My Undergrad Story

My Undergrad Story

If you follow me on any social media or even just read my blog regularly, you would know that I recently graduated from university with a bachelors degree with honours. It is something I am super proud of and I am so happy I got the grades I did. I know a lot of people who follow me are still in university so I thought it would be a great opportunity to tell you all my undergrad story, from how I got into university to how I survived to the dreaded limbo of being a recent graduate looking for a grad job and what options there are for graduates after university. 

I attended university from September 2015 until June 2017, before university I was in college for two years this allowed me to go straight to uni at the third year, which in Scotland is the second last year of a bachelors with honours degree. I left college with an A in Media and Communications but opted to apply for university in the degree Social Science and Media. I have always adored learning, trying new things and pushing myself and while media is the career path I see myself taking into my future career I liked the idea of a split course, allowing me to dabble in another subject that I enjoy learning about while still studying the sector I have a great passion for.

I got into university after leaving high school a year early and going to college for two years. It was back in 2015 that I applied for university, so I can't really remember how I applied or exactly how I managed to get into university all that much. I applied through UCAS for five different universities and got four offers, for me it was easy to narrow down which one I wanted to attend, my university is closest to me in distance, it is close to the city centre, it has a pretty good reputation and it was the course which interested me the most of all five I applied for. When applying for university I recommend you apply for the highest amount, of course, UCAS allows you to, it was five when I did it, but I don't know what it is now. This gives you back up options in case plan A doesn't play out how you had hoped it would. 

Going from school into university is easier than from college, which you might find hard to believe. When you leave high school you are 17/18 and you have been in school 5 days a week 9-4 so universities don't expect you to have a bunch of experience in any field. When you have gone to college you go 2-4 days a week and are barely in full days, you are able to network with people within the sector regularly and they expect you to have experience. This experience can range from volunteer, unpaid work as a runner or make coffees in the office to paid internships and it is important you allow stand up and offer to take on any experience that comes your way which is cohesive with the sector you wish to move forward into as a career. I had a few work experience placements throughout my time at college, but I was advised starting a blog would help bulk my CV and now here we are, 3 years next month and heythererobyn is still going on. 

Being a third-year entrant wasn't the easiest thing I have ever done, although there were a bunch of us we were also dumped into classes with people who had been studying together in first and second year. It was as if we were trying to enter an elite club, no one really liked the newcomers and no one really wanted to interact with them all that much, but we had each other to befriend and rely on so it did become easier to ignore what was going on with the other students. It was even more difficult academically, we were pushed in at the deep-end, in first and second year of university your work isn't as important, you have two full years of figuring out how to work Harvard references, how to structure your essays, how to use the library and so on and so forth. 

Going straight into third year we didn't have that. Third year classes are taken into account when it comes to your final grade, so straight from the outset, we had no choice but to know Harvard referencing, know how to structure essays and know how to use the library etc. There were classes to help us, to teach us before any essays were due, there were chances to meet with a team of lecturers that specifically focused on your learning and helping you go forth with all the knowledge you need and there were chances to meet with librarians and figure out how to use the library. If you are a third year entrant I recommend you do everything you can as quickly as you can, attend all the essay writing classes, meet with learning development workers, meet with librarians and so on and so forth, take all the advantages you can to succeed in university. For someone like me, it was hard to admit that I needed that help, I am very stubborn and don't like to ask for help, but that isn't at all how you should see it. University is super important and it doesn't mean you are weak to ask for help, it means you are smart enough to not let your ego get in the way of your future. 

So university wasn't that terrible for me personally, it was stressful at times, it was overwhelming at times, but overall I was able to keep my cool most of the time which is good considering I am a complete stress head. The best way to survive university is to plan ahead, stay organised, do your readings and ask for help when it is needed. A lot of the time people don't email their lecturers simple questions because they are worried about bothering them or looking stupid, but they are paid to help you, they have to answer even the most simple and obvious questions. For me, surviving uni came down to prioritising, if I had an essay to finish, but I was invited to a blogger event or asked to hang out with friends I would put my essay first. If I had 3 essays due within the same week I would start them all early, prioritise the first one to be handed in. If I had an exam work 50% of my grade for one class but a presentation worth 15% of another, I would focus my energy on the exam. University takes up a lot of your time, but you have to prioritise your tasks and make sure you are doing your best when it is needed. If an essay is only worth 20% of a class, you have to decide whether you can let your grade slip if it is going to interfere with the grade of another class. 

For me, I found university a lot easier when I started all my essays early, the best thing I did during university was write in my planner that each essay was due a week earlier than it actually was. This meant that each time I wrote an essay it was finished in advance, I didn't rush around at the last minute and I had a whole week to go back re-read, correct and perfect. I also took all the help I could get when I needed it, especially when it came to dissertation time. Dissertation is a huge part of your degree and you should take all the help you are given because these people are helping you for a reason, to make sure you get the best possible grade and you should take that opportunity. The most important thing for many is that you shouldn't give university the chance to stress you out, approach everything with a calm mind, stay ahead of your assessments, know what it coming up, plan ahead and everything will run so much more smooth. 

When I started uni I was scared to speak up in seminars, to join discussions, to raise questions because I was worried I would look unintelligent, it is something that bothers me a lot, I am working on it. The thing is that this fear was so irrational because how many people in that class were ever going to remember? How many of those people was I going to meet again in the future? It was so silly to worry about what a bunch of people thought of me because, in reality, they didn't actually care about what I said, they'd forget it once I left that seminar room door and further we didn't even know each other's names other than the small friendship groups within each class, no one knew all 200-300 students within their classes, so chances of those strangers knowing who I was, was very slim. So I started to speak up, I faked a confidence that I eventually gained and I gave my opinions, I discussed topics and I asked questions and slowly but surely I began to understand everything even more than I did, to begin with, I learned things I wouldn't have otherwise known. 

So I was very naive when it came to university, I assumed that once I graduated I would know exactly where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do and getting there would be incredibly simple, of course, I was wrong. To put it into simple terms, the job market is a mess, I was stuck between getting a grad job and doing a masters and a pyramid scheme wanted to hire me. Even before graduating I knew I wanted to do a masters in marketing, I had realised a passion for all things marketing and I wanted to learn more, to get a job in the sector and to continue my studying. This caused an issue however as I didn't get accepted for at the most two weeks so I was stuck between applying for full-time graduate roles and applying for summer internships. I decided to be positive and apply for summer internships, which was good since I got accepted into the masters degree. This caused another issue, not everywhere wanted to have a summer internship and there were very few roles available in Glasgow. I swear I applied for all intern positions in PR and marketing and I went to at least one interview a week, I was neck and neck for the position at one marketing firm, but my lack of background in marketing specifically resulted in not getting the role. 

This was annoying as it meant my summer was completely wasted, I got no experience in my future sector, I wasn't proactive and getting involved in the field I was going into after university. I was so bummed out and it left me in a limbo of wondering why I'm not good enough, questioning my skills and worrying that it would affect my future after I graduate from my masters if I have no background in marketing specifically. I spoke to some other recent graduates and I wrote a post about all of this (read here) and I found out I wasn't alone. All graduates go through this exact scenario and it calmed my nerves, stopped my worrying and allowed me to feel a little less pathetic, my ego began to be reassured. You will go through this as a graduate and what you need to do is be pro-active, keep trying, do not give up and do not lose faith. It is incredibly hard, trust me, I know, but you are not alone and you are not a loser for not being able to get a job straight out of university, it is the job market's fault, not yours. The job market is a mess and graduates are one of the main groups being affected. 

So was your undergrad situation similar to mine? Would you like me to do more university related posts on here? Tell me in the comments below. 


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