional social life. (Aside: about a third of the British workforce don’t have these supposedly normal hours, so spare some compassion for your friends and don’t brag about your weekend too much if you know they were working!).

So as a graduate with a First Class Honours from the University of Bristol, how hard could it be to get such a coveted position? Well.

Many immediate-start type jobs are advertised by agencies, so you often don’t deal directly with the employer to start with. I ended up registered at two agencies. The first I registered with on purpose, and while they did their best, nothing really came of it for me. For the other, I applied to a temporary court usher role. I figured why not – I always enjoy adding eccentricities to my CV. I was forwarded for interview and offered the position, but first I needed an enhanced DBS certificate. I applied for this (£44! Supposedly to be refunded by the agency when I started work) and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I then received a phone call from the agency to tell me that due to restructuring, the position was no longer available.

This came the same day as a £99 bill for a new drysuit zip, so I went to lunch with a good friend and got quite solidly drunk over the afternoon before eating a stuffed crust takeaway pizza and going to work a catering shift with a hideous hangover. Because I make good decisions.

The same agency had an office admin position they wanted to put me forward for interview for. I went, but wasn’t selected. However, another team in the same department also had openings, and I was recommended for one of those. I went for yet another interview where (bless my new line manager) after a quick chat I was basically told I could start ASAP. While my DBS certificate still hasn’t arrived, the agency has had online confirmation it’s been issued. So I was good to go.

How’s the new job, you may well ask. Quite honestly, it’s a job. I’ve spent the past week of my life scanning documents and searching the least organised database the world has seen. But it’s a job. I get to go home at 5 and this weekend I don’t have to work. So I’m going camping and diving. You can’t say fairer than that.

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