How I'm navigating post-uni decisions
I thought things would be a little clearer when I graduated from university; expected to know what I wanted to do career wise, wanted to have a plan, and hoped, perhaps, to have made the first steps to put that plan into action. This, since graduating last year, is not the case.
Heading to university in 2018, I was unclear on what my future might look like, as many people are.
I changed my mind about what I wanted to study at university exactly 3 weeks before A-Level results day. With one A-Level under my belt, and waiting on results of a further two, I was ready to do a course in Geography. But a mix of uncertainty, imposter syndrome, and a crisis of confidence, I made enquiries to change course. Results day rolled around, I pulled out of my place to study Geography, and applied through clearing to study Film and TV Production at Northumbria University.
At this point, only one thing was clear - I wanted to go to university. I wanted to be sure I'd enjoy what it was that I was studying, and at this time, didn't think I would want to study further beyond my undergraduate course. The decision I made was worthwhile as I did enjoy myself; I also picked up many skills I've been able to apply outside of university, and gained an appreciation for a craft I'd thought of at a much younger age, but never seriously enough to pursue. I don't regret changing courses, but I do question whether the reasons behind my decision - serious doubts about my own academic capabilities - should have been better addressed at the time.
Having graduated from my course in 2021, the question has once again arisen - what should I do next? In all honesty, I still haven’t figured this out, and that is okay. I have friends at all different stages of life and career - ones newly graduated like myself, friends who graduated in 2020 who opted for Master's study right away and now wonder if it was the right choice, and friends who are already building successful careers in their chosen industries. But contrary to how it might seem, few people I know have things completely figured out.
At age 19, I was fairly adamant in my decision that I would not want to pursue study beyond undergraduate level - the thought of another year or two of education beyond the three ahead of me felt a little unnerving. Now, and perhaps in part due to an underwhelming final year of undergraduate study, I feel less 'finished' with education than I expected. I have a pile of postgraduate course guides, study brochures, and info packs, and a bunch of bookings to open days and virtual events - I'm exploring my options right now, and it feels good. One thing I have learnt from my friends' experiences is the value of time - there is no time limit on pursuing further study. Finances, however, are a key factor in decision making, and I want to make sure I'm making the right choice moving forward.
Since graduation last year, while looking for work both in and outside of the creative industries, I have been taking time to research the areas of study that interest me. I've been reading books, taking the time to volunteer where possible, contributing to online research communities, and attending online conferences and events. If I’m to do a postgraduate degree, I want to go in knowing the decision I've made is the right one for me. Information is valuable, but the decision still doesn't feel like an easy one. Having studied a practical course with a heavy reliance on coursework over essays and exams, I would be lying if I said the thought of writing academic text at a postgraduate level isn’t contributing to my hesitancy to make a decision over further study.
On reflection, I should have taken longer to decide what I really wanted to do before heading into undergraduate study, and it's fair to say this has made me a little more wary when thinking about making plans moving forward. Further study is an investment, both of time and money, and feeling comfortable and confident in those plans is important. Ultimately though, I'm excited to think about the future, and quite content in its uncertainty.