2020 Has Been Hard for Everyone. Especially Graduates.
If you had told me at the start of this year that I wouldn’t physically get to hand my dissertation in, I wouldn’t get a graduation, and I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to my friends at university, I don’t know how I would have got through the start of the year.
At the start of 2020 I finally felt happy within my career path. I was doing a Media and Journalism degree at Northumbria University and by the end of 2019 I knew I wasn’t going to be a journalist, I wanted to go into PR and marketing. I had done a PR module in my second year which I loved and had done an internship in digital marketing over the summer. But, at the start of 2020, even though I was only a few months off graduating, I was ok with not knowing what job I would get. I knew it might take a while to find the right one for me, but that’s ok, I had lived at home throughout uni and I had no expenses. I was finally brave enough to go to the doctor’s and get some help for my anxiety. Then aunty rona showed up.
The first few months were tough on my anxiety. Which was weird, I though I would actually be ok with being in the house all the time, the anxiety is usually triggered by being away from home. But I just had an unsettled feeling constantly. It also didn’t help that I didn’t have anything to do, I only had 2 essays to complete for Uni and the final deadlines were April, and I did think applying for jobs yet because I couldn’t actually go out to get to see what the offices and people were like, and that is a big deciding factor for me.
By the time it came around to looking for jobs in July, the same time as I probably would have started looking if the pandemic wasn’t here, it was hard. There were barely any marketing roles and if there was any there weren’t entry level roles. I even went back to looking for journalism jobs which are hard to come by even if there isn’t a major global pandemic going on.
I was at a crossroads, do I continue my unsuccessful search for a career which is starting to cripple my mental health and make me feel depressed, or do I start looking for just normal jobs in retail or food, whatever I could get my hands on until the perfect job came along. Then I saw it. When looking for entry level marketing jobs an apprenticeship had came up. I knew a lot about apprenticeships as my sister had done one in a garage when she was 25 and she is now working as a mechanic in Norway. But I had not really thought about them at that point. I thought I would just apply because I was applying for everything and anything. About 2 hours later the woman from the apprenticeship agency thought I would be perfect and set up my first two interviews with companies. In the end I got the first apprenticeship I had applied for, which I must say did boost my confidence. But, I still had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind, I’ve just done a three year degree, I’ve got thousands in student loans from it, yet I’m doing something that is aimed at eighteen year olds coming out of school.
This feeling went as soon as I started my first day there. There was three other apprentices starting with me that day, a girl who had just left school but then a boy who had done his first year at Uni and decided it wasn’t for him and another boy the same age as me who had gone through other apprenticeships to finally find this one as the one he wanted to do in digital marketing.
Another thing that I would tell myself is that at age eighteen I wouldn’t have had a clue what digital marketing was, and I definitely wouldn’t have gone for a job in it. I needed those years at Uni to find what I wanted to do, have a good time, meet amazing friends, and make connections within the industry.
What I’ve learnt over 2020 about my career path and also with my mental health, is you can’t go through life thinking everything is set. You can’t predict what is going to happen every day. You have to live in the present and take life minute by minute, because even what you are having for lunch may change.
I’m now in the best place I’ve been this year. I’m six weeks into my apprenticeship and I’m loving it. The start of my apprenticeship was rough with my anxiety playing up just because I was finally leaving the house and I had a purpose in life again. But I got through it, and I know anyone can.
If you are a graduate or just someone who has lost their job during this awful time, go for career choices you may have not gone for before the pandemic, apply for jobs you don’t think you will get because you might get it! Furthermore, have confidence in yourself, don’t let your mental health take over, because you are confident enough to brush it to the side and not let it disturb you. And finally the future looks bright, I have so much planned for next year, and unlike other University’s my graduation has not been cancelled but moved to next year so I will finally get that goodbye to that era of my life.