Career woes? Think outside the box

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So when I left sixth form, with fairly good A levels and a vague sort of idea about what I wanted to do, I wasn’t realistically ready for uni. When I say vague idea, I mean really vague, I was good at writing and IT and sort of thought about journalism and communications, but not in great detail. I mean, I was 18 so I was mostly interested in cherry VKs and Mcdonald’s saver menu. However, off I went to study journalism at Kingston uni, and it was pretty much the best decision I could have made.

When I first left uni I remember thinking OH GOD WHY? Why did I not go to medical school? Why am I not a singer? Why did I bother? What the hell do I do now? And so on. Pretty much the same wobble most graduates feel. The point of this story though, and what this post is trying to say, is that when it comes to getting stuck in your career choices, think outside the box. THINK WAY OUTSIDE.

I knew I didn’t want a typical journalism job when I left uni, and I ended temping for the NHS and doing some communications work, which was fine, but at the time seemed totally fruitless. However, five months in, as my temp contract was ending, I searched online using the words ‘healthcare, communications, writing, research jobs.’  All of the things I had been doing in a role I only took to make some money and fill my days. That haphazard search led me to a vacancy working in a ophthalmic research centre, doing some website communications, editing, event organising and database admin. I got the job, helped along by the part time position I held down in uni at an opticians, a role I never imagined would help me out in the future, and from there on I have spring-boarded into a career I didn’t know existed.

At uni we were told about magazine journalism, digital journalism, newspaper journalism, editing, sub-editing, layout and so on. However, I came to realise, upon landing this job, that there is so much out there if you are willing to widen the field. Not just for journalism, for all sorts of qualifications and degrees. Three years on from here, I am running social media and digital marketing for a HIV vaccine research campaign for one of the biggest companies in the UK. It’s interesting, I learn new things everyday and I get to spend my time working on things I enjoy, like Twitter, image sourcing and blogging. I work with people all over the world and when the project ends there’ll be great opportunities to travel. It’s also given me great scope for the future and what I can move on to when the time comes, and thanks to broadening my horizons and plunging slightly into the unknown, the future is looking pretty bright.

It’s pretty scary to leave school or graduate and feel like you need to follow a certain path, be it the subject you studied or what your parents really want you to do. Overwhelming is the right word I think, which is why sometimes taking a fork in the road to somewhere a bit different is the best thing you’ll ever do. A lot can be said for sticking with a dream, but when cold, hard reality comes along and bites you, and you need a job and money, why not take an alternative route? I once got to try a selection of diabetic jams as part of my job, and you know what, they were bloody delicious. Who’d have thought eh?

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