My Graduate Struggles

By Karla Hopkinson

When I was ten years old I knew I wanted to be a writer. Of course, as I grew up, reality hit me like a tonne of bricks as it does for many of us. I knew I should still hold onto my dream but if I was to survive in this world, I would need to find a ‘proper’ career.

Tip one: Don’t be afraid to try different things
In 2018, I graduated with a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing at The University of Huddersfield. Alongside this, I gained work experience at publishing company Pen and Sword Books.
Sadly, as lovely as my co-workers were, I found that I just didn’t feel that passionate about the work I was doing. 

That was when I decided to apply for an MSc in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University. I really enjoyed the course, made some great friends and even met my boyfriend (but that’s a story for another time). While studying, I volunteered for the online newspaper The Overtake. I enjoyed my time there, and I even had some creative articles published.
Fast forward one year later, I had finished my MSc and now worked part-time as an administrative assistant for two separate companies. I felt secure in the knowledge that I was able to earn an income until I found my dream job. Of course, with the arrival of Lockdown, the inevitable happened. Both my jobs went down the gutter, and I was left with an overwhelming sense of pressure and anxiety. Now, I had so much free time on my hands I didn’t know what to do with myself. After the initial shock wore off, my immediate response was to apply for any job I thought would hire me.

Tip two: Redefine your purpose and find your passion
I faced rejection after rejection, and I was beginning to question whether I would ever work again. Many months ago, I had also applied for a journalism scheme with the BBC. I had been checking my emails every day to see if I had reached the final stage. Then, a few weeks ago, the BBC announced that they would have to cancel the program for this year and if I wanted a place I would have to reapply in 2021.

In all honesty, I saw this as a blessing and a curse. Although I knew this would have been an exciting career path, I realised that working for the BBC would mean producing news based articles (if I was lucky).

Whereas, I had now come to realise that what I truly wanted to do was write creative articles for an online publication as I had done for The Overtake all those months ago.

Although the situation we are in right now is terrible, I would say I am grateful for the time lockdown has given me to think. As I found myself getting nowhere with applying for jobs, I decided I needed to apply for some online courses. This was in the hope that I would increase my chances of employability while showing employers that I was an individual with initiative and determination to succeed.

During my time at home, I applied for journalism roles. When that didn’t work, I found myself applying for content and copywriter positions. However, as I had no experience in either of these areas, I decided to start some online courses in digital and content marketing. I found myself looking forward each day to starting a new module, and I continue to learn so much as I go further.

Tip 3: Try a new approach
Yet, I was still finding trying to keep positive each day. The best I could do was to keep going with my
courses and take one day at a time. Then, just when I thought all hope was lost, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer announced on the news that he would be placing new funding into apprenticeship schemes. I had already considered trying this route, but I hadn’t been able to find anything. 

After a quick Google search, I found to my delight that there were multiple apprenticeships in Digital
Marketing now being offered. With nothing to lose, I applied to all Digital Marketing apprenticeships within driving distance. Within a day I received a reply with an offer for a place on the scheme. 

Once I have completed the three-week online course, I will have a one-to-one meeting with a skills coach. Then, if I am successful, I will be interviewed with one of their employers to secure my apprenticeship. I’m super excited to learn more about digital marketing and I hope now that this is the start of finally achieving my dream of writing for a living.

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