As someone who had to move back home after studying towards a Journalism degree in London, getting a journalistic job straight off the bat wasn't a realistic goal.
Carrie Bradshaw I ain’t (yet).
After a brief stint in the dreaded world of retail, I escaped and swapped General Assistant for a shiny new title: Administrative Assistant at a digital media company in my home city.
It wasn't the journalistic role I was aiming for, but getting any kind of job in a media company felt like a big step towards being a fully-fledged adult with a degree in Journalism. Suddenly I was killing the game and becoming the real deal – the very thing you wish away time for as a kid and pray never comes as third year draws to an emotional, alcohol-induced climax.
No, I’m not blowing stories wide open for a living just yet, but actually that’s OK, because I know that I’m getting there.
To the outside world, ending up in an admin role when you have a degree in, well, anything other than admin, probably seems like you’re on the wrong path, but that’s where the outside world is wrong.
Landing a role in something unrelated to your degree actually can bring you closer to being #CareerGoals, and here’s how:
1. Be realistic and manage your expectations
Aim high, achieve your dreams and all that. But let’s face it, trying to land your dream job in your chosen degree field as a job-hunting graduate can seem like a disheartening and demoralising task. I know it was for me.
English, Maths and Science students are sick of hearing: “Ooh, are you going to be a teacher, then?” Well, Journalism graduates get their own onslaught of completely original and not at all annoying questions, like: “Writing for The Times yet?” or “Are you going to work for the BBC?” As if there are no other publications that exist on this planet!
PSA 1: no graduate who’s just spent well over £27k on a degree only to end up in a role they definitely didn’t need said degree for has ever miraculously forgotten that they’re still not where they want to be.
PSA 2: “Dream” jobs are hard to come by – if they exist at all. Please don’t think that because we haven’t got one yet, we’ve just given up on the hope of ever getting one.
2. Think of the money
At the end of the day, I knew if I wasn’t earning I wasn’t going to get any closer to living out my dream of having a cute terrace house in London with a roof top garden for all my most profound, existential thinking. May as well get a full time job that actually gives me some kind of career growth in a job that doesn’t make me feel dead inside.
Sure, you may not be earning it the way you want ultimately want to, but you’re still earning.
3. Apply to a variety of jobs
The thought of being paid to write for a living gives me honest to god heart palpitations. But I quickly learned I had to be practical. I applied for a variety of roles, regardless of how much of a stretch they were from my chosen career. At the end of the day, as long as you hear back from just one out of those hundreds of applications, it’s a step in the door to bigger and better things, right? Right.
There’s no right or wrong way of ending up where you need to be, and you never know which roles will get you there.
4. Throw yourself into side projects
As an aspiring writer, it’s important for me to nurture my art. Blogging got me through my time slaving away hours in a supermarket and continues to be the space I’ve carved out to write about what I want when I want. I can be frank and honest about how I’m feeling, and also talk about those topics I’m interested in whilst it’s not yet in demand in my working life.
Having these kinds of hobbies is something you can also show off when it comes to those gruelling job interviews, whether it’s for the dream career or just for right now. Things like a blog show commitment, passion and an all-important extra dimension to you that will interest employers and highlight your kickass qualities.
5. Work your butt off doing the mundane tasks and prove yourself
My initial months as an Administrative Assistant at My Favourite Voucher Codes were exactly what you’d expect from any kind of admin role, no matter what company you’re working for. Lots of emails, drink-making and carrying out miscellaneous tasks that support the team’s workload. But that didn’t last.
Having a positive attitude really gets you far in life in any context. Now I am assisting in finishing off a website rewrite with the hopes of going on to blog and do any other kind of writing I can turn my hand to.
6. Get that chip off your shoulder and take the mountain of nit-picky feedback
As a Journalism graduate with a shiny First Class degree (never going to get tired of bragging, sorry not sorry), there is a certain amount of ego that comes with it.
Achieving so highly during my time at university gave me a degree of confidence that I might actually have an ounce of knowledge and talent in the thing I truly loved to do. So going into copywriting was a challenge I assumed I would soar at.
Turns out, just like anything new, it takes time to become accustomed to what is expected of you. I grew a thick skin to the critique given to my initial merchant pages and soaked up the onslaught of feedback. All experience is good experience, etc.
7. Be open-minded about what different job roles can teach you
Working from the bottom, I began to understand the inner-workings of a business, as well as climbing up the ladder in my own field. I didn’t expect to be writing as soon as I was at My Favourite Voucher Codes, but now there are future plans to learn more in terms of outreach and blogging on a professional platform. All of this will give me the basic tools needed to begin freelancing and one day go out on my own.
8. And learn everything you can from your peers, no matter what they do
They might not be Albus Dumbledore levels of wise (I mean, who is?), but the people you work with are going to have different perspectives and experience you don’t.
Although aspects of particular jobs might not be your forte, or what you’re looking to go into in the future, it’s interesting to listen and get a basic understanding that you might find yourself transferring into future roles. Whatever company you work for in whatever industry, it’s finally breaking that vicious cycle of needing one shot to get experience but every job requiring you already have it.
So, here’s the thing, I may not be “living the dream” within the first year since graduation. But I’m on my way.
As long as you’re realistic about the opportunities available to you and remain open-minded, no one can tell you you’re going the wrong way. Everyone’s career journey is different and we’re all smashing it in our way.