Graphic Design

March 2013

Where did you study?

University of Cumbria

What did you Study?

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

What year did you Graduate?

2012

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Tall, dark, hairy.

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

Initially I was back at my parent’s house for about three weeks, frantically looking for work or internships, as I wanted to move out as soon as possible and get some experience in London. I was fortunate I got a number of interviews through an exhibition I did at University, which led to a couple of internships in the capital.

Some girls from my course were renting a house in London and said there was a spare room going, which I boldly took. My first internship was paid, but my second was just expenses, so I didn’t have the money and had to borrow money from my parents.  I was told that I would be getting a job at the end of my last internship, however, after six weeks the company told me they could no longer afford to do this, but employed two of the guys on the same internship, prioritized because they started a week before. This was upsetting and very irritating, considering I had kept on going, unpaid, because of the promise of a job.

So I was back to frantically looking for a job again, which was a very difficult time and extremely stressful. I claimed job seekers allowance and continued to borrow money from my parents, so aside from being desperate to stay in London I really wanted to repay the faith they showed in me. I became a total recluse, spending all day and night looking and applying for job vacancies, while my flat mates went out and came back drunk, a feeling that I craved! In hindsight I should have given myself more of a break. However, I succeeded a number of interviews and eventually, after two months and at a time where I had no choice but to move back home, I got offered a job.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I work for Youth Music Theatre UK as their in-house Graphic and Web Designer. I get to upload videos of alumni Ed Sheeran and Charlotte Ritchie! I am enjoying it a lot, mainly because the  people are amazing – it’s a small, close knit team, but I see it as a stepping-stone, as I eventually want to work for a Graphic Design Agency.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

It did in terms of starting me off – I was offered a couple of internships from an exhibition in London which was through Uni and which eventually helped to secure interviews.

Though it did not prepare me for the pace of the working world and various technical issues like setting up artwork to print. You definitely need to have work experience in order to get a real taste of working in a design studio.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Just stick at it. I know it is very difficult to get motivated if you are constantly getting rejected, but I found persevering and having a positive attitude eventually leads to success. If you go into every application with the belief you will get an interview, you are going to find selling yourself and giving the relevant information a lot easier when you are writing applications. I always believe if you put the hard work in, you will eventually get the rewards. I think I have demonstrated that…

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

I’m currently at home with my family for Easter eating cheesecake and watching crap TV!

That’s it. Stuart, you have been wonderful.

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Journalism & Media

March 2012

Where did you Study?

De Montfort University

What did you Study?

Journalism & Media

What year did you Graduate?

2011

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Reliable, Ambitious, Loyal

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

I thoroughly enjoyed the summer and did temporary work while looking for a job to suit my skills gained from my degree, even though I wasn’t earning great money, nor was I getting anywhere looking for a permanent job…

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

At the moment I work for Sainsbury’s. It’s not my dream job even though the people I work with are brilliant. I am constantly looking for employment to suit my ambitions and goals so I will do it for as long as is necessary.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

University has given me the confidence and gravitas on the CV to go looking for types of jobs that I really want to do, and that’s helped no end. Without my time at University I wouldn’t be the person I am today, know the people I know today, and I’d be a poorer person for lacking that.

Describe your Uni experience? Did you face any obstacles? The positives, the negatives, reveal all. Terrible lecturers can be anonymous!

My Uni experience was great. Set aside the number of people who came to Uni for a laugh, came to get drunk, came to have a social life in a different city and treated the classes like they were secondary, I enjoyed it.

As cliché as it is, I learnt a great deal about myself and changed an awful lot during my three years. It wasn’t very easy for me initially, but I’d never change my experience again and even though I’ve not found a job relating to my degree yet, it doesn’t make me regret my time there.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

With flexible hours I don’t enjoy the 9-5 Mon-Fri job I’d want to have – I’m a weekend worker and different days in the week. Retail sure is varied!

That’s it. Ian, you have been wonderful.

Journalism & Media

May 2012

Where did you Study?

De Montfort University

What did you Study?

BA Joint Journalism and Media

What year did you Graduate?

2011

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Cocky, Athletic and handsome 😀

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

I worked through the summer as a film extra. Following that, I started to look for a proper job, as there isn’t much work in that area in the winter and found a job working as an I.T Associate Recruitment Consultant for a recruitment agency.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I am still currently working in I.T recruitment. This is more of a platform to save some money to travel. My dream job would be a Football Agent or Sports Journalist (think that’s a long way off).

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

Yes, working in recruitment, most companies prefer candidates to have a degree. I needed a degree to get the job I got. Also, it helps with general living, I never would have been ready to go into full time work at 18/19.

Describe your Uni experience? Did you face any obstacles? The positives, the negatives, reveal all. Terrible lecturers can be anonymous!

My Uni experience was amazing! I know it is what everyone says, but they were honestly the best days of my life so far. You are in an environment with thousands of people who are in the same situation as you, which is a strange concept by itself. I spent the majority of my first two years going out five nights a week, making new friends (who I will hopefully have for life), playing football in the day and going to lectures sparingly. In the 3rd year it was a bit of a different story and you have to actually pull your finger out a bit, but that’s worth it. It also helps you become more independent, living with my friends opposed to living with my family made a big difference… I had to actually cook for myself :O. I miss Uni loads, and would definitely go back if the circumstances were right and I didn’t look like an old man compared to all the Justin Bieber lookalikes.

There were of course drawbacks to University, we had some shocking lectures with average-at-best lecturers. And of course the most obvious one being the MASSIVE amount of debt I am now in (even though I took a massive £8 off of that last month with my pay-cheque). However, it was definitely worth it!!

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

You definitely DO NOT want to change your career path. Today, I will be in the office, calling candidates for various IT roles that I am working on. I am going on a client visit on Thursday in Reading, which is a bonus as I get a massive free lunch (which I will probably spill down my suit) – that is by far the highlight of my week. I have got some candidates interviewing this week too, so I will have to guide them through that, which is one of the perks of the job. It is always nice to find someone a new position.

That’s it. Toby Hone, you have been wonderful.

Creative Writing & English

May 2012

Where did you Study?

De Montfort University

What did you Study?

Creative Writing and English

What year did you Graduate?

2011

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Thoughtful, depressed, loving

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

I started looking and applying for jobs after a couple of weeks and I volunteered in my son’s primary school to do real work, such as finger painting and dot to dots! For the first two weeks I made the most of having my life back ie. I read trashy magazines, instead of ye boring old textbooks the size of yellow pages, cooked proper food that didn’t go from oven to freezer to plate and stayed in bed until afternoons.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I am a teaching assistant, working with 12 – 16 year olds. It is a stepping stone on the way to my dream job (primary school teacher) but it has made me think that I am unsure whether I would prefer to work in primary or secondary, so I’m going to stick with this until I am sure of what I want to do.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

I think that Uni has helped me because I would struggle to become a teacher without having my degree. However, I also think having a degree is overrated because whilst you are there it’s hard to build up work experience, so other people have worked their way up in companies, and when you leave Uni, you’re only just getting started!

However, if I didn’t go to Uni then I probably would have got forced into a job that I hated with no opportunities. I also wouldn’t have met the amazing people that I did and learnt the valuable things it taught me.

A vocational degree would probably be better to enter straight into a high paid career, as with an English degree there’s no specific job area that is crying out for it. With the fees having gone up to £9000 per year, I wouldn’t even consider going at this price because I don’t think that my earnings after Uni would be worth that amount and I don’t think the whole experience is worth that much!

Describe your Uni experience? Did you face any obstacles? The positives, the negatives, reveal all. Terrible lecturers can be anonymous!

Throughout Uni I felt like a bit of a loner, an outsider and like I didn’t fit in. My son was only two and a half when I started so whilst everyone else was living in halls, enjoying life away from their families for the first time (I had already been living away from my parents since 16) and going to the pub after lectures, I had a house to look after and was bringing up a child as a single, young mum. I did make a few select and special friends, but I feel like I never had the ‘full’ Uni experience of living in halls, getting drunk and being pushed home in a trolley etc. The first two years I managed to keep up with deadlines; the third year, I slipped behind in a lot of things, struggled to cope, and nearly gave up three months before the course finished. However, all of the teaching staff on my course were amazingly supportive and went out of their way to support me.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

My working week ahead includes working intensively with pupils who need to meet deadlines for their GCSE assessments and a non-uniform day on Friday!

That’s it Sarah*, you have been wonderful.

Drama and English Studies

July 2012

Where did you Study?

The University of the West of England.

What did you Study?

Drama and English.

What year did you Graduate?

2009

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Innovation masquerading randomness (would’ve made it grammatically correct but I always stick to the brief)

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

Being visually impaired, I stayed at home while I was at Uni, being lucky enough to live in a city (Bristol) but not confident enough aged 19 to travel to a new one. The end of Uni was therefore a lot easier for me than for any classmates.

I wasn’t the average living-at-home “drive in for class then leave, get my grades and use them” student. I couldn’t drive for one thing. I wanted to be involved with everything I possibly could. The Drama Society was a big part of my Uni life and I got involved with external theatre projects from the people I met there. The summer I graduated I was invited to go to Edinburgh with one such troupe, as a Front of House manager. It was the first time I’d been and I had a wonderful time. Not having been cast in a role, I wrote a play during the rehearsal period and received some good comments about it, as well as expressed desires from people to act in it. I realised that this was a good way to keep involved in theatre. I also re-joined the Drama Society as an alumni member, having been elected secretary and carried on with my weekly trips to the Bristol Old Vic Young Company where I took the Writing for Theatre course. All the while, I kept up my 6- year-old part-time job in the Disney Store to earn money. That year was like living in a dream.

It was the year after when I realised I couldn’t carry on like this and needed to do something to move forward. I went back to the Drama Society again, this time starting my own Creative Writing group and taking on the post of Productions Manager and transferred Disney Stores to be closer to town, where the theatres were. Much as I still loved these things, my friends were moving on and the freshers were becoming younger. I needed to find something else to do.

I had spoken with a tutor earlier the previous year about Post-graduate Study, which had motivated me to get a First. Now I had one, I thought I ought to apply. Still not a confident traveller, I shied away from Drama school auditions, opting instead to apply for an MA in Playwriting. I thought little more about it until I was offered a place. I remained apprehensive about it right until I left Bristol. Royal Holloway was a campus University so it was safe for me but it was also near London which would give me a good opportunity to embrace the theatre scene. I have now been here 9 months and the trips to London get easier every time I go. In fact, London expects people to get lost so I am more independent here than I can be in Bristol.

Note: I was surprised at how little the MA cost, it is very good value for money.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

My MA finishes in September and for a while I see myself acting and writing freelance and trying to find an agent. I have managed to secure a Front of House job at the Bristol Hippodrome which breaks me beautifully into my desired industry without the worry of paying rent and is the flexible kind of job perfect for budding artists. I think my Disney Store experience has held me in quite good stead. My mum is retiring from teaching this year so my financial contribution to the home will probably increase but hopefully the four of us will manage. I do not plan to live at home forever but it’s quite convenient right now. I plan to stay in Bristol for about a year before hopefully moving to London, perhaps transferring ATG venues.

I’m not sure what my dream job is. Obviously a successful actor, playwright and singer but these are always short-term. If I have an amazing scholarly idea I may try for a PhD in future work in a University, as I found myself to be quite good at teaching people to be creative, but this would require funding. I don’t want to teach in a school, having seen the amount of paperwork my parents bring home, plus I hated school too much to go back to such an environment, even in a different position.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

I think Uni has made me. I would absolutely not be the same person had I not gone and have tried to take every possible opportunity it has given me. I have learned academically and socially and become confident enough to at least think about doing what I really want to do.

Describe your Uni experience? Did you face any obstacles? The positives, the negatives, reveal all. Terrible lecturers can be anonymous!

I absolutely loved my UWE experience. It was filled with people like me. There is a real community feel to UWE and the staff take a real interest in graduates as well as current students. Obviously, with a 100+ year group there are going to be some students more noticeable than others and it can be difficult if you are not one of those who makes your voice heard initially. You must be confident and actively seek guidance. I was lucky enough to be approached by a lecturer in my final year and asked what I was doing next year but if no-one does this for you, you need to be forward and approach a lecturer with whom you have a rapport and ask for a meeting. Don’t worry if you’ve already graduated- send them an e-mail.

The main obstacle I faced was probably shyness and the realisation that I was learning alongside people as good as me and better for the first time in my life, making me feel quite average. My eyesight also meant that I wasn’t as confident as they were when it came to travelling- I got lost in my own city more often than my friends who didn’t come from there! Living with my parents also gave me a bit of an immaturity complex, though I am eternally grateful to them and am glad that I will not be spending my adult life in debt. I worried that I wouldn’t make friends as easily but I made some lovely friends, one of whom I frequently stayed with after nights out – I tried to get as much out of Uni life as possible while still working as hard as I could.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

My weeks are pretty unpredictable at the moment. I normally read, try and write my dissertation, then look for the next opportunity to go to London!

Thought: If other people are just as good as you, you are also just as good as other people.

That’s it. Amy, you have been wonderful.

Inspiration. Aim. Mission.

Inspiration

Trawling the internet for stories of comfort, where people admitted that they too, were suppressing their worth to zero pounds, or back at their local supermarket, acting through a series of forced happy sounds when a seventeen year old boy says “when I leave University I really don’t want to be like you”. Battling against the grind of family members, friends, enduring to ask one question: “why?”, I decided to create After Uni.

Aim

A site with the sole intention of uniting and supporting Students and Graduates, through the medium of refreshingly honest interviews. A ‘home’ for us, to breathe relief and take comfort, knowing that we are all going through the same.

Mission

1. To not feel embarrassed of our situation and to know that we are all in the same boat; to know the full story.

With social disconnection after University and Facebook at times retaining previous sociability, but research indicating, one in three people visiting it’s site and feeling worse, I feel it crucial that Graduates have access to other Graduates ‘real’ lives after University.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/facebook-study-envy_n_2526549.html

I encourage Graduates to offer advice, to share their ‘life after University’ in as much detail and honesty you can give.

I suggest that the more honest we can be to each other, the more we can get through ‘after Uni’.

Students I encourage you to follow.

2. To use each other’s stories to learn from, gain advice and connect with each other.

If a Graduate is in a line of work you are interested in, then leave a comment underneath the interview or get in touch with afteruni@yahoo.com.

3. To see that things do get better, but to stop comparing or feeling behind – everyone gets knocks at different times.

The interviews are set out under the number of years that people have graduated for.
This should show:
• Progress over time.
• Encouragement to stick at what you want to do.
• Insight as to whether work experience/internships are beneficial.
• S**t happens.

4. To keep this as a source purely between us: Students and Graduates.

Please do get in touch at afteruni@yahoo.com. Honesty can make all the difference.

Lauren Powell x

Medieval and Modern History

July 2012

Where did you study?

Birmingham University.

What did you Study?

Medieval and Modern History (BA Hons).

What year did you Graduate?

2005

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Couldn’t possibly comment.

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

Controversially, I decided to stay in Birmingham rather than return south (to Winchester, where I’m originally from). I was playing in a band at the time, so I spent a few months staying on the floor of a bandmate’s flat. It sounds rock ‘n’ roll but it wasn’t – I was fed pumpkin seeds and given an electric drumkit as a pillow.

The singer and I ended up (serendipitously) temping for the same company – a public sector organisation, which funded further education for disaffected youths. Essentially we were paid to send faxes and email our friends and eat communal buffets on the fourth floor. It wasn’t exactly challenging work, but being under-employed was better than being unemployed – it paid the rent and I met the odd interesting/inspiring/insane person along the way.

I spent a year with the company, in which time I moved into a house share before joining the ‘dark side’ of the private sector and embarking on a career in marketing.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I’m working as a copywriter for a communications agency. We provide marketing content (essentially editorial and design services) for clients including Toshiba, Siemens, E.On and Honey Monster Foods. We’re a small company but with some pretty big clients on the books.

‘Marketing’ can be a bit of a catch-all for arts graduates. It’s as interesting a discipline as you want to make it, so it’s worth doing your research before you dip your toe into what is a very broad field. Market research, for example, is a million miles from working as a ‘creative’, which in turn is a million miles from media buying or account handling.

A lot of the pleasure (or pain) comes from the brands and clients you work with, and the media in which you are communicating. Micro-managing a graphic designer as he bangs out a poster for a service station canteen is a far cry from Mad Men. However, hearing adverts that you have created on the radio, or seeing copy you have written in public or in the press is a real buzz. At least it is for a sad copywriter like me! You have to experience the mundane briefs to identify what’s interesting.

I can see myself spending many more years in communications. It’s a fast-paced, progressive sector that’s rarely boring. Digital media is becoming ever more important and as one of the generation who lived through the digital revolution, it’s great to work within it.

I think ‘dream job’ is a bit of a red herring. I defy any British office job to be dream-like on a drizzly Monday morning. I think it’s more about aspiring to a role in which your strengths and talents are recognised and rewarded. In my case, it’s nice to be paid for my creative ideas and writing skills, but every job surely has its nightmares. ‘Marketing’ is an inherently subjective field, so you’re often at the whim of opinions and personalities, meaning people (clients) can soon make or break your day.

I think there’s also an important distinction to be drawn between ‘output’ and ‘process’. Your dream ‘output’ might be working for a good cause, like an inspiring charity, but if the ‘process’ of this role is all spreadsheets and pie charts, it might not be the job for you. Working in brand communications, I appreciate that I’m not necessarily making a profound contribution to humanity, but I enjoy the process of being creative every day. Getting the right mix of worthy output and engaging process is crucial.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

It’s a tricky one this. My degree almost certainly helped me to get and impress at, interviews (ears pricked up at the mention of a First), but I think once you’re in a job, it’s advisable to keep mentions of your degree to a minimum. If I were to talk it up at interviews now (seven years after graduating), it would be seen as amateur, and probably a bit desperate. These days my degree gathers dust on the second page of my CV, but it’s good to have it on there.

A degree allows you to jump through certain hoops but it certainly doesn’t guarantee a fulfilling, well-paid career, or even a modestly-paid job. There’s nothing like the crushing feeling of discovering that the lad from school, who struggled to scrape together some A-Levels, is now on 5K more than you. That’s when feelings of being sold down the river by Mr Blair et al can flare up. But the tables do turn.

To use a crude analogy, a degree is a bit like an invite to a house party but an invite that only gets you as far as the front gate. You’ve still got to find a way into said house, whether by charming the hosts or asking those nice neighbours your parents know to lend you a back door key.

When it comes to securing that first temping job (not everyone walks into a grad scheme and not everyone wants to move back in with their parents), your degree is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Talking up your degree to ‘Paula from Manpower’ is a bit like holding up a red rag to a bull. Forget tales of dissertation successes, which will only make her foam at the mouth, she’d much rather you simply fibbed: ‘Yeah, I’m alright on Excel’. The experiences a friend and I had with recruitment agencies inspired us to write a comedy about graduate recruitment called ‘Twenty-Two Thousand CVs’, which you can see at http://www.youtube.com/forresterfletcher.

Also, going back to my house party analogy, your degree doesn’t protect you from the huge bouncer that is the dreaded psychometric test. Regardless of how good your degree is these inane tests (and they’re about as helpful and reasonable as your typical bouncer) can scupper your career plans in an instant. Almost every large graduate scheme seems to insist on using psychometric tests as a default part of the application process, as if they’re some sacred rite of passage. I, along with many others it seems, think this is a big mistake. Psychometric tests don’t and can’t test essential personality traits like ambition, motivation, conscientiousness, analytical ability, creativity or interpersonal skills. Their only purpose, it seems, is to massage the egos of ‘left brains’ – those who are incredibly logical, but not necessarily incredibly motivated, or ambitious, or effective etc. If there’s a sure-fire way to keep creativity out of a business then flooding the application process with multiple-choice questions about one-dimensional shapes is it. All a psychometric test does is test someone’s ability to answer a psychometric test. If employers want a helpful model for identifying an individual’s working style then they should use Myers-Briggs personality types. But that’s quite enough of my ranting.

Ultimately, I think my degree has helped me to get where I am. There’s no doubt that having a good degree will give you certain advantages over your ‘university of life’ colleagues. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they regard you as a research genius or a grammar guru – which goes to show that all those hours spent wading through dusty periodicals weren’t necessarily wasted.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Don’t rule out working for small companies! You can get direct exposure to senior people, often-entrepreneurial senior people, and develop a much broader skills set than you would tucked away in a silo of a large organisation. You can probably be yourself more too. And, if you’re a ‘right-brain’, you won’t have to grapple with that psychometric bouncer.

My job hunting tips: have a repertoire of CVs for different jobs/sectors; buy The Guardian Guide to Careers by David Williams (there’s some good stuff on interviews); prepare for ‘quirky’ interview questions (I’ve had both ‘what’s 7% of 7?’ and ‘Windsurfing or caravanning?’); get some interesting hobbies and never forget: you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. If a company/interviewer doesn’t feel right, for whatever reason, go with your gut instinct and look elsewhere.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

I’ve got a phone interview with a client tomorrow morning regarding the emerging economies of the CIVETS countries (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa). The client is a language services provider and I’ve been tasked with ghost-writing a 1,500-word article for a trade press magazine on the communication challenges faced by countries entering the CIVETS markets. Which is where the History essay skills come in.

After getting up to speed with the CIVETS (so I know what I’m talking about), I’ve got to plan a month’s worth of Facebook content for the Honey Monster. I’ll be looking to create engaging posts in the right tone of voice for this iconic brand character (there goes the marketing spiel). Oh and someone’s just given me a headline to write for an article in Kennel Gazette, on the subject of the privatisation of forests.

As a copywriter you’ve got to be able to write about absolutely anything and everything– from economics to Sugar Puffs to Forestry Commissions.

That’s it. Olly, you have been wonderful.