“What are you doing once you finish uni?”
The sentence every undrgrad dreads. The kind of sentence that makes you want to reply “I don’t fucking know what I’m doing, Carol, what are you planning to do about your barely-concealed functional alcoholism?”
Maybe it’s easier if you do a subject that has a clear job attached to it, like engineering or accountancy. English (and probably most other humanities subjects too) feels like the kind of degree you can do everything and nothing with. The kind of degree that opens so many doors that you become a specialist in… nothing. I learnt so many things on my course that I am glad to know, but will never ever use. That’s the blessing and the curse of English Lit, I feel – you enrich your mind in so many ways, but then all those worlds and all that knowledge just… stays there. Maybe that’s why so many English students become teachers – because they can pass that knowledge on.
When I finished uni, I had so many other things on my mind that I really didn’t give my career much thought. I half-heartedly browsed a few job websites, knowing that I needed to find something that I could really enjoy in order to make the time I would be spending there worth it, and by some miracle, I found one!
Currently I’m working for my local hospital trust, which happens to be one of the best in the UK (bragging about this fact is part of my job, but I am also very proud and happy to be a part of it). I help run the social media channels for the recruitment side of the hospital, which means every day I’m doing something different. Last week, I took photos of a team of paediatric nurses who made one of their patients’ beds into a race car and transformed his hospital bay into a homemade car wash – one of his obsessions, apparently! This week, I helped give a talk about social media usage to a team of theatre workers – from inside an operating theatre.
I’m incredibly lucky that I’ve found something that really captures my interest. I’m always doing something I like, which I know is incredibly rare. I love working at the hospital because I’m completely fascinated by all the interesting things that go on around the place – from the groundbreaking cancer research to the hawks that live onsite to keep away pigeons.
Another thing about my job is that it’s actually an apprenticeship, so sometime soon I’m going to be spending time away from my desk and completing a digital marketing qualification which will hopefully help me be better at the job I’m doing and also give me some valuable skills for anything I want to do in the future. All in all, I’m so pleased that this is where I have managed to end up!
Until last month, I had never had an office job before. I’d never even seen the inside of one first hand, I don’t think. All my working life prior had been spent in the hospitality industry, working behind bars, coffee machines and ovens as I bounced between waitress, barmaid, barista and chef. As I kicked off my shoes and put down my handbag on that first Friday evening after my week at work, my brain was doing celebratory backflips as I realised that I will hopefully never have to have a service job again.
That might be the most privileged and selfish thought you’ll hear from me in a while, but it’s really how I feel. I know loads of people who hate their office jobs and I think it’s okay that I’m enthusiastic about mine!
I’ve definitely noticed some weird things, like the strange office jargon that’s just the norm – why do they use the term ‘actioned’ when they just mean ‘done’? Also, who invented the trend of having to bring in cake when it’s your birthday?! And how many times can people have an entire conversation centred around the air con?
The first month in my grad job has been so interesting and exciting. I feel like I’m learning new things every day and I’m so looking forward to the many months to follow!