When one door closes the right one will always open – even if it means taking a step back
A year ago I was working in London at an international market-leading tech company as part of their events team. We were a small but very close-knit team. We loved our jobs, and the incredible things we got to do each day, as well as being genuinely great friends with so many people that we worked with. The four months I worked there were some of the absolute best in my life and I genuinely miss that place every day. Unfortunately, I was there on a fixed-term contract which ended in the middle of February.
Now, as much as many of us might like to forget this last year, I saw the opportunity to try something new – to have a go at my back-up plan you might say. For years I had been working towards a career in the events industry (even my undergraduate degree was in Events Management) but due to COVID-19 the live events industry was killed and all companies hiring halted. I found it impossible to find a job in my field. I even tried to look for jobs in related fields such as marketing, public relations, social media, but nothing. No one was hiring. I spent February to September 2020 living with my mum sunning ourselves in the garden while looking for things to do with our lives (board games were our salvation – along with cocktails). One day, I was texting my life-long best friend who is student here at the University of Surrey. She was telling me how she wasn’t sure she wanted to go into the industry she was studying for, now that she had done her placement year. This is what made me realise that I could also perhaps retrain in a new field by going back to University, and the University of Surrey seemed like the perfect place to me.
Going to Surrey was almost poetic to myself and my bestie. When we were thirteen we actually came here together and took part in an inter-school science competition and came second. We both knew that we wanted to go to Surrey when we grew up, but whilst she did, I wasn’t going to get the grades at A-Level so I diverted my path to the University of Derby.
I did some research into what the Creative Writing course entails, what I could learn, how I would fund it because any savings that I had had were all gone during my unemployment phase of 2020. It seemed entirely achievable with a bit of hard graft which I was not afraid of, so I wrote my 5,000 word portfolio, my personal statement and applied. Within 24 hours I received an email offering me a place on the course. I couldn’t believe it. I had no experience, no prior training, and absolutely nothing published.
Of course, returning to university can seem like a step back, but here is my advice to students considering taking a masters: do not rule anything out. I did my undergraduate in Events Management, but my Masters in Creative Writing. I had never planned on doing a Masters, but when the events industry suffered a fatal blow due to COVID-19 there were no jobs going. I used this as an opportunity to explore my other career goal of being a journalist.
Don’t constrain yourself to just doing a Masters in the same area as your undergraduate. Use the opportunity to develop another skill which could ultimately make you more employable. Don’t be afraid to start over again. This time you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience.
I would also suggest that you don’t rush into it. Take your time to think about whether you are up for the challenge of more reading, research, and self-motivation. Postgraduate study can, however, increase your career options and show you what you are capable of. Just remember that when one door closes another one is definitely going to open – it just might not be the one you think.
Once I was here, I quickly removed any inklings of doubt or regret because, despite going through imposter syndrome initially, I had earned my place here. I have met some of the best people here at Surrey who I know I will be extremely close friends with for a long-time to come. Despite COVID continuing to throw curve balls left, right, and centre, I know that coming here was the best thing for me at this time.
I used to constantly worry about the next part of my life without realising that I’m right in the middle of what I used to look forward to. I used to dream of going to University, but once I was there I immediately changed that dream to getting a job when I graduated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have dreams and goals, and it’s great that they are constantly shifting, but just don’t let uncertainty of the future make you miss out on the joy of the present.