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now what?

now what?

I’m officially a graduate! On July 13th, I graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a First Class Honours in International Relations and History, which blows my mind when I think back to Sixth Form where I was genuinely considering turning down my place. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with the pressure and the work load that studying there would entail and so I very nearly didn’t go. My academic life has taught me that we are very rarely good judges of our own ability. I’ve always had super low confidence in my own potential and I think that comes with always wanting to be a high achiever.

Before the honeymoon period of graduation is even over, the first question from everyone’s lips is ‘So, what’s next?’ And my response is perfected down to a T. ‘Oh, well, I like writing so probably something journalism related…but, I’m not really sure yet… I don’t have a big, set in stone plan’. Depending on the audience, the reaction is a mix of interested nods and further questioning, poorly disguised judgement, or even hints of jealously.

The first group, mostly family and close friends, or those not in the directly related academic sphere, are genuine and engaged with my vaguely focused (emphasis on vague) future plans. They find the prospect of journalism interesting, and take down the name of my website to have a scroll through when they’re home. They wish me well and they mean it.

Then there’s the second group. High-flying academic or business types who expect everyone to be churned out of university and straight into the city. They have an expected response in mind and my ‘oh, well, I’m not quite sure yet’ and  ‘I’m in no rush’ attitude is not it. These types want me to detail the internships I have lined up (probably un-paid) and the long hours I’ll be slaving away in an office in a financial or consulting company. LSE being the London School of Economics tends to lend itself to this thinking. I politely remind them that I’m from the social science side of the school, in a self-deprecating way, of course. I say ‘Oh no, I’m not clever enough for that, I’ll stick with my history’. They laugh and the conversation moves on. (When I say I’m going back into modelling for a while I can almost feel their toes curl. ‘Unimpressed’ doesn’t even cover it…)

And the last group, often people my age who have also just graduated, slipping straight from grad-gowns into office attire and joining the rest of London’s daily commuters into jobs in tall shiny buildings in the city. This is the most interesting group to me, and I don’t intend to sound patronising when I write this. But they very rarely sound enthusiastic when they detail to me the companies they’re joining, the 15+ hour days they’ll be putting in, and the future career options it will give them. I find it mind-boggling.

The last 6 months of university consisted of daily chit-chat regarding internship prospects and graduate schemes. In all honesty, I had to work so hard to get through exams that if I had been multi-tasking and looking for grad-schemes at the same time, I probably would have self-combusted. So maybe it’s just my weaknesses that have me set on a different path to the majority of those who I graduated with on July 13th.

Whilst it’s hard not to think I’m potentially wasting time or missing out on jam-packing my (non-existent) CV with amazing internships, it’s important to remember that it’s normal and very much O.K to be where we are in our lives, especially at this age. I know people in their 40s who still haven’t figured out where they want to be and what they want to do.

Wherever you are in life, or wherever you’re up to, it’s fine as long as you’re happy and able to get by. No amount of money, or promise of money, is worth sacrificing your happiness for. I would be miserable if I’d gone into a consulting or financial internship this summer. At the moment I can’t help but feel like I’m floating through life and need a kick up the backside, but if I had gone against my gut feeling, I’d have been drowning.

My one piece of advice for other students reading this would be: don’t jump head first into the first internship or grad-scheme you can find (be that during university or after) out of fear and pressure. If you want to focus purely on your degree or need some wind-down time after you graduate, it’s O.K. It’s normal and healthy and you’re not failing, you’re not lazy, and you’re not less successful than anyone else.

Stay focused, but stay sane.

Kirstie x

 

 

 



21 thoughts on “now what?”

  • This was a really motivational post! Graduating isn’t for another two years for me, but I do think you’re right: we should only do what we really want to do and not what others shove down our faces.
    From the perspective as a reader of your blog, I think you would be a really good journalist. Your writing is enjoyable to read and any paper/magazine/press agency/etc. would be lucky to have you.
    I also admire you for doing what you want to do! I wish I was as strong as you and able to do that.
    I honestly love your blog ❤

  • As someone who has no idea of what I want to do when I graduate, this was a great read. I do want to point out though, that your situation is quite a privileged one, you are lucky enough to be able to step back a little and think about what you really want to do. But we have to keep in mind that many people don’t really have a choice, they have to move from university to a job immediately, even if it isn’t a job they are thrilled about, because they need the money, and I think this is an aspect that’s a bit lacking in your post, as you make it sound like all the people in the category do it for the CV. Sometimes they just do it for the money, because they don’t have any other options.

    But great post nonetheless, and I hope you find your path soon, and that you enjoy yourself in the meantime!

  • loved this post!! I’m currently in a similar situation of what next and this post really helped to reassure me that its completely fine + normal to not have my whole life figured out already !!! Wish you all the best in whatever your future holds and no matter what you do, as long as you’re happy doing it, then you’ll be fine! Lots of love xx
    Ps: keep up the blog!!! It’s so interesting & has quickly become one of my favs! You’re doing great x

  • As someone who is currently so unsure on the university course I am studying, this post is exactly what I needed to see – enjoyment and hard work at this age is the most important but I have realised after reading that I do not need to stress about after uni until I graduate. Thankyou Kirstie! If possible, more university related posts would be amazing.

  • This is very motivational Kirstie! I have been constantly stressing about my GCSEs which I will be picking this year and starting the coursework next. Though reading this has now made me realise that I need to take it one step at a time and chill a bit, keep hard at work but be happy and to not stress about the future. When I go back to school I will just focus on my first term class work, once they are done I will then focus on revision and exams and then I will focus on choosing the right GCSEs for me. This blog has also told me that I should not rush into what I should pick but I shall focus on what I am good at personally and what I will be able to handle and not drown in. Thanks once again Kirstie xxx

  • You gave me that little boost I really needed for next year after reading this. Thank you Kirstie! Don’t ever be unsure about anything, Kirstie! You’re beautiful and so talented, I truly wish I was like you. Looking forward to your next post because I absolutely love reading your posts 🙂 Oh and btw: congratulations on your graduation 😉

    Love, Phae

  • I have never feel so identified with a post, I’m currently at uni and I can’t think of me doing things about my career in a future. Maybe I’m even realising that it isn’t what I like or that it wasn’t what I thought I would like to be. I’ve been questioning myself this whole year and reading this post helped me to figure out that it was o.k to feel that way and also I now feel confident to go out and do whatever I want to do and be who I want to be, but also I’m feeling of giving my career a second chance, and then I’ll figure out what to do with it.
    Hope you do well in whatever you’re going to do and don’t give a dam about what others want you to do. Be happy and free.
    Lots of love x

  • Congrats on graduating!! I think ive been following you for about a year and a half now… ish… so ive seen a fair bit! Im about to enter my second year of college and so i have to start applying for unis and writing personal statements and all that (which i have no idea how to do) and its terrifying because i dont know what i want to do with my life – though it does bring me comfort that people older than myself still dont know what theyre doing either, so thank you… i guess ?? Lots of love❤️Xx

  • I totally feel you about the idea that you’re floating through life. I’m currently 2 months into a 4 month summer after finishing my absolutelt exhausting second year of med school and I’ve probably had a long enough break and probably should’ve lined up some sort of work before I start up again but then I think about where I’ll be in a couple of years time, slaving away in the NHS (albeit voluntarily) for a good portion of my life wishing for a 4 month holiday lol
    I also totally get you about the non existent CV. Wanting to be a high achiever and the belief that I can’t focus on more than one thing in life if I want to be good at it has made me put so many of my passions on the back burner for far longer than was necessary. Especially going to a london uni and sitting in a lecture theatre full of people you know for a fact are very smart can make you feel like you have to prove your worth with grades and it’s a sucky feeling
    I’ve been following you since year 10 probably and it’s so weird to have grown up almost with you over the past few years and I honestly think you’re a wonderful person who has inadvertently acted like a big sister in a way. Congratulations with your graduation and good luck for whatever you choose to pursue – regardless of what it is, you can ace it.

    Much love xoxo

    PS I want ‘stay focused, but stay sane’ on a tshirt

  • Congratulations to you on graduating from university! That’s a massive step that I can’t wait to take myself in the future. Personally I’m about to start my 3rd year of university and what you covered in this post is basically all I can think about half the time. I’m persuing a major in mass media with a minor in creative writing. The traditional route would be journalism like you discussed but I’m so much more interested in creative writing. A mess though because I will need money flow coming in as I write if I persue being an author since it doesn’t just come from nowhere. So many decisions and it’s frustrating.

    – Elizabeth 💜

  • I’m really happy for you on the graduation and that you have this time to explore and find something that’s truly right for you…but it’s rather narrow minded to suggest that everyone has that luxury. Many people don’t have parents or significant others or modeling careers that allow them to take that time. Which is not to say that those are things you’re relying on, but clearly you don’t have the urgency of someone who needs to find a job or internship asap after uni. To say this to people: “don’t jump head first into the first internship or grad-scheme you can find (be that during university or after) out of fear and pressure” ignores the fact that the “pressure” people face is in fact to get by and is to sustain themselves. I took a consulting job so I could pay rent and send money to my family :/

    • Hi love. I appreciate why you think this comment sounded narrow minded and I want to tell you why it wasn’t/isn’t. I may have not explained myself well enough, but I’m talking about the situation I, myself, have come out of after studying at LSE. It’s a very private school university and an institution that a lot of people attend purely for the path it will set you on career wise. A lot of the people I’m talking about have money, and come from money, or they just really do see these paths as the only way to appear successful in life. Unlike you they are jumping into internships and so on as that’s what they’re expected to do or because it’s what they see as a mark of success, not because it’s what they genuinely want to do or need to do. That is why I specified about taking your time as long as you’re happy and can still get by financially. I specified that aspect for the exact reason to not look like I was overlooking financial situations.

      I’m well aware not everyone has the luxury, but I was talking about a different group of people. I hope that makes sense? I apologise if I didn’t specify the type of people I was talking about well enough as I can see why, if I hadn’t, you would have felt like I was overlooking the financial pressure some have on them!

      Feel free to still disagree and reply and we can chat it out haha x

      Kirstie XX

  • Hey Kirstie,

    First of all I would really like to thank you from the bottom my heart for writing this post. I am in a similar situation as I’ll be graduating next year and it’s all so crazy to me that we’re literally just constantly being taught To have a solid plan and that is what we are going to be doing for the rest of our lives. To me I feel that life is so uncertain and everyday is a new day to discover something about yourself that you never knew you could do be it a new skill and maybe that in turn could lead into something you’re passionate about and want to continue pursuing it as a career.

    Coming from a background studying something related to the media industry, i’ve been shamed by a lot of people who look down upon it because it’s hard to make a career out of it.

    This post really opened my eyes to realise that I should really be focusing on doing what makes me the happiest.

    Thank you for a reminder like this as it really helps me to take it step by step.

    I appreciate you so much and please continue writing more. ❤❤

  • First of all: congratulations on graduating! Over the past years I’ve seen how hard you’ve worked to get where you’re now and you deserve this so much, I’m really proud of you!
    And as someone who just finished the apprenticeship and is a state-approved nursery school teacher now I know how you feel. Over the past months I came to the decision that I don’t wanna continue in my job for now even tho I had a safe job offer. It was a long way for me to decide that it’s finally time (after being in school for such a long time) to do what’s best for me and not to do what the whole world thinks I should do. And it was an even longer way to get the courage to tell my family (and close friends) that I don’t wanna waste my time anymore and that I quit a safe future for a future I always dreamed of. It was hard for my family to understand me because they’ve grown up in a different way, that you do an apprenticeship and continue in your job for the rest of your life. But they made sure that I’ll always have their support and now I’ll move to another city with my friends in October and do jobs to earn money so I can do the things I love the most: travel, go to concerts, be free and just live!
    So what I’m trying to say: I’m really proud of you and so are your loved ones around you! It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks as long as you’re happy and for sure your family and friends will never judge you for what’s best for you – and the other really people don’t matter! You will be great at whatever you decide to do next – and I’m here watching and supporting you no matter what. Thank you once again for an amazing blog post and for reminding me that I’m not alone with the things I’m currently going through and that it was the right decision to go my very own way – even tho I don’t know what comes next!
    You are amazing, thank you x

  • If everything goes right I will be graduating in two years, I’m also an international relations student and reading your personal experience was really good for me!
    When I graduate I’d love to become a journalist and in a world where people constantly tell me that I’m not going to accomplish anything you were a breath of fresh air! I hope that I’ll be able to follow your advices and I wish you all the best, thank you for reminding me that I’m not the only one going through certain things.
    I appreciate you very much ❤️

  • I finished uni over a year ago and I’m working full time in the shop that I worked in on weekends during my third year. It’s not where I want to be but a job is a job and it’s giving me the income I need to be able to look for other things. I still don’t know what kind of career I’m looking for (which makes the search 1000x harder) but as you said, there are 40 year olds who still don’t know what they want to do. I find it difficult to deal with sometimes because of the constant pressure and not having a plan stresses me out, but then I remember that I’m still in my early 20s and there are a lot of people who are in the same position as me. The best thing to do is own the situation you’re in and don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s 🙂 Good luck and congrats on graduating! X

  • Hi, Kirstie!

    I have identified a lot with your post, although I still have a year and a half to graduate but I have many doubts about my future after completing university. I feel that there is a lot of pressure from society, teachers and even family as to what to do after graduating, everyone seems to have an opinion of what it would be right to do without taking into account our own thinking about the future .
    I believe that all this pressure causes us to have a lot of anxiety and stress, which makes it much more difficult to find something that really does us good.
    It saddens me a lot to see people accepting any type of internship just to fulfill a formality without taking into account what they really want and just following the flow of life. I know a lot of people have no choices, but regardless of whether people can give themselves the chance to choose what they want to do now, I think having a moment of reflection and researching on what they like is one way to try to find yourself.
    Reading this post and the commentes was very relieving because now, I know I’m not alone! Thank you for always writing so well!

    Ps: Congratulations on graduating !, I’ve seen how hard you’ve worked, you deserve a lot of success in the career you choose! Good luck with your discoveries! Lots of love❤️

    Bruna x

  • Hi Kirstie
    I feel the same as you but not in the after university way but the after A-Level way. I’ve just finished my AS level and now all anyone talks about is am I going to University, getting an apprenticeship or taking a gap year even though I still have my actual A-Levels to take. Talking with certain people about gap years is hard as they look down on them and think that’s it’s better if I go straight into university or an apprenticeship. I know that I want to go to university and I know what course I want to do but when talking to tutors they always talk to me about how universities that I might want to go to have a high pass rate and want to know if I think I can reach it. Which in all honesty makes me feel really stressed about not being able to get into university and insecure that I’m not as smart as my friends. My friends, my mum and my dad help me a lot as they encourage me to make my own decision but give advice as to what they think aswell. The idea of University actually scares me as the idea of not being able to get the grades I need which doesn’t allow me to get on to a primary school teaching course (which has been my dream job since I was little) makes me feel worried that I’ll disappoint my family and friends.

    I know that this has nothing really to do with your post about after university but I felt that I just needed to tell somebody before I become to stressed about the whole idea.

    Thank you
    Yasmin ❤️

    Also congratulations on graduating 🎓

  • Hi Kirstie
    So I saw that u graduated from lse (congratulations btw) I’m at the point where I have to start looking at universities and courses that I want to do and I was thinking about International relations. I wnat to do it either at Lse or Queens Mary (not really thinking about moving out of London lol) but if u know anything about this course I’d love some advice from you!! I just want to know what the course is like because I’m just so confused right now 😳 Also if I have any more questions about this I would like to talk about it more with u how could I ask u?
    Thank you❤️❤️
    Zaynab

  • Hi, Kirstie aka my queen. I’m a bit late at reading your blog but I just wanna say how proud I am of you. It feels like I witnessed you through all of these (bec I follow you on Snapchat and I’ve seen those distressed snaps and such lolz). But technically, we’re actually batchmates as I’ve also finished my degree (in Accountancy) this year, last April to be exact. I think we share the same thoughts on what’s the next big thing that would happen to our lives now that we’ve got a degree haha. But I know we’ll both nail it. Love you lots from the Philippines 💜

  • So glad to hear this from someone else! I made that mistake of jumping into first full time role (in the wrong field as well). Regrets left, right and centre! 100% agree with you- it’s really not worth it if you aren’t happy with it.

    Congratulations on graduating and wishing you all the best!

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