Hi! I’m Lizzie and over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my job-hunting experience with you. The ups, the downs, and hopefully some helpful pointers in between. My journey hasn’t been an easy one but it hasn’t been impossible either. I overcome a lot of hurdles that naturally come with job hunting… and I bet you can too.
To give you a brief overview, I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2015 with a degree in French and Spanish. This was great, but I knew languages wouldn’t be the focus of my career.
At the beginning of my second year at uni, I’d started volunteering for student support service, Nightline. I wasn’t thinking about my career or CV, but I’d seen people close to me affected by mental illness, and I wanted to support people who were going through those challenges.
Volunteering became an important (and incredibly enriching) part of my life and from this point I knew that I wanted a job where I could make a difference. But, aspiring to ‘get a job in the charity sector’ is as vague as looking for sweets in a sweet shop. In short… I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.
I spent most of my final year of uni with my head down. As one deadline passed it was immediately on to the next and all of a sudden, I was walking out of my final exam with no plan for my next steps. Like many other students, I graduated and went back to my family home, kind of in denial that I was no longer a student and at a complete loss as far as any career plan was concerned. I knew I wanted to work in the charity sector, but doing what? I had no idea. So, I went back to working in marketing and business development for the family business.
This was not going to be my career in the long term. But, it gave me the time I needed to understand what I wanted to do and gave me some time to volunteer. It was only at the beginning of last year that I put two and two together and actually made four. I’d been reading about the Zero Waste movement (basically, lowering or eliminating your contribution to landfill) and Minimalism, then everything began to make sense. I’d been supporting Greenpeace for quite a few years and, after volunteering in a rural community in Nicaragua, I was particularly struck by how consumer-focused our lives are. I wanted to get into the charity sector and I wanted to work for an environmental charity that focused on creating a more sustainable planet. So, I knew it was time to take the plunge.
I started making applications in the summer and fully committed to shaping my career in the environmental sector when I moved to London in October in 2016 (with no job!). By this point, I’d already applied for jobs, heard nothing back, had an interview and been told that I’d not been successful… so I had a good idea that it wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d initially thought. Comfort zones are so named for a reason, and I was anything but comfortable with stepping out of mine. But from the very beginning, all I knew was; I was going to get the job that I wanted. No matter what.
Did I say that it was going to be brief? Okay, well, kind of brief. I think that the key things to draw from my story so far are that:
1. It’s okay to have no idea exactly what you want to do after graduating,
2. It’s normal not to go straight into your ‘perfect’ job and,
3. Yes, it’s perfectly normal to feel entirely uncomfortable with taking a risk.
But you’ve set yourself a goal for a reason – just sayin’.