Living Deputy Editor, Saskia Hume discusses why taking a year out after uni is one of the best decisions you can make
I can’t quite believe I’m saying it, but my time at Bristol has almost come to an end. In less than two months I will have handed in my dissertation and that’s it – no more lectures, no more seminars and (best of all), no more essays. As relieving as this is, it’s also the first time in my life that I’m uncertain of my future plans. At school I was always sure I’d go to university, even if it wasn’t in Bristol. But now there’s no certain path to follow.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I don’t really know what my post uni intentions are.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I don’t really know what my post uni intentions are. It’s a feeling that is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. It also elicits notably different reactions depending on whom I tell. My parents, for example, look somewhat concerned, brows furrowed as they ask ‘have you got any plans yet?’. My parents’ friends seem disapproving, commenting that their daughter went straight into an internship at the Times as a postgraduate. My own friends are entirely sympathetic, pleased that they’re not the only ones nervous for the end of their degree.
But personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having no fixed future plans. Of course, I have ideas about what I’d like to do one day (with a career in journalism being the ultimate aim), but how I’m going to get there is another matter. Sure, some people know they’re going straight into a grad scheme, an internship, or paid job and that’s great. But I think after three years of university and a near lifetime of education before that I could do with a bit of a break. Having not taken a gap year now’s the time to take a year out and do something new – definitely travelling, and perhaps teaching or working abroad.
Of course, I’m lucky enough to do a degree that lends itself to this. As an English graduate, you undoubtedly do not have the post uni pressures of somebody who does law or medicine, for example. There’s no being cattle-herded into a conversion course or placed in an office for the foreseeable future. Sure, if this were the case it would definitely save me a lot of stress, and probably make me a lot more money. But it certainly isn’t what I want to be doing for the next few years.
However, I certainly don’t believe I should be judged negatively for my choices – it’s not down to laziness, in fact quite the opposite. I want the opportunity to do something new, and gain experiences that will hopefully lend themselves to my future career. I also don’t want to rush into something I might later regret, so taking a year out will give me the time to decide what I truly want to do.
If you’re in the same boat as me, here’s a few simple guidelines that I’m trying my best to follow. First of all, don’t let the opinions of others persuade you. Undoubtedly, everyone around you has something to say about your plans, but what’s important is what you want to do. Secondly, don’t let it get you down or bog you down. The most important thing at the moment is to finish off your studies – then you can start thinking and planning. And last but not least, do something you know you’re going to enjoy. Opportunities like this don’t come around every day, so make the most of them before it’s too late.
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