Thursday, 16 April 2015

5 Things They Don't Tell You About Starting Work.

I left university almost two years ago now and let me tell you it hasn't quite gone the way I envisaged it would.

I don't think I'm alone in my thinking that once I graduated I would soon be moving out, I'd have a job that I loved, be earning enough money to go travelling/buy a few luxuries and be socialising with all the other grown ups.
Well here I am 22 months on working in a small office, living with my parents and I have only been away once in that time. My life is by no means bad and I want to reiterate the fact that I am VERY happy right now (the happiest I've been in a long time actually, woo me!) however the path has definitely diverted somewhat and that's what I want to show you here - that no matter what life ACTUALLY has planned for you it's still gonna be pretty awesome!

I might not be an employment guru having only recently delved into the depths of work and can't promise everyone will experience the same things BUT I'd like to share what little knowledge I do have and maybe prepare others for what might happen in the future. So if you feel like you want a bit of info read on!

#1 Education does not guarantee a job -

This might seem obvious to most but lets be honest you kind of expect to have an actual job doing something you planned and enjoy within a few months of searching right?
Nope, sadly this happens very rarely... it can happen though so definitely don't be disheartened, go for your dream job as soon as you can!
Unfortunately for the majority you will start applying for jobs only to find that education is not enough. As so many people have degrees these days companies look for something extra, someone they can see has more than just a theoretical understanding of the industry and who can be plonked into a new position and get stuck straight in!

Do not panic my dear friend though as there are solutions!

 . Experience is the key, to bump yourself ahead of other applicants make sure you get experience when you can, whether it be working part time whilst in education (always nice to earn a little extra cash too), volunteering or simply talking to people in the business, just getting your name known will help immeasurably. It's super important to actually be able to show you have not only an interest but a strong knowledge base in the job you want to do.

. Don't go to uni.

Yup I said it, let it sink in. I know that I went and I am glad I did to an extent but my future plans were and possibly still are to get into science and most of those jobs do require a degree. However a lot of jobs actually don't so although your school, college, friends, parents and dog (yup he's being a bit of an asshole) keep talking about university because it's just the done thing, it's not true for everyone.
No one ever talks to you about the other options but shock horror, there are some. A lot of people will actually find it more beneficial to just start working, there are 1000's of apprenticeships that lead to amazing jobs or it will get you on the ladder of working your way up.

So before you apply because you think it's "the next step" have a serious think about if it's right for you. If it's not then make other plans, but I urge everyone to do their research because it will save you a lot of time and lets face it money (uni ain't cheap yo).

So you have a degree or/and relevant experience but the next point could still be something you face.

#2 You might need to do some unexpected jobs first - 

Your dream job role might not be available just yet, you might not live close enough to it, you might find you need to work your way through a company to get it or it could be that you actually have no idea what that dream role actually is. Wherever you fall on this spectrum chances are your first full time job won't be the one you had in mind.

Finding a job is difficult, like really difficult. There are too few jobs and too much competition so my advice - don't be picky! I was lucky in that I didn't know what it was I wanted to do so was open to any opportunity and free to amble through all the jobsites and newspapers and take my pick (well sort of, obviously a lot of jobs have specific person specifications that I don't meet yet!)
If you apply for pretty much everything you could end up being pleasantly surprised when you're in a job that you love but didn't expect, the more applications you send off the more you increase the chance of getting a job.

A side note to this is if you apply for a lot and don't hear back, don't give up. When it comes to job hunting persistence and positivity is the only way to get through it, no one enjoys writing CVs and cover letter after cover letter but when you are working and earning you won't even remember how annoying it was!

#3 Starting wages won't necessarily be what you were hoping  - 

You're probably at an age where you are starting to gain an appreciation for money and just how much stuff can cost, but I can tell you now it's a completely different story when it's your money that you are working to earn.

A typical starting wage isn't a huge amount sadly, especially for those that have education but little physical experience. Companies will use your inexperience as an excuse to pay you less even if you are perfectly competent. Once you have proven your abilities it will increase so work hard and it will pay off.

The main point here though is to realise that you won't be able to live the life your parents or other older people do because you just won't earn enough. Some sites say that graduates will earn between £18,000-£24,000 but from what I've seen with the jobs that I'm able to get with the work expereince I have it's more like £12,000-£16,000 - which spread over a year doesn't go very far!

Just be prepared that some of your plans might have to wait a little while, but trust me you will get the eventually and it will be saweeeet.

One plan that I had that has been somewhat scuppered is my next point (nice segway, good job).

#4 You probably won't move out (and maybe shouldn't)

Much like going to uni, moving into your own place is just assumed, turns out it's really freaking expensive to do! Most people can't afford to do it straight away, as mentioned in the above point, first salaries don't always cover it - in fact in 2013 over 3.3 million adults in the UK aged between 20 and 34 were living with parents (yeah I know more stats, sorry).

Money isn't the only issue when it comes to getting your own place - you need people to live with as the more people you have in a house the less the rent will be.
The people you'll want to live with are likely to be friends but problem here is you're all looking for jobs and in some cases the only option you have is to move somewhere closer to where you'll be working. This means you and your proposed housemates are wanting to live in completely different areas and living together just isn't feesable. Eeesht who knew it got so complicated!

So if living with your parents is the case for you (as it is for me) do not be shocked or disheartened because a HUGE number of people are in the same boat. If you're lucky this won't even become a problem because a) you will find a lovely bunch of people wanting to live in the same area b) you can house share with strangers who become the lovely bunch of people wanting to live in the same area or c) you earn the big bucks so move out on your own and spend your time rolling around on your mattress made of £100 notes.

Some of these people that have the option to move still choose to stay at home, yes choose! There are so many reasons to take this path - if you have a good family relationship then why not hang around with them for a bit, if you live near your work moving straight away is unnecessary and it can lead to my final and most important reason to stay at home .......


Yeah it seems not paying anywhere near as much rent as having your own place (but it's nice to contribute a little something) and not paying for bills or food (whilst having most of your meals cooked and staying in your super cozy bedroom) is cheap!

If you make the most of this opportunity you can end up having A LOT of money and money means allowing yourself a few splurges, like a new camera (I definitely didn't do this) or an ipad (or this) or even a car (nope 100% not) which there is no way you could do if half your pay (you heard right about HALF) is going on rent and bills etc.

Or if you start saving crazy hard you could end up going travelling or even buying your own place instead of renting! See so many positives for living at home!

#5 Don't be afraid to change and try things

Through most of your childhood/teen years you will hear the question "What do you want to do when you are older?" and you're expected to give one, definitive answer and choose a single career that you will do for the rest of your life.
It won't surprise you to hear that between the ages of 14 (when you are supposed to start planning your career goals) and 21 (when you're likely to actually start working) you change. A lot. You're opinions, interests and values will change so drastically in this period of your life that your job dreams are also likely to change - that's okay and normal! Not only that but you might finally get the job and discover it's not for you.

The thing about all this is that you are still soooo young and it's not said often enough but you can chop and change as much as you like! I suggest trying to stick things out for a little while as companies like to see you don't just get bored and move on constantly but if you don't want to do it, you don't have to. Be sensible and make sure you have the ability to actually live before you go quitting, but you're going to spend the majority of your life at work and that life is way too short and important to spend it being unhappy.

If you've made it to the end I'm impressed, thank you for reading and sticking with me! What I really wanted and hope you take from this is your life might end up a little different to planned but different isn't necessarily worse, certainly isn't failure and you have time, so much time.



  1. So needed to read this this week - I've been so on the verge of nearly giving up on trying to get into publishing lately as it just feels so fruitless. But I guess I'll just keep plodding along :)

    1. I'm glad it could help in some way :) and definitely keep at it I know you will get there very soon x