Why does everyone want to know what I’m doing after uni?
And no, it’s not consultancy
It's the obvious question, let's be honest. As most people will doubtlessly have experienced as well, whenever you broach the subject of your degree, whether it's at your aunt's birthday, at church or with a pull on the Cindies dance floor – the age old question of "what do you want to do when you leave?" arises.
When applying for a degree nowadays, schools and open days throw out words like 'INSPIRATION,' 'PASSION,' 'ENTHUSIASM,' as the main reasons why you should do a particular subject or go to a particular uni. In my own experience, little is often said about going to uni for the reason of being able to get a job.
However, this is a pretty new thing.
When my parents were applying in the late 70s, the focus was ALWAYS on going to uni so you could get into work. It still amuses and saddens me today that my mum, a Southern Welsh gal from working-class Newport, was shipped off to do Chemistry at Leicester, despite the fact that she hates science and worked in the completely contrasting field of retail marketing for all her working life. When I ask her why she simply replies, "that's what my school thought would get me employed."
Of course, things have greatly changed since my parents' day, where fewer people had the opportunity to go to university, and the job market (although under pressure now) was far more perilous for young people under Thatcher. However, the classic follow-up question of "what do you want to do with your degree?" still remains.
Clearly this question may irk some far more than others. Medics, lawyers, and architects' degrees are pretty self-explanatory. Although some may obviously choose to pursue something else after study, their degrees are still directly related to a specific profession. For us arts students on the other hand, this is another case entirely. If I had a frickin' penny for every time my Compsci friend tells me the chances of her being employed within 6 months are about 50% percent higher than mine… yeah I get it. History is a tricky one. Its not vocational, I seriously wanted to do it because I like reading about old dudes and dudettes of the past.
Personally, when I tell people my degree the 3 suggested professions often emerge – teacher, lawyer, journalist. I, myself, don't want to do any of those. This is then met with the confused look and awkward mutterings about working an a museum or some other history-ish place.
Frankly, my dear, I have no idea.
Having now entered the fearful realms of second year, these questions seem to be only amassing further. I find the pressure of knowing what I want to do when I leave Cam quite terrifying. Sure, I have a few ideas and interests but when I see my mates cycling off to numerous law firm dinners, chugging free wine and planning their summers around their new internships, HELL, even their very LIVES around their new career prospects, I can't help but feel a bit disheartened.
How do I decide what is right for me?? Should I know already?? Should I take on a masters purely so I don't have to wade into the real world and try to work out what steps to take next??
The list goes on.
At the end of the day, I suppose there is no right answer.
I am in NO WAY slating those who know what they want to do after they finish their degree. On the contrary, I think that's amazing. I'm blooming jealous. However, I'm also saying that, if, like me, you don't have a definite idea, or, if you seriously have no clue whatsoever, that's ok too.
I hope we've come far enough from my parents' day to see going to university as a way to study something you love, rather than just as a stepping stone to your future career. I'm not even halfway through my degree, I want to do be able to enjoy it while I can instead of worrying about how I'm going to earn my bread when I'm 30. For those on a 3 year course like myself – that's a pretty short time.
As Captain Mannering would say" DON'T PANIC. Que sera, sera.