I wrote a post similar to this around a year ago, but seeing as my audience has grown a lot since then and I’ve got another year of “life experience” under my belt, I thought it would be helpful to put together a refreshed post for all you grads/undergrads that are wondering what on earth you’re going to do with your lives after university.
I recently re-tweeted a thread where a woman was discussing unpaid internships – it really inspired me to write this post so definitely make sure to check out the whole thread here.
I’ve always been very strong willed when it comes to my career – I was having a chat with my manager at work about it recently (yes I’m still working full time – I know, how on earth do I churn out this top notch content and work full time?! It’s called having no social life and needing to save all the pennies for a wedding 😉) and it got me thinking about my past, decisions I’ve made about my career path and how I am when it comes to sticking with something to the bitter end.
I was just twenty-one years old when I graduated with a 2:2 in Fashion Design from the University of Hertfordshire – about a month before the end of my course I bagged myself a flat through the council and was juggling decorating/moving, my part-time job as a pharmacy assistant/dispenser in Morrisons and my final major project. I had been living with my grandparents at the time and we’d come to an agreement that I would try to find a place after I graduated. Little did I know that when I started looking I’d be accepted so quickly having been on the waiting list for three years beforehand.
Fast forward to my final day of university and I was all moved in, searching for a full time job that could pay the bills. My reality (along with many others) was that going for an unpaid internship at a fashion house in London wasn’t an option for me. Unfortunately, not everybody has the luxury of the bank of Mum and Dad, or to live in London so travel costs aren’t that expensive – so these great opportunities aren’t available to those less fortunate.
So I ended up working in financial services, starting as a customer service representative, dotting around in various roles before settling in a team manager position which I’ve been in for the last year and a half.
For a good couple of years, I’d come to terms with the decision and hadn’t done too much in terms of creativity – yes I would always be taking on odd-job clothing repairs/alterations from colleagues, friends and family, but I didn’t stick with it as much as I would have loved to.
I’d get bitter about the masses of “celebrity fashion designers” that would launch clothing lines without knowing the ins and outs of how to design a garment, let alone construct one (still a peeve of mine lol) and wonder whether I could do my own thing. I’d dabbled in bits and bobs in my free time, but it was only when I really devoted myself to this blog that I realised I could create my own opportunity.
I knew I loved to write, which was where this blog came in two years ago – I wanted to create a place where I could share my stupid stories about fashion which were a lot more relatable to people than the standard fashion bloggers of today – I’m unconventional in this world and won’t conform to these unwritten/unspoken “blogger standards”. I think that it’s my niche and am more than happy to roll with that – it’s worked okay so far I think?
Starting this blog made me more determined than ever to get creative again and remember what I wanted to do in the first place – I continued with blog, started to spend more time on growing my social media channels and then started creating upcycled clothing of my own to sell on my Etsy store My Fashion Faux Pas.
Do I regret any of it?
Absolutely not – that was the path that was paved for me and I couldn’t have created a life for myself without having done it.
Do I wish I could have afforded to take an unpaid job which may or may not have led to a permanent job in my beloved fashion industry?
The answer is still no (for the most part anyway – I’ll admit there are times when I wonder “what if” but then forget about it). I don’t think I could have lived with myself knowing I might have wasted a period of my life, without knowing if it was definitely going to lead to a job at the end – I’m a firm believer in erm… PAYING PEOPLE?! And think that an unpaid internship is a glorified term for modern-day slavery (maybe that sounds extreme… but you get my point) you always hear about companies that rely purely on interns for their hard labour and when it comes to the end, they only end up with “experience” on their CV. No thanks.
I’m still in the early stages of this blog and my online store, but am determined to make this become something more than just a hobby. For anyone reading this that is in a similar position to how I was back then – I’d say go with your gut and if you don’t get a job in your chosen industry (I think this applies to the more creative fields!), then make your own opportunity. Paving your own way is sometimes the only option and I’m glad it was mine.