Things I Wish I’d Known Before Leaving University with an Art’s Degree

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So, you were eighteen, you were passionate, you were excited, you wanted to go against everything your teachers/parent’s wanted you to do and you went to study the creative arts. You’ve invested minimum three years, and thousands of pounds, and it has all culminated in one final show / production / piece that you’ve created and you have never been prouder of yourself, or felt more accomplished.

But then, graduation comes and goes, and suddenly your finding yourself looking into the black hole of the now nearly non-existent Ideastap Jobs Board and wondering what went wrong in your life.

For those of you who are just leaving university and getting ready to enter the big wide world – I’m not trying to put you off. And those considering going to university to do it – trust me it will be a brilliant decision, and you’ll have the best time of your life whilst you’re studying.

 Jobs

When you leave, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be so, so hard. You are going to doubt every decision you’ve ever made, you may be filled with so much anxiety at times you no longer want to leave your house. You will put in endless hours on bars, and in shops, and feel like your life is going no where, but always remember that as long as you keep working, going to class, attending other people’s shows, and trying really hard to do what you want to do,  then everything will work out. And I’m not guaranteeing you’ll get the job of your dreams, and live your life as an actor or artist forever because you might not. But you will have tried, and it will be worth it.

You might apply for 100 jobs before you get an interview. You might get the first one you apply for. But you all will eventually get an interview, and you will eventually get a job. No one has ever been eternally jobless for no reason. It will happen for you.

Homes

You might move in with your parents to save on rent and you will sacrifice a lot of the independence you’ve been enjoying throughout university. But, if it means you can put in a few more hours a week chasing your dream rather than serving someone’s drinks then it might just be worth it.

It also might not be worth it depending on what kind of person you are – but I will tell you from experience it is nearly impossible to hold down a full-time job, and continue to practice, or better yet work, in the field you actually want to be in. Also, if you want to life in London then paying rent will eat all of your probably measly wages, and you’ll have to live of baked beans and fish fingers again. (This bit is actually quite a lot like being at uni in reflection.)

Motivation

It is this hard for everyone, not just for you. At the end of the day, it is the people who strive the longest who are likely to have more success. It’s the people with the most motivation, and often the most to lose who will work harder. Hard work tends to lead to greater achievement.

Likewise if you realise early on that the artist lifestyle isn’t actually for you. That’s fine too. Find something else your interested in, volunteer, intern, change fields completely if you want to.

Friends

You will no longer see your friends everyday. In fact, you may go months in between meet-ups. But when you do see them, it won’t be any different. Those who you don’t see anymore, or who when you meet-up with them you no longer have much in common. It’s OK to let them go. It will happen naturally, but don’t feel guilty or sad. You’ll meet plenty more people, and make new friends, and have a fabulous time.

Life

Essentially the point I’m getting at is that life is hard. After uni, what happens is life. When your in education, there is always something that’s certain, regardless of what happens in your personal or family life, your education has a structure, there is always a next step and there is also someone to guide you through it. In life, suddenly nothing is certain. It’s a hard adjustment. But it does get easier. Just keep trying, and live life how you want to. Be a nice person, help people, do small things to help make the world a little bit better. Or big things if you can and want to. At the end of the day, your career doesn’t have to define you. The way you choose to live your life as a person is just as important.

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7 thoughts on “Things I Wish I’d Known Before Leaving University with an Art’s Degree

  1. These are such good points! Transitioning to working life was so much more of a shock than I expected. I guess I always saw it as the end goal, when everything would finally work itself out and I would start my ‘real life’, but for the first 6 months or so (and even sometimes now) I just felt completely lost and confused! And that was after having worked in my dream job since graduation. I think the biggest point to take away from this post is to not worry and enjoy it! 🙂 xx

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  2. Yes, I think everyone finds it hard, it’s just the adjustment into real life, that I don’t think anything prepares you for. But yes, we all need to worry less, and get on with enjoying our lives I think! Thank you for your thoughtful comment lovely! 🙂

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  3. when I was about to graduate a few years ago, I realized that nothing in my life would be as predictable as being in school ever again. But now, I actually enjoy it because I can plan things out and be able to make things happen because I’m earning more money and I have more freedom as it seems.

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  4. SO true. The creative industry isn’t impossible there’s just not a lot going there at the moment, the big roles require ‘experience’ and that’s disheartening for graduates as much as anybody in general. I definitely say gain volunteering experience too, it really opens up your CV and thoughts about your general career 🙂 this is a great post mrs!

    Em xx

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    1. Yes volunteering is so important, I have volunteered regularly since I was in school and I’ve made so many contacts, and got so much experience from it!

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