The Cambridge Curse

Getting stressed out about careers and having to sort the rest of your life out? AMY CARTER on facing the future, and how to deal with it now.

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Do you remember the sense of elation when, during sixth form, you got your University place? Obviously there were extra kudos for it being Cambridge (twattish but true, I’m afraid) but it was the relief, the excitement, all the “whole life ahead of you” type emotion that buoyed you up for the impending joy/doom of being a real student. And no matter how amazing it is when you get here, after the initial novelty has worn off, and you start working again after another long vacation, guaranteed the pressure will start: so what are you going to do after?

Besides being deadly envious of those doing a vocational degree, or hating those who arrived newly polished and determined to be lawyers/bankers/chemical engineers from day one (oh wow), this is a horrific question that unfortunately involves a lot of ghastly soul searching. Honestly, I have no idea. The careers service are all very well, but when on day one of year two your DoS casually asks if you’re applying for any internships this year, it’s obviously time to get your skates on and act like you know what the fuck you’re doing post-graduation, let alone during your degree. So, top tips for getting through this erstwhile crisis of confidence:

1. Lie. Basically everyone can say that they are thinking about converting to law. The milk round also guarantees free dinners, wine, and the opportunity to chat to some interesting people. Or, alternatively, just get smashed for nothing. Kudos go to any medics who wangle their way to free law dinners.
2. Be vague, but sound important. “Research for my novel.” “Working for a charity.” “Taking a year out to have a banterous and mad gap year that will be so much better than my first.” Honesty is not the best policy here: get people off your back by thinking of something totally serious, and out there, that you can spend your time doing.
3. Consider a Masters. Or a PhD. To those of you who are genuinely geniuses, or entering an academic career, I salute you. To the rest of us, it’s another year of being a student and putting off the real world for an indefinite length of time. ACE.
4. Get over it and head on down to the Careers Service. Pick up a cheeky free Cover Letters and CVs book and enter the dog-eat-dog-world of internship competition. Buy a sharp suit and go on jollies/interviews in London (amazing, as many firms will refund your travel expenses).
5. Copy your friends. Plan on setting up a company/training together/working in the media, and then pool all the possible job information you have to make sure you sound knowledgeable. Be wary of doing this with CVs, however.
6. Turn your hobby into a career. Deadpan journalists all want to write after: rowers want to keep rowing: God only knows what the role play society are aiming for. They’re sure to get there though.
7. Work it out. Or be as nepotistic as humanly possible and use every single contact you can think of to get a foot on the ladder.

So, get keen and start working out your life plan. Freshers, heads down m’dears, this isn’t your stress yet. The rest of us, enjoy these student years, make them the best of your life so far, follow your gut instinct, and do what you love.

Another gap year it is then.