Changing MENtality

What Next? A Conversation on Graduation

November 19, 2020 Season 1 Episode 5
Changing MENtality
What Next? A Conversation on Graduation
Show Notes Transcript

Graduating in 2020 brought about Zoom ceremonies, mixed feelings and a little bit of disorientation.
In this episode, Sam, George D and Kevin talk about coming to terms with the end of your University journey, finding support in your peers, and the tedious business of ‘planning’ your future with a degree in hand.
They also draw from experience and talk about their perspectives of success and failure, as well as Imposter Syndrome.

Check out our social media links over at:
https://changingmentality.buzzsprout.com/
https://linktr.ee/changingmentalitypodcast

If you were distressed by any of the content in this episode or feel you need extra support, please find  some further resources below:

  • Student Space–Online, one-stop shop’ for students in England and Wales who want to find help for their mental health or well-being.
  • Student Minds website- Information about different support services available, including how to find them and what to expect when using them for the first time.
  • Your GP Service- can refer to specialist support and services.
  • University Student Support Services e.g. counselling, mental health advisers, student advice centre, students’ union.
  • Samaritans-phone 116 123, email [email protected]
  • HOPELine UK-phone 0800 068 41 41: confidential service specifically for young people (under 35). They can offer crisis support for someone who is experiencing thoughts or feelings of suicide, as well as providing information and advice for those concerned about someone else.
  • Papyrus: email [email protected]
  • Students Against Depression- The Students Against Depression website has lots of information about tackling depression and low mood, including self -help resources and workbooks for students to work through to start taking steps towards tackling low mood.
  • NHS 111-Non-emergency line run by the NHS.
  • 999-for an emergency situation.
Sam:

Hi there, and welcome to the changing mentality podcast. On this episode, we're going to talk about what's next. Today on the podcast, we have Kevin, an environmental management and sustainability student at the University of Leeds. George, recent graduate at the University of Manchester in human geography. And me, Sam, a recent graduate of the University of Manchester as well, in drama and screen studies. A reminder to you that we are students, we're not mental health or medical professionals. So we cannot give you advice. But we hope that this series is still useful to you and your mental health. This episode was recorded back in September. We hope you enjoy. Right then you're up, Kevin.

Kevin:

Okay. I guess when you think of uni, and then there are definitely a lot of options you can take. So you can go into a Master's, you can go into a placement you can take a year off. When I say unis ending, what do you guys think in terms of the next step?

Sam:

I personally don't immediately think of what's next I kind of think of like ah, if you'll pardon the phrase, it's the end of an era, you know. I mean, people say going to uni is like the first day of the rest of your life. And you know, and it's it's very, like transformative phase. So I kind of think about like, what I've had rather than what's to come. Yeah, I'm

George:

in the same boat. It's something that I haven't had, like a gap. I didn't have a gap year when I went to university. So technically only Ivy you could say I've been in education for over a decade, since school reception year one all the way through to graduating, there's not been a year where September hasn't been the start of something in terms of secondary school, sixth form university. So like, yeah, like some psycho that the end of an era, I've seen it more of like a reflective period and be like, what it's come from this period of being educated my life, and it's less about what's next. So come find

Kevin:

me as well, like I've been, I didn't take any gap years. So I've been in education, like studying as a student for a while now. And at least the way I see it, ending University, I'd quite like to take not necessarily a gap year, but maybe a placement year just so there's like a change of scenery. Because I'm sure I don't know how you guys feel. But I know a lot of people do feel when they're studying that. They just want to, obviously it depends on what field you are, but they just want to go out and apply what they studied. And they kind of want to, like get into the get into actually doing the work. Like for me studying stuff around the environment, I definitely want to finish studying and go out and work and like change how things are going with regards to the environment. So do you guys feel the same way within your degrees

Sam:

when when I kind of got over the initial Panic of Oh my god, like, I have to like go out into the real world soon. I started to think like that I kind of want a bit of a break from doing all the like arts like career slog and like all the networking, because I'm sure you've heard like careers and the arts are all about who you know, being in the right place at the right time. And so that requires like a lot of effort. And you don't you don't need a degree for most of the kind of jobs that I was looking at. So like, it's not like a I don't have any like guarantees just because I studied drama and film in uni. So like because of that and because I've been like doing stuff throughout my degree like alongside studying to try and build on my CV, get some experience, build contracts, etc. I kind of decided that I wanted like a bit of a break. So I was thinking I would get like a get like a job with like flexible hours, like in retail or something, just to have a bit of time where I can like, meet some new people chill out a bit and party a bit more. And then you know, I gradually alongside that I could get some more work experience, rather than like going in hard like trying to get an artist job or nothing else from the get go. But that was all pre COVID so it's all up in the air now. But that was my plan, essentially to have a kind of break.

George:

Did you like see an end to that breaks down or did you like is this like a finite time? Or have you just don't take it how it comes with that kind of decision making.

Sam:

I kind of thought like, it will be like a year or less. I feel like I would go a bit crazy. By the time it got to be in, like a year, but yeah, but maybe maybe before then, but I didn't, I didn't say like, I'm gonna do this thing for this long because I'm not I'm not that strict of a planner.

George:

I see. Yeah, I think that it is an interesting question, Kevin, because like, with, I think it's obviously like degrees specific as well. But I found like with what a lot of the things I was studying, and all the topics like whether it's in doing human geography is like postcolonialism, kind of structural racism, spatial race, like all this kind of these current trends and discussions and debates, like I've gotten to the point where I'm educated in it, I want to go in, like, do something about it going, Yeah, go and get involved with that. But as Sam has mentioned, that kind of the current climate, jobs, and obviously, what it means to be a graduate now is you need much more, I've come to find much more than just the degree to your portfolio, and there's the whole, you can't go straightaway into. I don't know, NGOs. And I mean, you can but it's a lot harder to go take my problems I found with the biggest issues in the world and go straight into it.

Sam:

Yeah, it's okay to like to take a minute and say, like, I'm not going to put pressure on myself to like, have this type of job by this day. Because life isn't so straightforward. And, you know, like I was, I want to know, resume yesterday, and someone said something along the lines of like, dead ends are rarely dead ends, they are more often, like a new pathway opening up, you know, because you never know, like, who you're going to meet when you go into, like a job that is totally like, unrelated to what you've been studying. And a lot of the times like, you hear about, like employers, they want you to have experience from something that is unrelated to their, to like their like field, you know, you've got a bit more like wider knowledge that is helpful.

Kevin:

I like that perspective that at least you have an ad because in the past, from what I've seen, it's like, and we've talked about this, like men are expected to have it like sorted what people in general, but being the man and being like, expect it to be like breadwinner, you know, but more often than not, it's usually like, life's definitely gonna throw curveballs at you. And it's about being able to adapt to that, which I think takes a lot of like reflection, and like just being comfortable with being uncomfortable, or being comfortable with uncertainty. And when's the best time to be in uncertainty than the current situation over and over and stuff. So yeah, quite like that you brought up your own experience being more, I guess, relaxed, when it comes to what your next step is going to be? And how you view what next step you're going to take.

Sam:

Yeah, and I mean, like, it's worth saying, though, like, I'm not relaxed about it. You know, like, obviously, it's not that straightforward. But if you forced me to say like, yes or no, I would say no, I'm not relaxed. But I'm better than I was, you know, six months ago, when, maybe a little bit longer, when I was still having my, like, panic about, you know, finishing uni, because I was thinking like, Oh, my God, like, there's all this stuff I haven't done. so little time. I was like, right, I'm gonna go out every weekend, and, you know, do this on the other. And yeah, and like careers was was one aspect of that. But it was also like, meeting people. And it was like, I guess unit sold is like a place we can like, try out new things. And I felt, I felt like I haven't tried out enough stuff. You know, I haven't like pushed myself to like, be brave, and sing in front of a crowd, or something like that. But you know, like, I'm getting a little bit more calm, a little bit more content in my current situation than I was. And maybe I have the pandemic, think about that. Or maybe I'm better at, you know, self improvement. But I don't know. Yeah,

George:

I found that funny. It could be like, it can be a time of a lot of conflict with lots of things. Like, you've got to start thinking about careers, but you haven't, like you're studying, you're doing full time education, like how can you start thinking about, like the school year, your degree, you have to start thinking about employment, three months down the line, it's like, sometimes I just go Just give me like, give me a break. I'll worry about that later. And I have come to really like appreciate just leaving it until after I graduated. I mean, other people got on to it. And we're a lot more prepared and planned for things. But that doesn't mean that you could be prepared and planned later down the line with that kind of stuff. So I think is like, yeah, it can be conflicting with like universities, not just about the career and the the pathway afterwards is that final year I think is quite critical thinking and affects people very differently.

Sam:

Yeah, I did something similar like at some point in third year, I kind of made the decision that Like, I was gonna, like, chill out with all the jobs stuff and the career and like what's gonna happen for me, and I would just kind of focus on my grades. Because, you know, third year is intense in probably most well, final year, I should say, in most subjects the last year is very intense, partly because it counts more than anything else. So you know, it might be okay for you to just like, put a pause on it, and then put pause on like other things, and just really, like focus on one thing for a time.

George:

Yeah, it's like, I think that's like, really important. And especially for like this final year's cohort with COVID going on, I found as well, like, you Sam like there's a point nice, I think I was like, towards Christmas time is like, right, this is not my stress levels are going through the roof. Right now. I've got exams, thinking about careers, all that sort of stuff. And like with the COVID stuff, I found, I get a bit more stability from focusing on things I can control. And I think if you are a final year student, the thing you can control, obviously, the effects on your exams and your research is something but you can have more say on that than I think other things in final yet.

Kevin:

There are definitely things that you can't control, that it takes a bit of reassuring yourself, most importantly, that you can't control it because it's out of your hands. So I quite understand what you mean by that. What do you think so

Sam:

I keep thinking back to when all this stuff kind of like hit me, which was in probably like, November time last year, because I was I was doing a module on theatre and prisons. And I loved it. And, and there was a part of me that was like, Yes, this is something I can totally see myself doing. Like, as a career. I love it. But then there was a part of me that was like, What if I'm not good enough, you know, like, I can try as hard as I want. But, you know, there's, there's 18 other people in this class, who, who probably want to go into this field as well. And, and it's daft. You know, and you and you hear all the time, like, Don't compare yourself. But like, it's easier said than done, you know, and that, and that's something you've got all that really work to overcome, you know, and like, you can say, like, there's no, there's no element of like control available there. Sometimes you just gotta kind of get used to the, the unpredictability of it, and and you've got to put like faith in your own ability.

Kevin:

I'm glad you brought up. Like, those kinds of feelings, because it sounds a bit like imposter syndrome. Yeah. Right. And so what we need to realise is that a lot of the time, almost everyone's feeling the same way. Right? A lot of people do feel uncertain within themselves. And I think when it comes to leaving University, having like a support system is quite important, especially if that support system includes your other classmates and stuff, who probably do understand what you're going through. What do you guys think about like having that kind of support network when it comes to graduation and leaving University before you transition into, say, finding your placement or whatever your next step is?

Sam:

You raise a really good point there. I think yes, like, essential to not not just to have a support group, but to have a support group that has had a similar experience to you, you know, where you can kind of understand each other, and like really empathise with each other because you've had shared experiences. And I think it's important to kind of like, share the highs and the lows with your support group, so that no one feels like, oh, how come they've got a job and I still can't get one, you know, because, you know, we always see like, someone's Facebook's status, saying, like, Oh, I'm gonna start work here soon. But what you don't see is the like, hours and hours of time they spent like job hunting, like day in and day out. But you know, if you can get into the habit of like talking to your peers about that, then that's, that's certainly going to help. I think,

George:

with my situation, I was quite lucky, you could say, but like, I had a lot of my friends because I studied abroad for the year, a lot of my friends in my peer group and my cohort graduated the year before me, so I kind of was more in tune with what happens afterwards. And I think other people were in my final year when I got through it. So I kind of knew I had a handful of success stories and a lot of kind of stories of kind of, I mean, not not not success stories, but kind of there's a lot of divergence between what people went down and people returning to study and repeat people returning home. So I think especially when you get a lot of information coming from like schools and departments, there are a lot of our These are our top graduates either our graduate awards, these are alumni that come back who have had really successful careers to be able to talk to students that have had the same experience as you who may not have gone straight to London. To do this incredible internship with this incredible company, international company, it's quite, it is reassuring to hear that not from kind of like the official department heads, but those that have also consumed this kind of whole education experience with you.

Sam:

You've got me thinking now, like, you know, you get like alumni come in to like do talks. And it's and it's more often than not someone who's like 12 years into their career, and they've, you know, they've run this organisation and their success story, but I reckon there's a lot of value in in just having like a range like talks with alumni who are like fresh out there and are still like, trying to break in. Because it's important to know that like that, like the majority of people aren't going to be success stories, and that if you're not a success story, in inverted commas, then that doesn't mean you're a failure. I've noticed the same thing where most of the times when you hear these like motivational speakers, and you get these talks where people come in to your school, to your high school to university, and they talk to you, you mostly hear where they are, and you don't see like all the no's that they've gotten and all the doors shut in their face. And I'm quite lucky that in my family, I have cousins who are like slightly older than me, and like there's a range of them. So I have the opportunity to talk to people like that. And then I have the opportunity to maybe talk to my seniors in high school. But apart from that you don't often hear and very many people don't have that same opportunity to hear from people who are still at home, like looking for jobs are six, eight months after their graduation. I think there's definitely something to be said about that. And I hope that more people find the opportunity to do so. And maybe with the way social media is growing. And you see so many blogs and websites been started for students, like in the universities as well, you see in their career websites and stuff. You hear about alumni and you I know in Leeds we do have the opportunity to talk to students who have graduated, I hope that that's more accessible to students. in their final year, and students who are looking to somewhat plan the few years after their graduation year, I hope so too.

Unknown:

This year, particularly the way COVID-19 kind of hit a few months before graduation. And I was talking to a colleague of mine about this, who graduated this year, they said that they didn't feel like there was any defining moment where they were like, okay, universities and and i would assume that graduation wouldn't be that defining moment, right? And it would be kind of like cathartic in a way where you can say, Okay, this is where my university journey ends. But obviously, considering that we had different circumstances this hill, how do you think students are? How did you guys react to that being a lack of this say last semester, where you could be working towards the end goal, so to speak,

George:

for me looking back on it, although having a graduation, I think would have been a very important moment. And it's it's a milestone, and having that day for you to celebrate your education and your efforts, I think is important. But for me, I felt that it was more important for my parents going into it. And what friends from previous years have said, I'm not as much of a loss with it as I thought I would be. And I think I think I did have a bit as we were discussing, I think kind of the imposter syndrome stuff. I did have a bit of that. So even if I had a graduation, I think I would have been there'd have been whereas I do I did I actually do well enough to have this graduation. And I mean, the certificate at the end do some weird qualification for that. Oh, it's definitely me. It definitely give me a signed certificate. I definitely did it. Yeah, I had a passport. And so

Sam:

in terms of graduation, like the graduation itself, you could look at it as like, the graduation is not the achievement, the achievement is the three years or more depending on your course. But at the same time, graduation is very special, because it's a day to celebrate yourself. And I think generally we don't tend to celebrate ourselves very much and like, we're not as good as like looking at our achievements as we should be. You know, so it isn't it is important in that sense. But for me, like obviously, like I was gutted, you know, when when I realised graduation was gonna happen, but what really hit me was like, I didn't really have like an opportunity to say goodbye to so many people to have like an end of year like ball, which I was gonna have in March, ya know, like these final like, end of year parties and you know, like, when it's when it's your last seminar, being able to like take pictures handing in your dissertation. It's that kind of stuff, you know, cuz it's like, I'm gonna get a certificate for, you know, doing my degree either way, but and the final But you know, I mean like these when it's like the last thing, and you know, it's the last thing and you can like prepare for that and mark in some way, you know, we're like deprived of like closure in a way as graduates of 2020. Yeah,

George:

it dawned on me as well. Like I it turned out I finished way before then I thought I was going to finish in my head within the university experience, like with the situation I was in, a lot of people that I was living with had left during lockdown. But were returning to go into the front line of the COVID response because I was living in a lot of medics. So then I had spent like a lot of time having to write my dissertation in my exams up on my own in Manchester, and I decided to finish some exams at home. So I actually finished not in Manchester, but I wanted to like Sam was saying, having that closure from Manchester to see my friends who are returning, but I wouldn't be able to return home if they were on the front line. There are so many like, deadlines going on that I ended up at home was oh my god, the Manchester like, my time in Manchester is pretty much over and I didn't Yeah, the closure wasn't wasn't there. And yeah, like I said that this difficult thing was some weird kind of confirmation that I had actually done it. But like, like Sam was saying, there's a lot more to the three or four years you have at university. And it's not just the exams and the and the research and the the graduation, it's the people as well that you want to say goodbye to or wish them luck or kind of have that experience with closing things up. very peculiar time.

Sam:

All right. Okay. So once we've come to terms with the fact that we're in our final year of study, we've got to do something after graduation. And there's there's this small task of deciding what to do. So the first option that springs to mind is postgraduate study, did

George:

have I ever have you thought about that? I have had thoughts on it. At first, I was like, No, I'm done. Like I can't, there's no way like this to me, I had four years of university, I thought I can't there's no way I'm going back, I kind of I've had I've done I've done my done my time kind of thing. I want to go out there and kind of apply that kind of stuff. But now having moved beyond that, and looking at the careers and looking at what's required and looking at how you use your university experience, I've kind of started looking back at returning at some point, I think it's quite a confusing time to be making it to deciding on that. And I have a lot of friends that are starting again this year in doing master's degrees or doing moving on to PhD stuff. So it started again, in my head that process of returning next year, the year after that I'm not too sure, yeah, um,

Kevin:

I have, I've definitely thought of it, again, that whole debate, or I do want to get as much as educated as I can in like the fields that I want, that I'm interested in. But at the same time, it's like I really want to jump in and you know, get my hands dirty, and like stop. So the conclusion that I've somewhat come to at least one of my options would be maybe a year of gain, gaining as much experience as I can. And then maybe once I have a more clear idea of what I want to visualise and then go into a post graduate or postgraduate education. But again, it always comes back to that, like, I don't want to make solid plans, you know, just because I don't know what I'm going to be I'm in my second I'm going into second year. So I don't know where I'm going to be two three years from now and what like pressures might arise what kind of circumstances we will be in. So I think in terms of like planning for, for the, for the for the education, it's definitely the way I see it, I kind of put myself I give myself like option A, option B, option C and then as time comes we decide what I'd like to do.

Sam:

Yeah, I am all through all through uni literally, since first year. I was like, I'm not doing a Master's. I you I'm not doing that. Like I want to get out of education. Just because I don't like writing essays. But I don't like them. So yeah, I was pretty much set on that. And then in third year I was Can I mean you could do a Masters? somehow not Yeah, I haven't ruled it out. I'm not planning on it anytime soon. But if I decide I want to do a Masters in one day, maybe I will. And I think that's the thing like you know, you can get like bogged down by thinking like Oh, is this the right step for me to take my career like is this like and I think a lot of people like you can look at it as like if you don't choose to do a Masters then like oh, then you know you've got to make up that last time by like doing it later on. Or like if you do a Masters now and it's like, oh, but I could be starting now rather than waiting another year to get out there. But like I think we I think generally we should calm down if we like think like that because you know you've got to at the end of the day you've got to do what makes you happy and like you know and there's you can talk about it endlessly about is it a smart decision, what have you but you know you can come to it later in life. It's not gonna it's not an option is going to be taken away from you. Really

George:

Have you brought up about how how you view your masters? As in? Do you view it as like a stepping stone? Or do you view it as something that you just want to do? Because you're passionate about it? I don't quite know yet personally, what I would do, I have sort of an idea, but I don't 100% know what I want to do as a masters or what I'd want to specialise in as monsters. What do you think the perspective of uni university students is around like, what a Master's actually means?

Sam:

I thought you were gonna ask us, what do you think I should do for masters? Kevin?

Kevin:

What should I do? Yeah,

Sam:

you know, I hear the phrase a lot lately is "panic masters". Which is really sad, I think. Because it's like, it's such a discredit to like your, your mates, if they say they're doing a masters, and you think, Oh, it's a panic masters. You know, I mean, like, you've just made a massive judgement on that person, if you if you think that way. But then on the other hand, I kind of, I kind of see it, like, the logic there. And some people might admit, like, yes, I'm doing a Masters out of panic. Because maybe because of the pandemic, and you know, like, you might not be able to, like, immediately pursue the career that you want to, but you can study more and, you know, take a bit more time to like, specialise think, you know, grow your options. I don't know why people do masters, really? Because I don't do one. But yeah, and I think it's okay if like, if you're using it as a partially at least as a kind of like, a buffer, because it's, it's not like it's, it's, it's a great investment, your education, you know, so even, even if you haven't always planned to do a Master's straight out of graduation, it's not gonna it's not really going to hold you back. I don't think you know,

George:

yeah. An academic in my department, said to me is like, Well, why don't do it? Why don't you just come and give us is going on why don't just come back to do a masters and you'll have like, some sort of, you'll have some sort of clarity at the end of that, because you know, you're going to be studying for a year for time, and you know, you'll get the loan. And there's, I think it really does depend on kind of how much time you've given to think about yourself and what you want to do next. Because there's, there's the opportunity to go out and study elsewhere or work elsewhere and get experience elsewhere to maybe know if you doing a Master's next is right for you. But then it could be completely understandable whether or not you want to go straight into that Master's, because you just love the subject.

Sam:

I wanted to ask, because of COVID, like effect on like the working world, our choices are kind of limited in terms of what we want to choose to do after graduation. So what I want to ask is, how did you respond to that change to that kind of narrowing of your options? Because I'll tell you one thing that I thought when this like stuff kind of started is that people aren't going to ask me what I'm going to do after graduation as much. And I don't think people did ask me that much. Because no one was really doing anything. You know, I mean, there was less of that expectation of like continual progression, which I thought was great. I thought cool. I can, you know, take a bit of time here. But yeah, how did you respond to that change?

Kevin:

I'm going to second year so there wasn't much debate for me. Fair enough.

George:

Yeah, I was similar. I had with my with my closest friends, talking all the way up until because I did my abroad, as I mentioned in there's the whole like, what are you going to do after this? What does that what does that year abroad mean for you? Why have you done this and that, like you said sound like kind of like died down a bit when the COVID situation came into fruition. And I like you I enjoyed it. I enjoyed not having to think of what was after that. worry as much of the lack of opportunities available after that. It did give me time to focus. But there were there was all this there's always this like now it notes come September and that kind of that whole cycle that I've had in my head and going back in September in study, it's kind of kind of hit me a bit more now. I don't need to wait for people to ask me questions. Maybe I need to need to be started producing things forwards. And yeah, that's kind of been my I mean, to be

Kevin:

said about how I'm just the amount of pressure that's put on to students when they graduate, like, what are you going to do next? Because everyone's asking you, what are you going to do next? Right. So it's kind of like I get, it makes sense that we feel a bit more at ease, because you didn't have as many people just flooding your messages with Congratulations, but what are you going to do next? Right. At least that's how I see it. At least that's what I've seen with people that I know who have graduated that they have and like a bit less pressurised because again, it's so uncertain that you less people are asking just because like everyone just knows. Okay, maybe they don't have an answer, because no one has an answer.

Sam:

Yeah. I don't know about you two but I feel like there's, there's a bit less of that now than there was before, you know, because before like, a few months ago, the world was totally shut down. Yeah, like no one could really do anything. Whereas now things are a little bit more like up and running a little bit more, a little bit closer to what they were. So you get a little bit more people asking. And, and that creates a little bit more pressure on people who have just graduated to, to have the next step planned out. And I wish we could normalise a bit more the the kind of transition periods. And, you know, and not looking at it as it not looking at it as like in between sections because, you know, your life doesn't happen. Like when you have a career, your life is already like your life is happening. You know, and we gotta celebrate that. I think

Kevin:

definitely, I like that you said particularly normalising the transition, because it's, it's, it's like it's pretty commonplace to just be on it, you know, to just have one thing after the next when it's it does take a toll on your mental health, when you do not have that are not the opportunity, but you don't have the space to just relax and take, take some time to properly plan what you want to do next, and how I like reflect on what you have done and what challenges you faced and overcome. So I quite like how you put it in how you put the phrase normalising the transition, or rather normalising The, the moments after Yeah,

Sam:

yeah, like if you asked me like, it's about, like we said before reflecting on what you've what is past what has happened to you over the past three years, for instance, you know, looking to the past as well as looking to the future. Yeah,

George:

yeah, I think it's, it's interesting, like how you think of it metaphorically like that, I guess I've had similar thoughts as like how things are standing Linear Like University careers, but like, some sort of constant movement. And oh, just because you're undecided on what's next, you're stationary, you're not moving in the way you're not going anywhere. But there are so many other things going on in your life that are beyond careers and education, there's an array of people and experiences, and I just feel like stationary and not doing anything. And a lot of the words that surround this period after university are quite a bit misleading and not kind of as respectful as kind of the narrative surrounding successful jobs and successful graduate applications like this. I feel like there's some sort of there's some sense of guilt going on there that surrounds those that don't get the job straight away and are stationary and staying put or returned home.

Sam:

Yeah, yeah. So many things there. It's like, you get these surveys done you where they they send to graduates where they ask if if you're in full time education or employment, six months after graduation, and then they use that as a statistic for open days. And obviously, like I get it, you know, yeah, like a marketing tool. But like, but you know, like, it's it kind of, it's like, they asked, like, are you? I mean, I can't say because I haven't had this survey yet. But there are you in employment or education, they don't ask like what you're doing. Yeah. And it and it kind of encourages this belief that like, there are there are set pathways, which are, you know, progression. And, and then there are others. And then other options are not, and it's just a bit daft. Really,

George:

yeah, it's like the University of light, they feel like they've delivered you some sort of service and also what you do now then with it, like, is it what we expect you should be doing? Like,

Sam:

yeah,

George:

it's not, I don't think it's the best marketing tool going in on an individual, like, experience with it. I can imagine it not being great.

Sam:

Yeah. And, and it's a shame because, like, you know, like it, like I said, like, I get why they do it, because I've worked during open days, like all through university. So I was talking to prospective students and parents, and the question that I got over and over again, was job prospects. And I don't know if that's just what everyone gets on open days, or if it's because I was representing the drama department. Um, but you know, it's something I think it's something that like, you know, parents worry, and, and, and students worry as well, because, yeah, depending on what degree you want to go and study, you do get a lot of people being like, Ah, well, that's not really a very, like employable or you know, that's not such a practical subject area. And you kind of you kind of really have to like block that stuff out. If you're wanting to pursue something that you're passionate about. That was a that was kind of the experience that I had when I was transitioning from school to university, you know?

George:

Yeah, I just quickly add to that, I think that I had a similar experience doing ambassador's death and talking to prospective students and parents and like us. I don't know if you've experienced this, Kevin. Yeah. But like, I don't know if it's a problem with the system itself. But it's like the olden days, the parents were inquiring about job prospects. And we ended up putting it off first slide on the presentation like, this is the output because so many people were asking it, that I think it just is, I don't know whether or not it's a part of the system in which education is in this country at the moment, which might be a meta narrative or something else, another discussion for another time, but have some sort of investment that you want to know what the out what the product is, like, what is your childhood? What are you as a student getting out of this investment of time and money into education? Obviously, we don't pay it all back. And there's so many stuff there. But it seems like on the open days, I found they were more worried about what happens after university than the three years at university.

Sam:

And when you put it like that, it sounds crazy. It's like, okay, no, you're like, You're asking me what's gonna happen in three years time?

George:

Yeah,

Sam:

like, Are you worried about the next three years?

Kevin:

Yeah. It's not understand where you come from when you say that, but it's like, you have to see, I mean, considering the society that we live in, which is, unfortunately, a capitalist society, education is an investment, right? And not to get into like, the deep stuff, which because we genuinely have a very, very long time, but you do need a job to survive, right? And of course, you do need a mental well being support system, and you need good people around you, and you need all sorts of other things. And you need to be happy, but you do need money. Yeah. And the only way to do that is to have a I don't wanna, I don't wanna say a good education, just because it's like, there's like issues with that as well, considering the sorts of people who are unable to access education, but basically, you just need a job. Yeah. But yes, unfortunately, I think very many people, or at least, honestly, even myself, I did view education as an investment. And it just so happened that I'm very, very passionate about what I'm studying. Maybe I'm part of the problem. Yeah.

Sam:

The problem, Kevin? Yeah, I mean, God, I don't want to don't don't let me talk about capitalism for too long. But, um, yeah, I mean, like, I'm aware, like, education is definitely an investment and it you know, a big part of it is that, like, it helps you get a job. But I kind of what, when I was making the decision to go to university, I was kind of thinking, like, I think it'd be fun. And, and, you know, I'm, I think I'm lucky to be able to, like, look at it from that perspective thing. Like, oh, I want to go somewhere where I'm going to have a good time not being sad. Like, I was looking at things like which universities have good job prospects and, and all this stuff. Yeah. So it's, it's a tricky one like, because like, you've you've got to, like accept the rules of capitalism, but also like, you kind of need to put yourself first in a way that a capitalist society doesn't generally favour so it's like a tightrope to walk. I think.

George:

I feel that like, as we keep progressing, like generation generation, there's less stress on Oh, I want to get, I want to be a billionaire and stuff like that. I mean, of course, it's not the same for everyone, but very many people that I know just want to have fun, just have a good time, do what they want, study what they want, because they love what they want. Because they want to be in love with they want to do right.

Sam:

Yeah, I mean, I think I can think of quite a few like younger people who who are very interested in making money, but I looked up the University of Manchester's Career Service, and they have a section on their website called, I don't know what I want to do. And apparently, that's the most common thing that they get told. So, you know, my point is, take it easy, because you'd have most people it seems like have this kind of uncertainty. So don't be too hard on yourself.

George:

Have a friend about a week ago, so now you're about at the pub. And he was talking about we just graduated this year, and he was talking about writing his dissertation. And he says that he put his nine to five doing it. He was putting every effort and all his days into doing it and he hadn't really been. He didn't really enjoy writing essays at secondary school in sixth form. So this was I could tell when I tuned in that this was something he was immensely proud in. And a week later he told me after meeting with the Pope, he said, Oh, I didn't do Didn't get the grade I really wanted in that. I don't think I think I deserved more. And like he talked to him and his feedback on his dissertation piece and said, we kind of came to the conclusion that like, we are both marked success in the wrong way, a lot of the time on that particular mark, you get, we just said, like, if we are proud of the thing that we have done, and we didn't think we could do that before, we had never done that before, and we produce something that we had given effort to him and enjoy doing then that is our measure of success, whether or not you get the grade you think he wanted or not. So I just wanted to get your thoughts on kind of what you have used as your, your markers of success, whether it's University related, whether it's sports related.

Sam:

It's it's tricky, isn't it? Because right the way through education, we get given numbers constantly, or letters, and they indicate how we're doing generally. Especially at university, I think I can, I cannot count the number of conversations I've had with classmates, you know, after we've got a mark back, because people ask you, what did you get? You don't get a lot of, or what was your essay about? You know, or like, how did you find writing? It's more like, what did you get, and it's kind of like, it just goes to show you like where generally our priorities lie. And like, this is gonna make me sound a bit lame, I think. But when everyone was like, when everyone was getting their results back at the end of this year, and and found out like what grade they would get overall, for that degree, everyone was posting about it on Facebook. And I did a post on Facebook. I did a post on social media. But I purposely, like, left out my mark. And not because I wasn't happy with my mark, I was super happy with my mark. But I didn't want people to talk about my mark, you know, because it's just like, I mean, it means different things to different people. I totally respect me, like, I don't care. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, I what's what's important to me is that, like, I've made some lifelong friends. And I tried some new things out. And, and I don't want people to if I if I wrote like a paragraph beneath this social media post, I don't want people to read one number, and then forget everything else. I think some people think I'm a bit weird for thinking that way. But that's how I look at it.

Kevin:

Now, it's completely like Amazon, that you wouldn't want to be defined by a grade at the end of three years, or maybe more of just memories and like, good times, and learning, most importantly, learning things in your field and learning about yourself, as well. I see where you're coming from when you say that you wouldn't want to be that it's not as important to you having that number on display. Because there's, that's just like one window into the past few years. Like what must have been an incredible experience. Um, the way I see like, what, what what you were talking about George's basically, it's like, okay, so because I studied art in high school. It's, it's very, very subjective, isn't it. But it's like, with visual arts, you need to often you do need to meet a certain criteria of like, say, composition, form, things like that. So those are like your rules in art. But then there's a lot to be said about personal style, and technique and things like that. So when you look at a piece of academic writing, or something along those lines, a piece of work that you've made, there's definitely there's there's criteria that other people want you to meet. And there's criteria that you you, you feel like you've met, because with art and with like with an essay as well, you're going to be nitpicking it to the last minute, right? It's the same thing with art, you keep unit tech and you put a stroke there, a black line here, a little something over there until it's perfect for you, but other people might not see it as the same. So I think when it's something close to your heart like that, which for me, art is I always oftentimes don't bother about other people's critique. To me it's a success if I'm happy with it. Of course, I can't be like, I'm applied to a dissertation where you can't say, Well, I like it. Also, again, more criteria that you do have to meet. So I think to an extent you can, you can call it a personal success and an external success. If that, if that, if that makes sense at all.

George:

Yeah, no, definitely. I think there's like, I don't know whether or not that is a problem with sometimes the whether or not the effect this has on your mental health that there is such there can be such a big divergence between what you think success and what success actually is your personal success goals and the defined industry standard success goals, like,

Kevin:

I think for like non academic things, it also, you can also say, like perspective plays a big role, because they say, you went on a date with someone, and you thought it went really well. But the other person, in their mind is boring as hell. Yeah. It's all about, it's all about perspective. And I think perspective plays a lot into mental health, because it's that whole thing of like, viewing the glass as half full and half empty, that you can celebrate the good things that happened during your experience at university, or you can say, Well, I, you can, you can focus on the failures. So it definitely takes a certain mindset. I think, when you're trying to deem a certain event as a success or failure,

Sam:

yeah, it's tricky, like to train your brain to have that kind of perspective, where you can just be happy in yourself. You know, I'm, I'm someone who definitely relies at least partially on like, validation from other people. And I'll probably never be able to shake that completely. But I think if I did, then I would be some kind of superhuman or robot. Because everyone needs validation from other people. Yeah, so this is just something we've got to constantly like, be aware of, and we've got to keep, like checking in on ourselves and try and like you say, like, get some perspective. Maybe, like, try and look at yourself from the outside, you know, to to be happy. Yeah.

Kevin:

As well, like, criticism is important. When you're getting feedback for an essay, it's you need that feedback, so you can improve. And like, it's important to reflect on the challenges you've faced, and things like that. So I guess like to add to what you just said, Sam, I think it's also about like, having an open mind to listen to other people's thoughts.

George:

Yeah, I think this kind of success failure binary of it's one or the other, I think that they aren't those two separate opposite things like success comes from failure, or there is there there are times to reflect in those moments in which you don't think you have achieved what you probably have achieved pretty well. That kind of comes a lot as well, I don't know how you guys have found. And I know you're still a university, Kevin but comparing yourself to other students, as you mentioned earlier, and we've posted your result is quite easy to compare digits, but I don't I have you guys dealt with comparison or contrasting yourself with those that have gone to university or friends that aren't, or have you ever been to university? Well, I

Sam:

definitely compare myself. Yeah, to people, that's for sure. And I deal with it, though.

Kevin:

When when I do compare myself to other people, which I unfortunately do more often than I should. It's, it's, I've been learning recently, just to remind myself like you're doing the best you can, or at least you should be doing the best that you can, you'll be the arm that stressing you out of it. So it's sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But, um, um, it's it's trying to like it's practice, right? So I'm just practising to compare myself, but not To be too downhearted when I find myself lacking in certain areas where it's like, out of my control. You know, because it's not just with academics that I can that people compare myself or I compare myself with, it's with just life stuff. And like, other people having like, more experience in something than me, I'm just like, it's okay. You, there's so much time, like, you're only 19 there's so much time for you to get to get experience. Um, so, for me, in my, for me, it's just reminding myself and like practising not, that's how I, I still do compare myself a lot. But, um, I come out of it just slightly, slightly less, I'm upset, let's say,

Sam:

Yeah, I want to echo that, Kevin. Because I found recently, I've been kind of comparing my uni experience to that of like, one of my friends from school, who definitely partied a lot more than I did in uni. And I kind of wish I had, you know, take a leaf out of her book. But, like, I need to like, sometimes I need to like, and what I tried to do is get a bit of perspective there and be like, hang on, like, one, I had a great time at uni. You know, like, I wouldn't I and I, and I try not to, like, regret things myself, like, just generally. And then like, you say, Kevin, again. I'm so young still, like, I, you know, it's, it's not like my life is over now. And even though like, because of because of the way society is set up, I feel like, we fall into the habit of thinking like, right, you've got education, and then you've got work. And those are two blocks of your life. And so now and if that were true, then I am just in a work block, and I'm going to stay that way, for decades. But, you know, like, you've got to, like, get some perspective, really and think like, I mean, I was I was panicking about you know, that recently, like, if I don't immediately, like get a job in, in like the arts, am I still going to be able to pursue that career in like, a year or two? And then eventually, I was like, Wait, hang on, like, no one is gonna stop you. From like, pursuing a career in like, at the age of like, 23.

Kevin:

Yeah, yeah,

Sam:

they still still look at you as a baby at that point. You know, so like, Yeah, I just think like, it's, it's a hard thing to do. But you kind of need to like, step one step out of your own head and like, Look at yourself and be like, Am I overreacting here? Or like, Am I being kind to myself? Am I being sensible? All these kind of questions.

George:

Yeah, I think it like, kind of coming back around to what Kevin mentioned earlier about, do you see the glass half full? Do you see it half empty? Sometimes you do have to kind of, they've both been saying is having that step back and appreciating what like, the past tense of what you've done, and what you have. And kind of where it's gotten you to this moment or not, is not all for nothing. So I think I've kind of got there are a few questions, I asked some of my friends about what they base their success and failures on. And I kind of tried to give them to try and give me like one or two words on it. So I'm gonna give you kind of five things that they kind of humorously have said, yeah, that's why based on that's what I think it should be based on. Alright. So one i thought was quite good was Did I make it to London or not, is a success is a bit of a humorous one there a lot. I think a lot of graduates find, especially in the UK earnings when getting out of university. One friend said the hours per week to earning ratio. One said whether or not you're returning home or not to the parents was one of their success factors. And the other one was being proud, as we've mentioned earlier, so

Sam:

I mean, some of those I probably share. Yeah, none of them. I think that's crazy. Like I don't understand how how they could think like that. Yeah, you know, like that. I don't think any of them are particularly like, out there, you know? Yeah.

Kevin:

Yeah. What do you think yours would be like off the top of your head? If I gave you three seconds right now? Right, three seconds are up. Come on now.

Sam:

If I felt like I was doing something important, George,

George:

if I was doing something similar, similar line that was helping people to live a happier life.

Kevin:

Okay.

Sam:

All right. I like yours back. Can I change my hands? Yeah, one, Kevin?

Kevin:

Um, mine's definitely not as Actually No, I am quite happy with mine. It's whether or not my plants I've lived through the year

Sam:

is good. Oh, can I change mine now? Please?

Kevin:

Oh, you know how? Okay, so I was talking to a friend of mine who's doing like, a very long course like, so it will be a three year course. And then, which is like necessary for the field and in question. And basically, because it's so long, it's essentially like seven years, there's that I wanted to know your perspective on, like, a fear of losing interest in your field, just because from at least the way I've thought of it is basically, it takes it's right now we have so many options available to us. Right. Like, in the past, it was familiar occupation. So if your grandfather was a carpenter, your dad was a carpenter, it would be assume that you would be a carpenter as well, right? But now that we have two options, there's a lot of it takes, it's very hard to make a choice as to what you want to do. After that whole, like toil and hours and hours of thinking of what do I want to do? If you have a course like this, that's like very long, or requires a lot of hours and years put into it? What it is that that like that, like feel that? Okay, after I put all this, and I lose interest? And I kind of want to change my career. But like, what are people going to say? How am I going to start over? On what am I going to do? Like the socio economic dynamics as well? For some people starting over is not an option. Yeah, basically, like, how do you think that there is that fear in university students? And it doesn't really matter, as well, if your course is that demanding? Just how do you feel about starting over, once you've graduated, and say, had two years of experience in the field?

Sam:

For me, having studied drama, and screen studies, and I think this applies to any kind of art, to be honest. It's kind of understood that, like, it's quite hard to make it, so to speak. And a lot of people give up. And, and then I think, yeah, because it is hard like, and there are a few jobs in the arts that kind of run in a straight line. And even if you're have been working for like, several years, you're probably not going to find job security. Yeah. And so at any point in your career, not just the beginning stage, you could easily become discouraged. And think about giving up. But I think, like if you do choose to pursue a career that is not related. In the arts, it doesn't necessarily mean like, it doesn't mean failure. Like for me, if I decide like, I want to make art at the moment, but if I decided a few years time, like I don't want to do that I want to do something else. If the if I can do another thing that makes me happy, then I count that as a success. But the problem is that because of this kind of like hostile attitude there is in our society towards artists, and like being an artist as a career. If people know that like you have studied art at university or you used to be an artist in some capacity, and you're not anymore. Then they'll assume that you tried, you failed and you gave up. Yeah. Rather than, like humouring, the idea that you actually chose to pursue another career path because it would make you happy.

George:

Yeah, I think, for my experience, and I think it does, it does differ with the type of degree you're doing and the subjects you are interested or alluded, becoming interested in, I think, the flexibility of doing a degree at this moment in time, as the way things are set out in 2020, that the, a lot of the appendages to being a student are very supportive of it not all being dedicated to the degree itself. For example, I had a friend who in her final year, she really really became kind of , disinterested, but kind of what's the word kind of fell stuck behind the shadow of this of geography, and geography itself has a lot of problems with with whiteness, and masculinity, as a whole, there's a whole plethora of issues at the university level, and she kind of felt kind of separate to that. And they kind of came to a head in a final year. And with the work she was doing in other activities at university, she kind of came to the final year. And she wasn't, she wasn't kind of acknowledged for it. But a lot of the stuff she did, and especially with her research project was kind of be very kind of like have a self critical view of geography. So she kind of is like her research was kind of this narrative of falling out of love with a subject that she thought was going to do this and this for her. But her final piece was a review on kind of what the degree offers to you. And I think that's kind of a really good way to reflect on how it's not just the subjects that determines kind of you like, what you can take from university, I think there are a lot of other things that can help you pay off one another. A lot, whether or not that's kind of stuff you do at the student union that helps you kind of reengage with kind of the subject you're doing or gives you a new light or a new perspective on things. I think that can be really useful in that sentence, that kind of something I've kind of had conversation with friends about.

Kevin:

I like your perspectives on it. I'm very interested to hear what you have to say Sam regarding the field of arts in particular. Because there's that whole narrative around the arts, at least from what I've seen, but yeah, and there's, there's a few like, there's definitely something to be said about, like the experience you gain and like the skills you gain and stuff like that. But you're not like you're not you're not, you're not losing experience, you still have, you can still say yes, I've worked in this field, and then there's that that's one field crossed off your list? Because, I mean, there's a whole world out there to explore, isn't there? Yeah.

Sam:

Yeah, and there are different routes to the same goal as well. But the thing is, you can't really see them all. You kind of have to walk forward with your eyes closed if I carry on with this metaphor. Yeah, and like go in and out of things, basically, rather than just taking the most obvious path, or at least that option is there.

Kevin:

Yeah. And I I'd like to see it normalised. You know, that kind of narrative around moving in and out of your interests. And so if of course you have, you are able to do so base. That's just something I was thinking about while while like thinking about the rest of this stuff. I think we've done quite well, boys.

Sam:

Yeah, not bad not bad

George:

Thanks. Listen to this episode. If you have any questions or want to let us know about something we missed, or even if you want to get involved, please do get in contact at the student minds website. Here you can also find information about different support services available, including how to find them, and what to expect when using them for the first time. If you do find that you're struggling with your own mental health, there are a number of resources you can turn to, including the Student Space, an online one stop shop for students in England and Wales who want to find help. For their mental health or well being your local GP, where you can refer to specialist support and services. Your University Student Support Services, which may include counselling, student advice centre, mental health advisors and the Students Union. Samaritans can be contacted at 116123 or through email. At [email protected] who offered a confidential listening service hopeline Uk can be contacted at over 800 oh 684141 or emailed through [email protected] T is is a confidential service s ecifically for young people un er the age of 35. They can offer crisis support for someone w o is experiencing thoughts r feelings of suicide, as well a providing information advice fo those concerned about someone e se. You can contact nightline a student run phone support s rvice that runs over night. St dents against depressi n is a website with lots of nformation about tackling depression and low mood, in luding self help resource and workbooks for students to work through to start ta ing steps towards tackling low mood. This can be found at students against depressi n.org and for the NHS red line in an emergency situatio , contact 999 and 111 for non mergency situations.