Dealing with the “Creative Degree” Post-Uni Crisis
Your professors say it over and over again: “real life starts now”. This is almost always followed by “it’s difficult to land your dream job”. After spending years writing essays, completing presentations and studying in the library, the last thing you want to hear is that all that work was in vain.
But then you graduate, and the job hunt begins.
Applications get rejected.
You don’t have enough experience.
As bills pile up and student discounts expire, that retail job you left three weeks ago starts to sound good again.
Feeling frustrated and regretful in your chosen degree is almost unavoidable; you knew your field was going to be difficult, but never thought it would be impossible. But the truth is, everybody goes through it. And everybody can get through it.
Here’s 4 easy ways how:
1) Give Yourself Space
It’s ok to want to hide from the world for a little while. Remember, you’ve just been thrown from the kiddie pool of university into the ocean of adulthood, and even when you feel that time is running out and everything is collapsing…. all you need to do is take a step back.
Sometimes a time-out is essential for regrouping your thoughts and establishing your next moves.
2) Stay Realistic, But Not Pessimistic
Unless you hit the jackpot, landing your dream job will not happen overnight. Going back to your old barista job may seem counterproductive, but if you think of it as an “intermediate step”, you’ll feel less stressed about the fear of failure. Do it to get you through, but never lose track of your aims. Unless you chose your degree as an easy way out, you have a passion for it and want to pursue it.
So, edit that chapter. Go to that audition. Draw that cartoon. Design that dress. Setting yourself small tasks will give you a sense of discipline, but thinking small also make it easier for you to get motivated towards the final goal.
3) Stop Regretting Your Degree
So, you did it. You have your degree. You go out into the real world to promote your work and, suddenly, you meet them: the Debbie Downers.
They come in two types:
- TYPE A: those who swear you don’t need a bachelor’s degree in a creative field, and that you got yourself indebted for no reason. Ok fine, so you don’t necessarily require higher education to get hired, but while you may be a pro at life skills, university helps build these up.
Time management, adhering to deadlines, learning to work under stress –these abilities will give you a head start in the real world. And don’t forget: your time at university can be an opportunity to network (always keep in touch with uni friends; you never know who they might become, and how they can help you!) and a chance to make use of your professors’ contacts.
- TYPE B: those who tell you to get a real job. Validation of a creative degree is a whole other topic, but what Type B insists is that you are better off grinding your teeth at a job you hate, but at least getting home to food on the table. And while their argument is valid, how can they expect you to climb positions and earn more if your motivation is stalled by the thought of doing a job you hate?
Money, you might answer. But that’s not all true. A study by Tim Judge indicates that there’s less than 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction levels. In 2017, Andrew Chamberlain conducted a study that revealed that “across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay: It is the culture and values of the organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company.”
So yes, those council taxes aren’t going to pay themselves, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your dreams.
4) Just Do It
Yes, yes, it’s cliché and overused. But it’s simple: go out there, and push for your work to be recognised. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t explore all your options. You’ve completed your degree, that’s a start. Have confidence in yourself and in what you do. If you believe in it, so will others.
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Charlie Chaplin’s act was initially rejected by Hollywood studios because “it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.”
If you feel demotivated by rejection, remember that only those who brushed it off and tried again became successful.
Xiomara Meyer is a drama and creative writing graduate with an interest in psychology and the slightly bizarre. Samples of her work can be found here.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.