Musings, Personal, Work

Goodbye University, hello real world

I seem to have read a few posts recently about the end of college or university. This post was freshly pressed yesterday and it took me back to the end of my uni days in 2004.

When I left University I literally had no clue what to do next. My degree was sociology – an arts degree which meant you could use it for pretty much anything and with nod desire to go on to do a PHD, I left with no firm plans and a high student loan (which never seems to get paid off!) Looking back, I don’t think I was that scared. This was before all the finance crisis and diminishing jobs so I felt like I would get something great once I figured out what it was.

As I was leaving, I did what most graduates do and applied for lots of graduate jobs in big name companies and in the public sector – civil service etc with no real passion to do any of them but just a hope they’d lead me on to something. I didn’t get far with any of them probably due to this lack of enthusiasm and so ended up in a retail job just to give me some money.

One of my past posts shows you want I wanted to be when I was younger but I found actually out there in the real world, you’re really unprepared for the reality of chosing a career. There isn’t much help. Sure my Uni had a careers centre but no one to say to me – this is what you’d be good at. And how do you really know until you’re doing it? They don’t really prepare you for life after Uni, they wave you off clutching your degree probably laughing at how much they got out of you.

In the end I went back to one of my passions – reading and writing. Where does that happen – publishing! I had to started out doing unpaid work and ended up not at a book publisher but at a B2B one but it lead me into human resources, which I  broadly enjoy and got me thinking about writing myself. And I think that’s the problem with careers – if you don’t have a dream job, one that you’re passionate about, a vocation I suppose, it’s so hard to choose your path.

I know now that my dream is to publish my own novel one day and until then I will continue to do the work that I do. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since I left university – I don’t feel like a fully fledged adult yet and even though career wise I’m on the fence about whether it actually helped me, it was a good experience and hopefully one day I’ll get invited back as a famous author guest speaker 🙂

Did you go to University / college? Did it help choose your career?



39 thoughts on “Goodbye University, hello real world”

  1. Its been 8 yrs since I left college and I’m right there with you–how am I a real adult? I still feel younger and that I should be not as responsible as I currently am but oh well.

    College was the best days of my life! I was there for 5 yrs since I had so much fun and majored in journalism but worked in banking for 6 yrs. Hoping to change that!

  2. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and it has been a long time since I left college and grad school.

  3. I have 2 degrees unrelated to anything I ever want to do. Reading and writing are my passions. I wonder how I could get into a writing job though…I have no experience except for a few flimsy freelance gigs. I would love to work in publishing , but not living in an area conducive to that.
    I’d like to have an enjoyable type of job to pursue, and then be able to read and write and pay all my debt on the side. Wonder how to do that. Would love to work from home…full-time blogging would be sweet 🙂

  4. Haha I don’t feel like a fully fledged adult either – maybe that’s a good thing? Somehow we think that it will all just be “figured out” by the time we graduate (as we will of course have become adults!)… But we only have the rest of our life to figure out! 😉
    I studied engineering for five years in University, have worked for more than a year now (as a mechanical engineer), and am still not entirely sure what I want to do or what field i want to work in. But lately I am trying to just have faith that it will all work out for the best and not feel like I have to have it all figured out right now 🙂 And I believe that all experience is good experience!
    And I know you will get published!:)

  5. Loved the post 🙂 I’m still going to college, actually, I’m just a freshman so I’ve got a bit left but I fully plan on being in the FBI or doing something with criminal justice! 🙂 It’s as close as I can get to saving the world… 😛

  6. I just graduated from college with my business degree in December. I still have no clue what I want to do. Oh well, we figure it out evenutally, right? 🙂

  7. College doesn’t offer adequate guidance about the real world. It’s such a culture shock when you leave college and finally go out into the real world. You have to “unlearn” many of the things you learned at college.

    I graduated from college last year and I know what I want to do. I’m slowly working toward it, but sometimes I feel like maybe I should have done something different… eh, time will tell, I suppose.

  8. I graduated last year, and I miss it! I was in the same boat as you. I wasn’t sure where I’d land b/c of the economy and I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. I still don’t even know! I definitely miss my college life!

  9. I went to college/university and I’ve done the whole grad school thing. Guess what, I am still not sure of what I want to do and both time I graduated the economy was having problems. I’m trying to figure it out right now. The only good thing is that I worked my way through college, so everything was paid in full. It was really hard, but worth it in the long run. A lot of my friends are still working on that loan, those things are like monsters.

  10. You have a passion and that’s a very, very good start! Something to aim for!
    I know what you mean about degree that’s good for everything and for nothing, I have one myself, sociology, ha ha ha.
    And I don’t have a career and I’m too old for one now and my degree doesn’t really give me any career advances either. What a pickle!
    Not to worry, I’ll emerge one day, I always do!

  11. I did not have a direction in college, picked business administration because I didn’t know what else to pick. I did most of my general ed, and I think I needed a few more classes for my associates degree, but I just couldn’t do evening classes from 7-10pm and get up for work the next day ALL DAY! Ugh and with no real goal or desire to BE anything in particular, I dropped out and went back, and dropped out, and went back and well…didn’t finish.

    I finally found my knack with Office Management and if I only knew back then! I don’t think you find who you are, because we are still changing and molding into adults. I was a completely different person at 20 vs. 25 and then 30! Once marriage/kids were introduced, I had a pretty good idea of what I’d like to do and what I was good at…

    then you get laid off, and discover other talents that your past helped shape for your future…

    I once asked my husband, why he wasn’t an Aerospace Engineer, he went to UCLA and got his degree (in a difficult field, one of the hardest) did it quickly and doesn’t have that profession. What the heck?

    He said, he didn’t know what he wanted and picked the hardest thing he could think of and Math came to him easily. When he graduated, there were no jobs. Now, he sees the job he would have had, and doesn’t like it and glad he’s not doing. He said, half the graduates don’t end up in the field they studied!


    So, you’re not alone! 🙂

  12. 2004 was the year I graduated from UCLAw. A week later, I hopped on a plane for Japan and spent a year and a half teaching English. Law school itself was an answer to the question, “What the #$@#$ do I do now? Why did I get an Anth degree again?!”

    Through the coercion of a boss, I did end up moving closer toward the practice of law than I expected. I now negotiate and administer contracts, which is, it turns out, a pretty great fit for me. I’m glad my boss kept pushing me toward this role, despite me frequent and vehement protest!

    I’m also glad to be doing it in LA instead of my hometown of Eugene, Oregon (where I started down this path a year and a half ago)!

  13. I’m a publisher too! I didn’t attend college, but fell into this job as a part time typesetter nine years ago. Ended up marrying the owner. 🙂

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