Before I applied to the University of Chichester, I didn’t know that a course in creative writing even existed. Throughout school, I loved reading, writing, studying different books and delving into metre, rhyme and rhythm of poetry. When homework was set to write a short story, I was that kid who went home and wrote 10 pages, stapled it together with my own front cover and handed in a handmade book. I was always drawn to English Literature, so it seemed natural to look for an English Literature course to apply for. But when you’re at sixth form/college, it’s hard to figure out which universities you should visit. I remember Googling ‘English Literature university course’. Chichester’s English Literature course popped up in my search, but was also accompanied with something I’d not thought about before: Creative Writing. At this point, I wanted a course I knew I’d love, and I didn’t think about the career it would lead me to.
I didn’t have a vocation in mind when I chose my course. In fact, I thought that one day I’d become a teacher, and I knew that I needed a degree before I could do a PGCE. So, I chose to study English & Creative Writing because I enjoyed it, rather than focusing on the career prospects at the end of my degree. Things turned out very differently for me. I applied to a PGCE course during my third year, and was offered an interview from the university I’d applied to. Being offered that interview made my decision more concrete, and this made me re-evaluate what I really wanted from my future career. I knew my heart wasn’t in primary school teaching and I knew I was hooked on creative writing; all I wanted was a career that revolved around it, so I withdrew my PGCE application.
If you’re at university wondering where your course will take you, my biggest piece of advice would be to talk to people. Talk to careers advice, talk to lecturers. Don’t feel you need to be directed down a path by someone else, but talk to them to find out what else is out there beyond the standard professions you hear about every day. There are jobs you will have never heard of before, or that you never thought you could end up in. When I left university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. What I was equipped with, however, was a passion for my subject, a first-class degree and a yearning to continue learning beyond the university environment. The lecturers on my course were incredibly passionate about teaching, and their vibrancy is something that translated into my own learning. I loved writing; I still love to write now. I enjoyed studying at the University of Chichester, and I learnt that I simply wanted to make a career from something I loved. At the end of the day, you make your own future.
The prospect of leaving university can be daunting. Where do you go? What do you do after that last, epic summer? How do you job search for a ‘real job’? Where can you get the experience you need? How do you go about making your own future? Here are a few things to keep in mind when you start life after uni:
- Know your worth. Sure, you’re a graduate, but you also have fresh talent and skills in your field. This is worth something to a future employer; if you’re offered a job it’s because they think you’re good, not because someone is taking a chance on someone without experience. They want someone who will learn quickly, train up well, and has a good set of skills already. You hold great value.
- Make your own experience. If you’re not sure where to get work experience, why not create it for yourself? Write blogs, make videos, start new projects. It’s all experience and can also show you’re motivated and a self-starter. (I did this myself by starting up a literary project – three years later, it’s a full-blown magazine with 4000+ followers).
- Continue to contact the university. The University of Chichester is a very caring community. I am still in touch with my lecturers, three years after graduating. You’ll find that they will always be willing to offer advice, even beyond the classroom. If you’re looking for experience, getting involved with your university can also be a great thing to add to your CV.
- Use job websites. The internet is where most jobs are advertised now. Newspapers will still have local jobs, but the internet will allow you to tailor your job search to you. Try searching on places such as indeed.com – they update daily with new jobs.
- It’s okay to not know what you want to do. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, except that I wanted to work within publishing. If you’d have told me three years ago that my first job would involve me writing for names such as Disney, Activision and LEGO®, I wouldn’t have believed you. By simply searching for ‘publishing jobs’, I found my first role as Product Editor. You don’t need to know what you want to do. This is your life, and you can make your own success.
I was never a kid who dreamed about becoming a nurse, astronaut or scientist. I didn’t have that dream job in mind; one week it was an actress and singer, and the next it was an artist living in Florence. But one thing that always stayed the same was that it was always me writing. If I was making music, I’d write lyrics. If I was doing drama at school, I’d be the one writing the script. If you’re one of those who doesn’t have that dream job in mind, then my advice to you would be to make the most out of your course at the University of Chichester. Enjoy and embrace your learning. You chose that course because you wanted to. The more you enjoy it, the more you’ll get from it. It’s okay to not know what you want just yet, because there will always be chance for you to make your own future.