Why it’s ok not to have it all figured out!
Updated: Jul 12
How I helped prepare MMU graduates for the world of work
Five years ago, I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Advertising and Brand Management. I remembered feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement at the prospect of what the future held. I was pretty lucky that I soon got my first gig as a Marketing Executive at Marketing Agency, Mustard Media. But not everyone will walk into a job straight after graduation, or even know what sort of role they even want.
And when you see all your course mates looking like they have it all mapped out, it’s easy to panic or feel like a failure. But as someone who did manage to have next steps in place when I graduated, I want to say, actually, it’s ok not to know what you want to do or where you should be, because that’s exactly where I found myself, too. So, when MMU got in touch with me about speaking at an upcoming graduation event, I jumped at the chance to share my story and help reassure all the graduates who haven’t got a clue what to do next, that feeling like that is perfectly fine.
Sharing my story
On the 29th January, MMU’s Business School held their Graduation Ready Event where an alumni panel (including yours truly) shared tips on what students need to be mindful of as their studies come to a close and they begin job hunting.
I put together a short presentation for around 40 students, covering my career journey from graduation to where I am now, filled with personal insights. For example, I think a lot of graduates from my course set their sights on big agencies, whereas I saw it differently. I was keen to find my feet at smaller agencies as I knew I could get more involved in the whole marketing process and take ownership of projects. Plus, I felt like individuals would be nurtured and developed within a smaller team, which in my mind equalled better progression. Yes, I had my sights set on the top from day one - and why not?!
Before graduating, I think everyone has a perception of what it will be like to work in a marketing agency. But unless you’ve managed to bag a placement during your course, the reality is, it’s probably a lot different from what you’d expect, and the ins and outs can take some time to get your head around. So, I thought it would be helpful to talk the students through a typical marketing team structure. The thing is, my journey didn’t really follow that route, which is where I wanted to explain that it’s ok to stray from the pre-set path if it doesn’t work for you. Starting out down one route, and veering off a different direction, taking a complete U-turn even, it’s all ok.
Did I improve people’s lives?
I’d like to think so. If there’s one thing I wanted the students to take away from my talk, it was to follow your gut and do what makes you happy, not what you think is ‘right’. I’m a firm believer that only you are accountable for your happiness - it’s not someone else’s job to make you happy - and that includes in your professional life, too. If something isn’t going in the direction you want it to, do something about it. If you’re unhappy in the position you’re in, do something about it. It’s scary, yes. But it’s also brave to turn your back on the easy option and try and do something different.
I think sharing your personal experiences, good and bad, can really help people who might be in similar situations that you’ve been in, and are in need of advice or guidance. It’s something that I’m really passionate about, and hope to do more of as part of the 1mLives campaign I’m currently working on. My goal is to help improve the lives of as many people as possible to reach the campaign’s target of 1million people by 2022 - so I’m already hunting down my next opportunity to help others. In the meantime, I hope all the students graduating from MMU this year are feeling more prepared and confident about what’s to come.