Long time no speak..
I have been away from any blogging and social media for nearly two years and decided to get back into it.
The year after graduating, has been a very difficult one for number of reasons; both personal and academic. Many things I wish I could have done differently, so I wanted to pass on some words of wisdom – especially for recent graduates and final years.
I also wanted to sympathies with university students during the current global pandemic. I can’t imagine how difficult it must’ve been in these circumstances… But you have prevailed and (hopefully) achieved what you set out to achieve.
So here’s a guide on what it’s like being a post-grad, speaking two years on after finishing my undergraduate degree;
1. Make the most out of everything that’s available to you at uni whilst you can. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
You may hear this from tutors and tech staff but it’s very true. Everything is so much more expensive and less convenient – so take advantage whilst you can.
As an avid book maker, I am absolutely gutted I don’t have access to the print room anymore. I have learnt so many things there, the staff are amazing.. especially Louise.
2. Take every creative opportunity that you can (and are able to) to gain experience.
You don’t know what might come your way once you finish so any experience is a valuable one. Especially to create contacts for future employment.
I have managed to get a few fun jobs over my time at uni, which I’m hoping will help me along the way. It already has in many respects if I’m honest. I have done a few weddings as a second shooter, event photography for the university and even worked as a studio assistant for a commercial studio; Box Photographic.
All these experiences have helped to shape the kind of photographer I am today, from technique, to equipment. Even helped with my confidence. I now also know what I enjoy doing and what I don’t. It landed me interviews with very good companies because of this. I can’t recommend grabbing opportunities that come your way enough.
3. If you have had a plan about your future for a long period of time which makes sense for your needs – stick to it.
Don’t be swayed by people who mean well but may not know your full situation. Or at least take some time out to really think about it and maybe even delay the process a little bit.
My example of this is the MRes which I decided to do after I went to an open evening with a friend to have a look at courses for them… not myself.
Doing a Master’s was not on my mind at all, since I had a plan of getting a job at a commercial studio in Huddersfield for over a year. I wanted to do this for a number of reasons, and on that open evening my entire course of direction has shifted which I have been working towards since starting uni three years prior.
By no means was I persuaded or forced to do it. But I don’t think I would have been in that position if I hadn’t gone. I didn’t feel ready for the course, not at this stage anyway. This made me feel even more inadequate to do something as intense as an MRes.
I lost my love for photography and the subject matter I was aiming to produce. I felt overwhelmed and like a failure. I wasn’t ready for this commitment.
Finishing final year was such a high point of my year, that what followed was a big shock to the system.
In short, do what makes you happy. Deep down, you know what you want to do. But if you don’t… That’s fine too. Do your research, explore different avenues until you find it 🙂
4. Don’t be afraid if life leads you a different way to what you had envisioned. Even if it means retraining.
I’ve wanted a career in photography for a very long time now. But to my surprise, I’m currently doing an apprenticeship in Digital Marketing.
To be quite honest, after having such passion and love for the subject, but also after achieving what I initially set out to achieve academically and gaining some relevant work experience in the meantime, I thought it would be slightly easier to obtain a career in photography.
Not to discourage anyone, it IS possible. But… there are also many other jobs which your degree could be useful and relevant in. As much as I loved the university experience and all the talks, workshops etc that the tutors organised, I can’t help to think that there wasn’t enough of a conversation about alternative career paths.
I think if we could see examples of such people and all the different career paths available and possible to us earlier on, then it could prevent the feeling of disappointment or inadequacy if things don’t go as we planned or wanted them to.
Regardless of how it came about, I’m very grateful to be able to retrain and learn something new. I’m still able to express myself creatively, which brings me to my last point…
5. Stay creative, in any way you can or desire.
Even if for whatever reason you’re not able to express yourself creatively in your 9 – 5, it doesn’t mean it has to stop altogether. Over the past couple of years, I’ve worked on so many different projects to fill in that gap.
I think if you live and breathe what you do, creativity will find a way of coming out in some shape or form either way.
If you’re a post-grad, then find those opportunities. Whether, it’s working on your own documentary project, or working collaboratively to create a fashion portfolio, continue building on what you’ve learnt so far and seek new knowledge.
It would be amazing to be able to dedicate an extended amount of time to projects like you’re able to at uni. So, if you’re reading this and you’re currently at uni; relish the thought you have your assignments. Deadlines are kind of unpleasant but this is what you signed up to do because you enjoyed it.
Honestly, it goes by so quickly that reminiscing about those late nights at the accommodation or those last minute all-nighters in the uni library before deadlines, is quite a pleasant experience.
But most importantly, whatever your situation is, believe in yourself and your abilities. Go for it and do you.
I hope you were able to take something away from this, but of course everyone is different.
I realise that much of this may not apply to you.
If you’re interested, watch this space as I will be sharing some work soon of what I’ve been up to during my hiatus.