My Graduate Life: Kim Carroll

I began my further education at the age of 17 when I was accepted into Maynooth University in 2012 to study a Double Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Geography.

When I was doing my Leaving Cert I realised my strengths lay with English and essay writing. Initially, I felt that my main passion was for journalistic writing and I desperately wanted to work in some form of the media. Unfortunately, the Leaving Certificate points system did not allow me to enter the course I had all of my hopes set on – Media Studies in Maynooth. As I didn’t receive enough points, I decided to go ahead with Arts with my main focus being English. I picked Geography as my second subject as it was a subject I had really come to enjoy in my last year of school.

As time went on in Maynooth, I began to suffer with some minor anxiety surrounding social settings and confidence with my work. I never took part in any “college nights out” and I began to feel very isolated when it came to my final year. By this time I was only 18 and still very young nearing the end of my second year. I began working part time at the weekends to earn some extra money for myself and I made many friendships in the workplace that I felt I never could have in college.

During the summer before my final year, I enrolled myself in a summer course to study Broadcasting, Media Production and Direction. I loved this course and everything within it and although I was the youngest person on this 6 week course by many years, I put myself out there and got my first internship with TV3 helping out with one of their shows. I also wrote to many online news sites which were relatively unknown to do some freelance writing for them. I wrote some articles for them which were well received. I didn’t have any experience in news or feature writing up until this point, and although these articles were received well, I began to suffer majorly with confidence in this area.

When it came to my final semester in college, I hit quite a wall with anxiety and was told by one of my professors privately that the grades they were seeing would not allow me to pass my course and they recommended I repeat my final year. I seriously considered leaving my course and not returning at this point and just continuing to work part time and wait for some full time work in retail.

Kim at her graduation in Griffith College (2019).

However, for some reason I decided not to listen to this professor who’s advice was with the best intention for me and my mental health  and I decided to continue and finish the course that I truly did not enjoy and I thought would be “no use to me” in the future.

Somehow, I graduated from Maynooth with a 2:2 degree, something I was very proud of considering how my grades had slipped below average for the entire final year.

After this, I decided that I needed to take a year out to think and decide what I truly wanted to do. A year turned into 3 years. During this time I applied for a Master’s degree in Linguistics out of panic as I thought I would never go back to college. I attended this course for 3 months but quickly realised that I had no interest in this field and I was simply panicking.

I fully give credit to where I am now to the time I spent working full time in various retail stores. During this time I found out so much about myself and gained such an amount of confidence in myself that I didn’t think would be possible. I also felt I needed that time to relax and enjoy my early twenties which I definitely did. I began to forget about going back to college after what I felt was a “failed attempt” at a Masters. It was only when  I was unfairly treated in my final retail job that I decided I wanted something more for myself and when I left my job without notice at 23, I applied for a Master’s Degree in Journalism and Media Communications at Griffith College the same day. While waiting to hear if I had been accepted I took on some temp work in offices – this was a new experience for me which I realised I quite enjoyed. I enjoyed having my own area to work in privacy with no noise, and I soon realised I might like a career in an office environment. Customer service in retail wasn’t the most suited to me!

When I was accepted onto this course, I was so excited and in such disbelief that I was eventually going to study what always wanted to since I was 15. I also began working as a waitress full time before beginning my Master’s – another new experience I surprisingly enjoyed.

I went into the course feeling the regular nerves that all students do but I was completely terrified that I wouldn’t be able for the academic side of the course. Within the first few days of my course, I began to feel so comfortable and hopeful for the next few months. I excelled more than I ever had academically, I enjoyed every part of the work I was assigned which was never the case in my BA. When I received average marks for my first one or 2 essays, I became disheartened and thoughts of quitting came into my head again. However, due to some of the friendships I was making on my course and the support I had from them and my family, I decided to take the criticism and allow it to fuel me to do better and learn more and more from small mistakes. I also realised during this course, that I was definitely my biggest critic and I gave myself an awful time..

Throughout the rest of my course, I worked extremely hard gaining first class honours in many of my subjects, and didn’t receive one poor grade. I credit this to not only my hard work, but the overwhelming support from family, friends and my college peers. I decided near the end of my Masters to apply for as many jobs as possible that would help me learn more and would allow me to write online. While finishing my dissertation I was invited to interview at my current job in an executive Content Marketing position. This was something I never would have thought I would be able for but after a few interviews I was offered the job the same day I printed my dissertation.

I graduated from Griffith College last November with a 2:1 Master’s Degree and  am currently still working as a Content Marketing Executive. I produce numerous articles a month for my company along with other forms of content produced for clients, while also learning so much about Marketing strategies and gaining new skills with the help of my colleagues. Marketing was something I never considered when I was in college, but knowing I can produce articles and learn something new each time in so many different areas of my companies sector, I feel extremely lucky. I’m also so grateful that I didn’t give up on my BA and that it did provide massive opportunities for me. Although I didn’t see it at the time, finishing that course and taking time out to work and think is the reason I am so fully contented in the career I have begun.

I am currently upskilling with numerous short courses related to my field as I have learned how important it is to keep yourself educated after graduating from college, as there really is so many opportunities for every Irish graduate who wants to work hard and find them. In my down time, I try to keep fit and active and enjoy taking time out every few months to use the money I earn to make sure to do things I enjoy, mainly traveling and visiting places that make me happy.

Now being confident in my role and knowing the endless opportunities I have ahead of me is very exciting and I’m now extremely happy about the way I got to where I am. As cheesy as it may sound, everything was a huge learning experience for the future and how I am able to navigate myself through personal obstacles going forward. I now look back at my entire graduate experience with great pride and gratitude and I know for sure that a lot of things definitely happened for a good reason and got me to my position now. Although obstacles will definitely be ahead of me again, I feel from my past experiences I can guide myself in a much clearer and confident way at 25.

Kim Carroll

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