We can tell what you’ll be doing in five years’ time, based on your university
Hopefully not still interning
Everyone has a five year plan, some even have a 10 year plan. Where you end up is often far different from where you want to be, either on a yacht with your dream job and a penthouse apartment or in your single bed in your parents’ place.
In five years’ time, you’ll only just be crossing the Scotland/England border on the train you set off on as soon as you graduated. Skite is still your way of life though, and now you’ve seen there’s more to your day-to-day than pints down the local after a boring 9-5, fulfilment is just around the corner, and it’s Newcastle shaped.
Mopping down wooden bar tops, sodden with the dregs of ale from the local Morris dancers rowdy Christmas social. The quiet life is for you, getting involved with the community centre, the lycra brigade at the sailing club, moving to Cornwall and fearing the big city and all it lurid desires.
PwC? Deloitte? EY? KPMG? A ‘future leaders’ programme perhaps? But all that extra curriculum and rugby has dramatically gone to waste. If not in some tragically boring audit job, you’ll be working for a tragically boring startup with your braindead lacrosse mate, where the first letter isn’t capitalised and there are hardly any vowels.
Liverpool, probably. Working in HR, making pals over the water cooler about your mental nights in Limelight, cos you’ve just got the best craic. You’re the favourite at socials, until you try get off with your boss’ wife at the Christmas do.
Midlands uni. Mid-range Ford. Middle management job. Just pretty middle of the road. Once the Brummie accent you picked up at uni faded it was much easier to sweet talk your way into the chain of command at Robert Dyas.
Fuck the system right? The corrupt taking richer, the poorer being robbed of what they deserve right? And the oil companies! And the politicians! The bastards! Shame though, turns out being a political lobbyist for Shell really was your calling all along.
Shiny Topman suit on your back, 20 pound houseboy haircut, obnoxious but still shit Audi, you my friend will have all the trappings of an estate agent selling two-beds in Chingford. Three years spent living in the shadow of your far superior neighbours has left you well equipped to cope with all the night shifts you have to pull as the office bitch.
Promoting an app that will REVOLUTIONIZE student housing forever.
Turns out, your 2:1 from Durham isn’t quite as attractive to young singles at a wine bar as it was to Deloitte’s HR. You dream of making partner by day, and dream of having a partner by night.
Saturdays are chai latte days. You’re well and truly in your quarter life crisis. But the two up two down your parents bought you in Chalk Farm is simply divine, and you get to cycle to your glass office on a fold up bike. You might have even ventured onto motorised two wheel micro scooters, but then got rinsed and your pride was hurt so you swerved it. The drugs, the liberalism, that’s all behind you. Voting Tory was far more lucrative.
You’ve just been fired from your Dad’s friend’s PR firm. Now you’re living back home, working at your parents’ pub, the only place you’ll be able to wear your beloved lacrosse hoodie at work. Either you’ll never leave, or train as an accountant.
You make a quarterly zine exploring experimental fashion memes. Everyone in your squat loves it.
Five years’ time for Glasgow – moved to Edinburgh or stayed in Glasgow, doing a graduate placement with some kind of management company or failing that, fell back into retail and moved into your parents’ Edinburgh flat, you’ve graduated from the student clubs and now live for Saturday nights at Light, Kushion, Sanctuary or Garage or if you’re feeling edgier then Sub Club, you wear literally the same things you wore to uni “jeans, puffy jacket, hipster glasses” to work as it’s smart casual and on the weekends you get your one smart shirt out.
Still working in the job your mum got for you when you graduated in her office. You say you’re a banker but that’s a lie. You sit at a desk and write emails to the bankers. The highlight of your week is five aside football on a Friday night.
Grad schemes were the be-all and end-all, and finally you found one to suit your homebird lifestyle. You couldn’t be too far from Mum and Dad, but your local council has some exciting but not too exciting opportunities for you. Work hard, play a little bit hard, Sunday walks on the coast harder.
Publishing. Always publishing. These people are tortured nerds. They read books for fun, and for uni and they will read them for work, because literature is the last solace in this mad old world.
Why would you want to stay here? You could see so much more! You don’t need a conventional job, and conventional relationship, a conventional home, a conventional salary. Why don’t you just get a one way flight outta here, somewhere hot, somewhere more culturally enlightened. A beach hut in Zanzibar, and some khat to chew. An alpine lodge on a husky farm in Siberia, with some Russian pillheads for friends. A boating yard in Albania, with a third of Europe’s weed supply. The world is your oyster.
Whittling furniture out of coconuts and palm fronds on a sun-dappled beach in Bali – at least that’s what you tell yourself. After a brief sabbatical, you’ll actually be slogging away at Goldman for soul-destroying megabucks. You’ll have to tidy up your mullet.
Still thinking you’re a legend, but regretting everything you did. And selling Avon.
You’re going one of two ways. Either, it’s a life in politics – writing about it, researching it, talking about it, but not actually doing it. Save that for the people who went to a real Russell Group uni. The other route, charity. Start off chugging, then canvassing opinions, and pretending you care the whole time. Look how that turned out.
Everything you had was devoted to your chances of maybe one day running the 10k at the commonwealth games for Montserrat, your home nation (courtesy of your great-grandma and some creative paperwork). One snapped hamstring later and you’re stood at King’s Cross desperately holding up a piece of paper hoping someone takes a CV.
JP Morgan’s grad scheme chewed you up and spat you out. After treading all over the competition, you thought you’d made it, only to look up on your first day and have your face relentlessly stamped on by the polished brogues of sleep deprivation. You missed your chance to jump over to private equity. All your intern buddies are on the buy side. You’re just burnt out.
Working for Oxfam is great. You don’t have to struggle with finding ethically sourced ketamine any more because you ARE ethics. Problem is, getting to go to most festivals for free to educate pilled-up revellers on the alarming change in the median temperatures observed at 32 key sites worldwide isn’t quite enough to make up for how little you get paid. It is charity, after all.
Organising events for every start-up imaginable. All of them were set up by promoters you at first wouldn’t let you into Swingers, but now form most of your WhatsApp conversations. You still visit Newcastle more than you should, and wear black shiny puffers more than you should.
You were never quite the same after you bumped into that lamppost. Nobody’s particularly keen on employing someone with a third from Northumbria. With nowhere to turn, you took solace in your one true love: SNOW SPORTS. Does it still count as a ski season if you’ve been there long enough for most of your friends to have kids?
Just because you went to uni in the countryside, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up a farmer. It does however mean the suburban life is for you. Cue a career as a teacher cut short by the birth of your three darling children. You’ll be in your own house by the time you’re 26, your Volvo 4×4 on the drive, settled down early while your other half commutes into the city. Skiing holidays, beach holidays, every half term filled with holidays, as long as Kingsley the Bichon Frise gets a spot in the kennels.
Pacing the corridors of Westminster in a bespoke suit, rubbing shoulders with the rich and powerful. Except it’s still your dad’s suit, you’re carrying coffee round and haven’t really made any impressive connections. You never were that special.
Even your parents are starting to pick up on how often you describe your job as ‘definitely not pyramid selling’.
You changed your name to Jett and you only take business calls whilst bungee jumping. That’s the only way you know how to run your start-up, which is the first one of its kind to offer people the chance to give birth whilst windsurfing away from sharks. Exciting stuff, right? Well that’s not how the life of someone who willingly chose to go to university in Reading will turn out.
Leafy Egham had its charms, but the world has so much more to offer. You could move further into London proper, and work your dream job at a publisher or in marketing, but in five years’ time you might only just be getting your foot on the ladder, especially after three consecutive summers travelling around South America, then China, then New Zealand on a motorbike, then a road trip up the coast of Mozambique. Founders was by far the most exotic thing you’d ever seen, but now you’ve been tattooed twice, met three times the amount of boys who even existed at Royal Holloway, and lost your shit on a few occasions. You can settle down now as, finally, you’ve had your fun.
Probably still in Sheffield you boring, boring bastard. It’s no secret you still listen to all the songs from the cheese room, but that’s as about as exciting as you get. On the plus side, you have done well for yourself. Either because of ambition, or because you’ve got nothing else on your plate. “Nice day out with the Mum” your IG will read, every, bloody, Sunday. Dog walks. Cape Verde holidays. Weddings. Sleep.
Internship number one feels like so long ago. Your first night in the single bed at your parents’ house felt like so long ago. Your first career option didn’t work out. Neither did the second. This temp work is getting boring, but at the letting agent, you found your calling. It’s not as glamorous as your ideal world in advertising, but for now it will do. Foot on the ladder and all that. Next stop, double beds and less nights at your other halves place.
That pretty castle up in the hills, with your half American half upper class British son and daughter, four golden labradors, three Range Rovers, hubby with a six figure salary – a lie. A big fat lie. You’ll be in Clapham with the rest of us, sticking to the floors of Infernos. Sorry Alexandra, you’re not the next Middleton.
Basically, you’re either a doctor or still at uni – forever on the grind. If you finally left the grasp of Tooting, you are most likely now somewhere dotted around the country treating patients and saving lives after all those years at George’s. You probably still hate Jeremy Hunt too.
You went travelling for a bit, until you realised the only place on Earth you can wear a baja hoodie without getting mocked is Brighton. Now you’re back in Sussex putting together a tearful Master’s thesis explaining how Corbyn was hung out to dry by the Blairites.
You don’t know what your job is, you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing, all you know is that you work in an office (probably somewhere in the Midlands) and you fucking HAVE IT LARGE every single weekend. And also some weekdays. You’re pushing the boundary of what could be considered a weekend warrior with your pints at 4pm on a Thursday and your laissez-faire attitude to Monday start times. You’ll probably never learn to not go out on a Wednesday.
Your three years in the big city have established you unrivalled connections at the big firms in the City. But your poor choice as an 18-year-old to study philosophy has really come back to hurt you, and now you’re resigned to a career in advertising or marketing when you’d much rather be in the big bucks. Your friends at Exeter and Durham who studied business might be able to help you out with work experience, but that’s what your whole time at university has been. Still, you’ll live in Clapham, or maybe Highgate if you’re feeling more refined, just not in the penthouse apartment you dreamed of, having worked your way up through the ranks. That, or you’ll have had a breakdown from all the smog, emigrated to the cold depths of Norfolk and started life all over again as a carrot farmer.
Five years down the line you look back and realise that you’re still in Bristol and still not really doing anything. You haven’t grown out of Motion yet but you’re ‘definitely going to give up drugs soon’. Every night you lie in bed, dreaming of a board meeting and using words like ‘synergy’ and ‘cohesion’, but surprise surprise that 2:2 in business with events hasn’t really got you anywhere. Since you’ve stopped getting a student loan you’ve crawled down the property ladder into the hovel that is Fishponds, but you’re definitely going to nail a job interview soon. At least you’re still cooler than anyone at UoB.
Endless applications for training contracts eventually turned into a year as a barista and living out of your Mum’s place in Muswell Hill. But you turned it round didn’t you. Through one of your many connections, a French friend from your three years in Leam invited you over to Paris where you stayed for longer than you expected, became bilingual and came back and landed a place at a Euro-centric think tank. Congratulations, you can now speak without embarrassment to your mates who went to Oxbridge.
You expected to have a primetime slot on Radio 1, or at least a regular writing gig at one of the nationals. You do have one of the best student media in the country after all, and you were the features editor of Vision for a term! Instead, you’re working at Heart Radio Dunstable in the mornings and spending your article sending angrily worded freelance pitches about Labour to the New Statesman. They haven’t replied to you. Not yet.
Contributors: Tom Jenkin, Roisin Lanigan, Bob Palmer, Daisy Bernard, Greg Barradale, Reuben Nash, Grace Vielma, Lauren Kenworthy, Josh Kaplan, Hamzah Niaz.