After setting up a dog boarding business summer 2016 I came back to university in Glasgow feeling weird.
All through my A-levels and university I’d told myself I was going to become a teacher, I had this clear career path. It seemed simple amidst the chaos other graduate job seekers were experiencing. I’d get to defer looking for a job a little longer whilst I did my teaching qualification and I knew that teachers were in hot demand.
I felt comfortable knowing I wasn’t going to struggle looking for a job…Maybe that was ignorant of me.
I changed my mind about teaching and made the brave decision to look for a graduate job in Marketing. Searching for a graduate job is tough. I quickly came to the realisation that there were a heck of a lot of people who wanted a job in Marketing. People who had done Marketing degrees, people who had done internships at big companies, just so many people.
It was the exact thing I’d feared all along and what had partly steered me in the direction of teaching in the first place. I was terrified of being another graduate horror story. I didn’t want my degree to go to waste. I didn’t want to leave my boyfriend who had already gotten a job in Edinburgh and go back to Staffordshire with my Labradoodle in tow.
I applied to hundreds of jobs. I’m not even exaggerating, hundreds! I applied to everything. Sure I started out optimistic applying to Marketing specifically but after rejection after rejection my confidence dwindled. I went from wanting a digital marketing graduate job to anything with graduate in the title.
Graduate jobs have a lot of hoops to jump through. There’s online tests, phone interviews, Skype interviews, trial days and assessment centers. This is on top of a long application form that can take hours to fill out. It’s exhausting!
I was in my final year of university whilst doing this too which was stressful enough. I’ve been rejected at every stage you could be rejected at. ‘Unfortunately’ fast became my least favourite word in the English language because every rejection email/ phone call started with it. It was hard to stay optimistic and not take it personally.
There were days when I’d have breakdowns and cry about it and others where I was determined and hopeful. The whole searching time was a complete rollercoaster of emotions.
I’ve flew to the other end of the UK and spent £250 (which wasn’t reimbursed) to be turned away from an assessment day after 15 minutes because I failed the first test. I’ve travelled to different counties to face a room of 50 people all fighting for the same job. I got through to an assessment center that had 9,000 applicants, they took only the top 2% who passed the online maths tests, whittled it down further by looking at application forms and got wait-listed.
I’ve been ignored, criticised and judge none stop since September. I’ve been rejected from jobs that I thought weren’t worth my time. I’ve spent hours filling out forms for companies to ignore my existence.
I’m not alone, many of my friends are panicking and upset. We’ve all worked so hard for our degrees and gotten in loads of debt and this is what we’re now faced with.
I’ve finally been offered a graduate job but there is a story within that. I was sat on the bus on the way to that company and I answered my phone to a rejection call from a job I didn’t even want. I was thinking “great that’s set the tone for the rest of the day!” The company I was going to looked so hipster and cool, I felt really awkward in a full on suit. Other applicants had shown up with green hair, cut out tops and cropped trousers. It looked like one of those edgy startups filled with bright young people you aspire to be like. Everyone kept gushing about how cool it would be to work there, which made me nervous.
The first task at the assessment centre was a maths test; in person, no cheat sheet to go off, no help from anyone. Maths has never been my forte. I was over the moon to finish it at high school and it’s kept coming back to bite me ever since. I even ended up doing calculus at university (don’t ask)! I was convinced I’d failed, it was so much harder than I expected. I was ready to grab my bag and just go. One of the applicants had studied Engineering at Edinburgh so I knew there was no hope for me. I stayed out of awkwardness.
I had to do a presentation in front of all the applicants which I was feeling insecure about. I’d only had the evening before to pull it together when I was exhausted. I just felt like everyone was better than me. I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d passed the assessment center and they wanted me back for another interview! After that I didn’t hear from them for a month.
I was confused because I thought the interview went well. I left it a while to contact them again and it turned out getting back to me had just been lost in translation. I was told there would be a job for me and I was officially offered it yesterday evening! (Update) I also got offered a Commercial Graduate role for Royal Mail in London a month later.
I’m so incredibly lucky to have been offered two jobs. I know that and I don’t take it for granted at all. I didn’t think it was going to happen for me.
I’d convinced myself all the stress had been for nothing and I was going back home. To get offered a job in the exact position I’d hoped out for in the beginning has validated my choice to be brave and go for what I wanted.
If anyone is reading this and is finding themselves applying for jobs they don’t really want please don’t give up. By all means if you just need something for now that’s cool but don’t give up on that job you really want. You might have to brush up your CV, you might have to have many more rejections but it will all seem worth it in the end.