Words by Indigo Jones
It’s the Summer which means it’s now that intermittent time between finishing university in June and going back in September. It’s the uni equivalent of that week in between Christmas and New Year, with the same amount of alcohol intake but with far more breakdowns! Except when you have just finished your final year, and you’re on the verge of graduation there may or may not be a “going back in September”. This then leads to further breakdowns, and a dreaded anticlimactic feeling that you have left your university experience unfinished. You’re flooded with questions about “What’s your plan?”, “Have you applied for jobs?” and “What are you doing next?”, when in reality you are still stuck stagnant in the uni bubble you have built over the last three or more years.
This anticlimactic feeling has swallowed me whole over the last month or so as I finished my final year of Cardiff university during the recent pandemic. After submitting my dissertation on the 3rd of June, I had finished my degree and had no other commitments, no way of celebrating and the underlying knowledge that everything I aimed for had been cancelled. I was robbed of my dissertation photoshoot outside of my uni building and I wasn’t able to have a celebratory pint with friends in my local pub after submission. Three long years of university had finished after one click of the mouse, and then I was overwhelmed with the empty feeling of “What’s next?”.
Before my final year of university, I had never once thought about doing a postgraduate degree. I had already spent the first 18 years of my life in education why would I want to spend one more? I first began to consider it due to the recurring worry that I would struggle to be employed following graduation. I was concerned that I wouldn’t find a job that I liked, or worse I wouldn’t find a job at all. I therefore decided to put my application in for various different journalistic postgraduate degrees and then make my decision, but now it feels like Covid-19 has made the decision for me.
I feel like I have unfinished business in Cardiff, and after losing my final few months in university due to the Coronavirus, I feel like I have unfinished business in university in general. Perhaps I just feel the need to cling on desperately to student life, as I survive off a diet of pasta and prosecco, completely unaware and unable to face the real world and the difficulty entering the job market. In the back of my mind I have the teachers or acquaintances who would tell me before I began my degree, how competitive journalism is and how I’d struggle to find a job, and I would shake it off and think nothing of it. Now in 2020, I am less naïve and fully aware of how difficult finding a job will be. I am currently facing this difficulty as I apply for jobs, spending hours on applications to not even get a reply. It seems that I spend my days and nights weighing up the pros and cons of doing an extra year at university, especially as I become more and more disappointed by the lack job responses.
For me, the anticlimactic feeling of finishing university slowly turned in to a dreaded awareness of a lack of structure in my life for the first time ever. We are born with the structure of beginning nursery at 2, primary school at 3, comprehensive school at 11, at 16 we finish school and either begin A Levels or start apprenticeships. My school geared me up to go on to university, and I have always been spoon-fed by the structure in my life that is expected of me. But now that I have no structure, I’m unsure of what I’m doing next, I feel like I’m jumping into a pool of water and I’m unsure of how deep it is. Similar to everyone else in the same situation as me, I guess I’m going have to hold my breath and take that leap and see what the future has in store. Whether that’s finally finding the perfect job or maybe an MA in Journalism, either way, becoming a graduate during a pandemic may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.