Man, I get asked this question a lot, and hey, I understand it is a perfectly normal and obvious question to ask as I approach my last year of uni – but if I’m being completely honest I haven’t really got a Scooby-Doo. I have sat down many times in front of my laptop reading careers advice and researching different masters programmes and occupations and yet it all remains a little daunting – especially given there are also a lot of roles that are not even advertised.
The beauty of studying English is that there is not one set career path which means I have an almost infinite number of options available to me. However, the downside of having so many options is that how do you even know where to start?! When confronted with so many options, my brain frazzles and I shut the laptop telling myself that ‘I will look again another time’. Instead, what I usually end up feeling is a pressure and expectation that I should want to strive for the ‘top’ jobs, working in a city in a high-stress environment chasing the big bucks rather than living a simpler, quieter life. I would describe myself as a somewhat ambitious person – of course I want to do well for myself and make a positive difference but not to the detriment of my health and work/life balance. That being said, I would be lying if I said money wasn’t an important consideration to me – I think to some extent it is for everyone, whether they choose to openly admit it or not. Whilst I do believe that money can’t buy you happiness, I also believe that money can buy you security, stability and can help you live a healthy lifestyle – things that I also value highly.
Now I know, I know – “I have plenty of time to decide” and “I don’t need have to have it all figured out right now”, but it would be nice to have a rough idea of what I might like to do in the future. I have a tendency to overthink and I love a good plan, and so inevitably the unknown can seem a little scary at times. And, of course it is only natural (at some level), that everyone wants to know what they are going to do next. But, up until this point in my life, choices have pretty much been made for me – I had to go to school, I knew what I wanted to study at A levels and that I wanted to go to uni. I have had the last 10/12 years of my life pretty much sorted. But now what? The first time I truly have the choice of doing pretty much anything with my life over the next few years I’m not sure what to do, and that is daunting but also exciting.
My stock answer to people who ask me what I want to do, is ‘publishing’. I’d like to work in some capacity in the publishing industry & I *think* that is still true. I am leaning towards publishing for two simple reasons, 1) I love books and literature and 2) I have done the most research about the publishing industry and its various roles, so I understand its career paths the most. The most logical next step to take to see whether working in publishing is for me, is to find some work experience – and it feels like I have tried! But, either the larger companies are not operating their intern schemes since COVID and are heavily oversubscribed or the smaller, independent companies are not set up for taking on new staff. My next port of call is to send out some emails to publishing companies and ask – I have nothing to lose by simply asking.
Okay – work experience aside, my current main dilemma is do I spend another year in education doing a one-year masters programme or take a year out – travel, find work experience or enrol on a graduate scheme and figure out whether I want to go back to uni. Both are good choices that could be equally interesting and enriching, but deciding to do a masters in 2023 requires a large amount of money and commitment & means I have to make a decision relatively soon… On the flip slide, it could could be really interesting and help shape my employment opportunities.
I have always liked the idea of studying abroad somewhere – albeit in a country where the course would be taught in English but it nicely combines three things I love to do: learn, travel, and grow as a person. Moving to a new country for a few months is a big, bold step but one that I think would be great for my self-confidence and world view.
So, I hope that if you are reading this my ramblings have given you some kind of comfort if you’re in the same position that I am. Or that you have come through the other side and can sympathise or provide advice as to how you ended up where you are today and what lessons you learnt along the way. If you only take one thing away from this post I want it to be that: it is okay not to have everything figured out. It is okay to feel a little lost about where life will take you next – and I say these things very much knowing that I need to hear them too. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that different opportunities may come and go, but ultimately if you are happy, does it really matter what you do?!