If I had to advise other students about life after Uni, I would say that you need, above all, to learn to be flexible. When I graduated, I was definite about wanting to work in marketing and set about trying to find jobs in this field. Having spent a few years living abroad and having moved away from home for university, I also knew that I wanted to stay put in Dundee. After a while I realised that marketing jobs weren’t readily available in Dundee and these two ideas were not compatible. While temping as a secretary and then moving into retail – working as Children’s Specialist Bookseller in Borders – I had the time to consider what it was that I really wanted to do and what was realistic. I decided that I did not want to move away from my family again and that this was more important than a career in marketing. Working with children at Borders, gave me the incentive to return to university and do a postgrad in Primary Teaching.
Without a doubt, I needed the break between the my undergrad and postgrad courses to work out what it was that I wanted, and have the breathing space to decide who I wanted to be. Especially in the current job market, I do not think that you can rule out anything until you have tried it, and who knows you might be surprised at where it eventually leads you. I might not want to work in retail again, but surprisingly it showed me how important working with children was to me. Having a degree already (BA Hons French and Marketing), means that I could reach NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) status within a year. The activities I took part in at university definitely added strings to my bow, and helped me to get on the course. Remember that these are just as valid examples to use in application forms and interviews as the degree you end up with. When you leave university you will have worked hard to get the qualifications needed to get a job, but it is now up to you to be opened minded and give yourself the chance to try new things which you may never have considered before.
I still have to be flexible in my thinking, as I am now living and teaching in Switzerland. For someone that wanted to stay back at home with her family, I have moved on again. I am even thinking about where I might move next! I feel as though all doors are open to me and that once again I need to be ready to accept new experiences. I am currently working in a bilingual international school, which looks out on to Lake Geneva and France on the other side. I am taking full advantage of the lifestyle out here, and being able to join my friends for a drink by the lake after work and soaking up the sunshine whilst dipping my toes in the water. The impact of my degree in French, has even taken me as far as Australia, where I am visiting a friend that I met during my year abroad as a language assistant. I must admit that I feel a bit like a nomad, wandering from place to place, but this is certainly not a problem for the moment anyway. I consider the sum of all my different experiences to make me more of an international citizen, and this attitude has helped me to settle in and adapt to the different lifestyles in the many different countries I have had the chance to visit.