Hey! I’m Rebecca, I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a research masters in Psychology. I’m currently working as a Student Support and Engagement Administrator at a university in the North!
I didn’t intend to study at a postgrad level, it was only after being offered funding for receiving a first in my undergraduate degree, that I figured, why not? I had intended to try and pursue a career in publishing, after spending my time in university editing and writing for the student magazine, and writing for the local newspaper. I was quite convinced a creative career was for me (perhaps it still is on the cards). Over the summer, I managed to secure two placements at independent publishing houses, but in the September of 2017, I began my research masters. I had only a loose plan of what I wanted to do, and saw this the perfect opportunity to bide some time (probably not the best motivation behind doing a masters!). I focused my MSc thesis on the exploration of the transitional experience of recent graduates, and not only did it allow me to be amongst the first to theorise and analyse such an under researched area, it also helped me personally, to feel less alone in my graduate struggles (even though I still had one foot in education).
I worked at a coffee shop whilst completing my thesis, and towards the end, when finalising my thesis, I took on a whole career change. I had been enquiring about work experience at my old college, wanting to put my knowledge of transitions and transitional support into practice. Unexpectedly, I was offered a full-time role as an Educational Support Assistant, working closely supporting young people with a range of learning disabilities and mental health issues.
It was incredibly difficult to take on full-time work at an already stressful time with finalising my thesis, and my first few months working there included a lot of breakdowns – having to work every day 8.30 – 4.30 only to come home and continue to work on my 25,000 word thesis. It perhaps wasn’t the smartest idea, but I wouldn’t change it. Because working there made me realise I want to go on to work as an Educational Psychologist – all going to plan!
In the time since handing in my thesis, I have been working on One Oh One, a project which came from my research. I spoke to so many graduates who shared so many experiences, so much advice, and I wanted to give that a place in the world. I wanted to use my research for good – the transition out of university is incredibly difficult. It’s filled with so many ups and downs, it’s not just about finding a job, it’s about being outside of your comfort blanket (education), moving back with parents after living independently, switching your identity from student to adult and all that encompasses. And of course, it’s about trying to find work in an already competitive market – and not just any job, a ‘proper’ job, because there’s such a stigma out there about what is a proper job for a graduate and what isn’t (and personally, I think that’s a load of bull, my work as a waitress was no less proper than my work at a university). You do you. I wanted graduates to feel less alone, at the time I began my research, there was so little academic research, and so little support within and outside of university, and it’s so exciting to see so many platforms popping up with the same hopes of mine (hello, The Irish Graduate!) and I love the idea that this community can support graduates in feeling like they are able to make the move and make it confidently.
Life after university is definitely a bumpy ride, but the biggest piece of advice, as cliche as it sounds, don’t compare yourself to other graduates. Your journey is your journey, whatever pace, or destination.
Make sure to stay up to date with Rebecca’s graduate journey and follow One Oh One.