AIBU to feel like a complete failure since graduating

(53 Posts)
guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 18:34:19

I graduated from uni in June 2011 and ever since then feel completely lost. My degree was my focus and I gave it my all and graduated with a first. However, I studied the wrong subject- a creative one. I realised I do not want to go into that industry and I didn't have any luck when applying for jobs anyway.

Since graduating I have been changing my mind on a monthly basis about what to do with my life, I am on a masters doing something I would like to work in but the job prospects are utterly miserable (if I google 'job vacancies' in this area not a single one comes up for the UK, very specialist). The MA is 3 years long, I'm about 7 months in and although it is interesting, I just don't think the opportunities are there.

I am working in a very low paid position, term time only so have barely any money. I still live at home, have a young dc with no chance of moving out. I have an interview for a pgce coming up, but highly doubt I will get on as it's at a very competitive uni but the only one I can get to. I don't even know if I want to teach, it just seems like the only option. I have also been thinking a lot about a degree in nursing, but that's another 3 years of studying and I have a dc to support.

I'm so bitter than I have worked so hard but made all the wrong choices, I wish I'd studied something more academic. Everywhere I look I see people my age in good positions getting decent wages and I am so jealous.

AnnoyedAtWork Wed 21-Nov-12 18:38:20

I think you need to do more research on what you actually want to do. Have you thought about applying to a corporate graduate programme? A lot of them don't require specific degrees and if you are not sure about what you want to do then at least you would earn decent money and be able to move out? Have you asked for help with your CV? I know how easy it is to get disheartened I was applying for jobs for ages and it really got me down.
What about TeachFirst? Then you are not committed to teaching and get exposure to lots of businesses who are looking to hire.

PeppermintLatte Wed 21-Nov-12 18:38:27

I really feel for you, i'm in a slightly similar position. Don't ever feel like a failure, you've achieved something amazing. It doesn't seem like it now, but it'll all work out one day. I'm so sorry i don't have any advice, i can't even advise myself.

Do you mind me asking how old you are, OP?

MissCellania Wed 21-Nov-12 18:40:06

I have to ask, if you picked the wrong degree with no prospects, why did you then go pick a different masters also with no prospects? Wouldn't that have been a sensible time to focus on doing something that would actually get you a job?

No point being bitter and jealous, you made your own decisions and you need to accept that and work out where to go from here. Ditch the 3 year (!) MA for a start off and look for a job instead.

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 18:44:22

I'm 23, and can just visualise my 20s being eaten away by uncertainty and crap pay. I'm wishing time away and it's ridiculous these should be the best years of my life! I did look at teachfirst, the problem is I'm not very confident/public speaking terrifies me, so I don't think I'd get far.

I'm not sure who I could get to look at my CV, I guess the problem is I don't know what I want to tailor it towards iyswim. I'm currently doing 3 different voluntary placements, 2 to help towards the pgce and the other for my MA subject all because I can't decide what to do.

I feel like I am having a complete quarter life crisis. All my friends seem to be doing so well and I'm the lowest paid/least successful. I guess the biggest problem is I really don't want to go into the industry I am qualified for. I'm so angry with myself for doing the degree I did!

NoraGainesborough Wed 21-Nov-12 18:46:38

What is bring bitter or jealous adding to your life?

As you have said, its your decisions that have led you here.

What research did you do into jobs before picking your masters?

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 18:47:06

My degree subject does have prospects- in theory. There are a lot of jobs, but none I had any luck with. I don't have the massively confident and cut throat attitude needed from the industry, it took me some time to work this out.

Regarding the MA- it's something I really wanted to do, that I thought I'd be good at. Since starting the course, I have realised just how bleak the future in it seems to be.

AnnoyedAtWork Wed 21-Nov-12 18:53:51

If I were you I'd drop the MA and do TeachFirst or something like that. There is no point studying for three more years when you know you won't be working in that field and anyway postgrad study doesn't generally improve your prospects that much ( I mean look at the cost benefit ratio of it )

Also I don't wish to sound rude but you would be doing yourself a favour if you adopted a more proactive approach rather than saying "poor me". You recognise that maybe done of your decisions were not ideal, so be brave enough to start changing things now

saadia Wed 21-Nov-12 18:58:33

op sorry if I sound patronising but you are so young with so much ahead of you but I think lack of confidence is holding you back. Sounds as though with your placements and job and study you are getting a whole range of experience. What came across to me is that you enjoy studying and your interest is in your MA, are there any other jobs connected to this that you could explore or could you do further study (Phd) in this area?

I would recommend that you seek careers advice, your Uni should be able to help with this, Good luck and look at your career as a long game, it doesn't all have to happen immediately but try to have a plan.

pmcblonde Wed 21-Nov-12 18:59:48

Go and talk to the Careers Service at your University. There's not a lot of point in being angry about your past decisions. You need to identify your transferable skills, learn about sectors that you're actually interested in and use the Careers Service to help with your CV, networking, internships etc etc etc

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:08:13

Thank you for your replies. The MA I am doing is art psychotherapy, so it isn't a career you can enter without the MA- there is no degree in this subject.

I have been applying for lots of primary school TA jobs, to get the experience that would either rule out or confirm this is the right career for me. I haven't heard back from a single one- rang them for feedback on my application but they all informed me as I wasn't shortlisted, they wouldn't give feedback. It took me 2 months to even get voluntary work in a primary school and now I have, it's only because my dc attends the school in question.

ImperialBlether Wed 21-Nov-12 19:13:28

Oh I can help here! My daughter was in exactly the same situation as you and is studying an MA now, too.

She went back to the university careers people and they were really helpful. They helped her to completely rewrite her cv and to have several cvs, too, that you use for different types of jobs. Hers is completely different now to how it was before.

I agree about the graduate training programmes. You're well in time to be applying for next year. You've a first which is incredible - do you realise how few people get them? My daughter was invited to apply for an MBA at her university on the basis of her first - is there anything like that running at your university?

Please don't go straight into teaching! (I'm a teacher.) Get some experience elsewhere first. It's a draining job with few opportunities and although there are good times to be had, it's no life for a 23 year old! Aim high. Go for something that will really challenge you and bring back that focus you had.

NoraGainesborough Wed 21-Nov-12 19:15:48

Picking a MA because you think you will enjoy it, is perfectly fine.

But you yabu to moan it has no propects if you don't look into that until after. Studying because its intrests you is fine. But you can't really moan because it does have prospects. That's not why you chose it. Iyswim.

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:16:30

Thank you so much for your post ImperialBlether. At the risk of sounding totalling idiotic, can I ask what is an MBA? The thing is when I am really focused on something I do well, it's all this uncertainty that is holding me back. I will be arranging an appointment with the careers advisors tomorrow!

NoraGainesborough Wed 21-Nov-12 19:16:46

doesn't have prospects

MadeInChinaBaby Wed 21-Nov-12 19:17:43

I feel for you, I really do, having been in a similar situation at your age.

You say that you don't think you have the confidence or the public speaking skills for TeachFirst; it was through teaching that I gained both of these things and worked out what I wanted to move on to. Give it some more thought.

SunflowersSmile Wed 21-Nov-12 19:18:08

Try not to panic. First do you want to carry on with your MA? If you do you have plenty of time to explore options re related career [or otherwise].
Don't see your volunteer stuff as a waste of time- you are experiencing new things and it is all part of finding out where you want to go.
Are you happy with TA post? Great experience for lots of things and as you say- term time working- gold dust!
Try not to compare with others [hard I know. I MUST not google university contempories!!].
Be kind to yourself and... breathe...
A first- brilliant.
You are young and clever and achieved so much and have a child- a lot to be proud of.
I am twice your age and envious of the future you will have.
Good luck.

I had a fab degree from uni (good degree, good uni) thought I would find a job, and didn't. I applied for so many graduate jobs it was silly. Finally I ended up in a bedsit, got a job with in house training but also had a small kid. I qualified, but never earned much and felt like a total failure. However, I found, in my late thirties, the perfect job and now I love my work. It is nothing to do with my degree at all.
There is hope. Keep working, and take any training possible. Work in a supermarket and go for training - supervisor, then manager etc. Or apply for a jnr role with an accountants. You need a springboard, that's all.

AlexanderS Wed 21-Nov-12 19:31:22

An MBA is a Masters in Business Administration - needed if you want to be a high-flying business type (most MBAs expect you to have experience of working in business).

Graduates can now do a 2-year accelerated course to qualify as a nurse.

Have got to go put my little boy to bed but will be back.

mummmsy Wed 21-Nov-12 19:34:52

utterly sympathetic - just got my PhD with small child in tow and I'm sad too, feeling totally unemployable

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:35:55

Wow, how do I find out about the nursing programme? Very interested in that! I see a TA post as a stepping stone, it's pretty much what I'm doing for my employment at the moment but in a college and I hate it. I keep thinking there must be more to life than this. I recognise the careers I am interested in- nursing/art therapy/teaching are all working to help people in some way. This is definitely the route I want to go down, but I'm unsure of which exact path.

DuddlePuck Wed 21-Nov-12 19:44:04

Totally sympathise. I did a degree in a combination of -ologies and realsied that I didn't want to follow up one and the prospects were few and far between for the other. Hence several years of bar work... hmm

DO NOT go into teaching if you are in anyway unsure. It's bloody hard work and if you do decide you don't like it, it is yet another year (two to complete NQT) 'wasted' (though no experience is truly wasted it sounds like you are keen to start a career now.). I speak from experience.

I have just realised that I will be most fulfilled by taking on a variety of roles, supported by my amazingly understanding husband and using my teaching qualification to keep us afloat by doing supply work.

It is uncertain, but i know I will ultimately be happier. The only issue facing us now is financial security as we think about starting a family.

Ask yourself what you would really like to do - in a perfect world where your dreams can all come true. Be honest about how realistic it is, but at least aim for something near (even if it means a few years stacking shelves waiting for the right opportunity to come along).

I really do sympathise, it must be so much harder with a little one to support too. What if your support network like? Any DP/Parents who could help you out?

pmcblonde Wed 21-Nov-12 19:45:22

If you want to see whether you'd enjoy teaching contact some schools and ask if they can give you a day of classroom experience. They are used to doing it and some will help you out. You will about 10 days of school based experience to get onto a decent PGCE. You might also be able to retrain to teach an at risk subject - with a first class degree you'd get a £20k PGCE bursary for an at risk subject group.

You could also see if any schools are doing School Direct which is a new route into teaching that's completely school based. You can get this information from the Training Agency.

You really need to identify what you want to do so straight to the Careers Service for a chat and a CV review.

DuddlePuck Wed 21-Nov-12 19:46:56

Sorry, just re-read and you are living at home.

If nursing is what you want to do, then go for it... you are only young, think of all the years you have ahead of you after just two or three more years of training. If it's something you love, then it is so worth it.

Good luck smile

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:50:47

My parents are incredibly supportive, I am living with them and they help me out considerably with childcare- I would never have managed to get my degree without their support and I will be eternally grateful for that opportunity. However I am itching to support my dc myself, move out and provide for him on my own. I need a salary first though!

complexnumber Wed 21-Nov-12 19:55:09

You are 23, and it's all about you... (that's very normal, I was the same)

You can google all the other info you need about nursing etc.

Becoming a nurse is a HUGE decision, and will imact upon every detail of your life. (That is if my mum's working career is typical)

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:56:30

I have an A-level in French (was doing it at uni until I became pregnant, only got a few months into the course), I'm not sure if the A level alone would allow me to specialise in a MFL PGCE but I know there is a 20K bursary for it. Any one know?

scottishmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 20:00:40

congratulations on your academic achievements
art therapy career has dreadful prospects, jobs hard to obtain,too may grads.but the career prospects in art therapy are v poor

and psychotherapy long,costly and independently funded
if you want to use art as a medium why not consider occupational therapy, they do art and craft groups as part of OT?Can do as a 2yr grad course.I know the OT training is broad and they work physical,mh, and local authority. The primary thing in ot isn't the art groups at all.but there is some opportunity to use art and craft

OT as a postgrad

Nursing as postgrad can be completed in 2 years

FantasticMax Wed 21-Nov-12 20:01:10

I feel for you as I was in a similar position and struggled to get anywhere with my BA degree. I ended up temping and managed to get my foot in the door of a fairly prestigious company. But it still took around 3 years of seriously hard graft and proving myself before I considered myself in a 'graduate' job with a respectable salary. What I do now is a million miles away from my degree though - but the money is good and I'm happy with how things turned out.

My advice would be to think long and hard of the merits of completing the masters - though I would possibly at least complete the year. It does sound very niche. What are your fellow students' plans after graduation? Think about what you really want and if further study is not an option, be prepared to work your way up from the bottom - it can be done.

Good luck.

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:05:57

For the OT training and Nursing post grad wouldn't my degree have to be health related?

scottishmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 20:11:34

youd need to approch the individual uni,but not necessarily as they are conversion courses

what is important is understanding of what the respective jobs involve, visit depts and meet staff

obviously with nursing you'd need to chose specialism eg Adult, paeds, MH
OT is generic training you can specialise on qualification

obviously nursing would involve shifts and work public holidays

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:16:17

If I complete 1 more module of my MA, I think I'd then have a diploma in Art Therapy, so wouldn't be walking away empty handed and may make me more likely to get onto an accelerated health related course? I live in the North West of the country, which always seems to lack opportunities re courses. I guess half my problem is I don't even know where to start looking!

scottishmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 20:19:12

so stop gurning on mn! google graduate coyrses in OT, Nursing
time to stop all the what ifs and put some graft into lookin for courses
chose a course with prospects and good luck

complexnumber Wed 21-Nov-12 20:22:14

I'm not sure if the A level alone would allow me to specialise in a MFL PGCE but I know there is a 20K bursary for it. Any one know

I would hate you if you made any decision about being a teacher based upon the bursary alone

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:23:08

I had a look on the NHS careers website and the only short course available anywhere near me is in midwifery confused

scottishmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 20:26:14

go google.there are lots OT and nursing Post grads

scottishmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 20:38:13
scottishmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 20:41:44
guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:44:12

Thank you scottishmummy I will check these out!

scottishmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 20:46:20

good luck you have considerable achievement already,just need a break
hope it works out
be realistic and know what these careers entail

dontcallmehon Wed 21-Nov-12 20:48:53

I was the same as you at a similar age. Went into teaching. Hated it. Ended up trapped for ten years! I have left now, thank God, but still only have a vague idea of what I want to do. Teaching is not a career to go into halfheartedly, particularly if you lack confidence.

AlexanderS Wed 21-Nov-12 20:52:07

No, you don't need a related degree for either OT or nursing postgrad.

You wouldn't be able to do an MFL PGCE with A level French, you need at least a Joint Honours either in the subject you want to teach or a closely related one (for example, I read on here about somebody who did an English PGCE with a degree in Journalism (and one Open University module in English)). But is teaching French what you really want to do i.e. can you say you have a love of French? It sounds like you are panicking a bit, and suffering from what somebody wise once called 'the tyranny of should'. You are thinking about all the things as a graduate with a first you "should" be doing rather than thinking about what you want to do.

You are enjoying your Masters. For that reason alone I would not give it up if I was you. Life is about more than just work and prospects. Also dropping out makes you feel like a loser (trust me, I know only too well - I've dropped out of three undergraduate courses) and doesn't look good on your CV regardless of what you on to do and whether or not it is connected to your course (you want to look like somebody who finishes what they start).

Just after I (finally) graduated somebody gave me some excellent advice. He said you have to get yourself established in a career within three years of finishing university. If you don't do it in that time you never will (unless you go back to uni and do further study). I have seen this to be the case amongst my friends and acquaintances. Before you panic even more, this means you have until three years after finishing your Masters to get yourself sorted so you have plenty of time.

I get that you are impatient to move out of your parents' house. I'm sure you will get a job as a primary school TA once you have got more experience under your belt through your voluntary placement (teaching assisting is surprisingly competitive) and hopefully that will allow you to decide whether or not teaching is for you as well as enabling you to move out of your parents' house.

Like other people have said, don't compare yourself to other people, that way only unhappiness lies! I watched all my friends leave university and get good jobs but that was because they'd all done vocational courses like law, education and social work, unlike me (I did politics). I figure I'll do a postgrad vocational qualification at some point and catch them up, just like you'll be able to once you've finished your Masters and worked out what you want to do.

splintersinmebum Wed 21-Nov-12 20:53:44

Are you in healthcare, Scottish mummy?

AlexanderS Wed 21-Nov-12 20:55:51

N.B. Some postgrad nursing courses are for nurses who are already qualified, like that short course in midwifery you found. Make sure you are looking at pre-registration courses.

AlexanderS Wed 21-Nov-12 20:57:29

There are no acccelerated courses in midwifery, unless you are already a qualified nurse, you see.

You sound like me 10 yrs ago! I finished a degree in graphic design with a 1st (I assume from your post you have done an art degree?) I did not have the confidence/personality/passion/interest to become a graphic designer - I knew this by the 2nd yr of my degree but my tutors encouraged me to complete my degree- and I'm glad I did.

After graduating I did some temping and hated working a desk job (I wanted to be creative). I considered teaching but was worried my shyness at doing presentations etc would prevent this. I spent a few days in an art class at a local secondary school and really enjoyed it. I applied for a PGCE at a prestigious London uni and was shocked when I actually got on the course! It was the toughest and most enjoyable year of my life. I worked in an inner city comp with some great kids- it did wonders for my confidence to see them respond to me and produce their best work. I have been an art teacher ever since- I love it. Like you I was living with my parents.

Do some work experience, go for the PGCE interview (mine was terrible but I still got in the course- they must've read between the lines!) on the course it was said that if you get past Xmas you will make it! So only one term to waste to find out if its for you.

10 years later, I'm still a teacher. I love it and wouldn't change it for the world. I understand that the economic world is different now. It must be tough coming out of education and being faced with that. Your 1st will really help you stand infront if the rest. Try to get someone to have a look at your cv. Best if luck!

Phineyj Wed 21-Nov-12 21:38:38

Have you thought of becoming a play specialist in a hospital? It is just about the only role akin to arts therapy that there are paid roles in.

I did exactly the same. Graduated in June 2011 with a first in graphic design. Am still umming and ahhing about what I want to do. I have looked at all sorts of jobs but the ones that I am enthusiastic about are usually connected with animals in some way.

I don't have the massively confident and cut throat attitude needed from the industry I could have written your post.
I would still be interested in illustration type jobs but these are rare and I would need to revamp all my portfolio.

My life has been put on hold for a bit as my dad died on Saturday and I am sorting the funeral, finances and then clearing his house, so it will be a couple of months till I catch up with it all.

Good luck deciding what you'd like to do. This thread has been very interesting to read, as I thought people would think I was mad not to continue with design. I am however quite a bit older than you and haven't worked for quite a while.

guccigirl666 Wed 21-Nov-12 22:02:14

My degree is also in graphic design! YouveCatToBeKittenMe so sorry to hear about your dad. I think people also see me as crazy for not wanting to continue with design, but as I said my personality doesn't suit it, plus I hate how web orientated it all is. Everyone else on my course is desperate to 'make it' in graphic design- and the irony is I'm the only one who got a first on the course! But my heart isn't in it. Play therapy is interesting but I'm unsure of the career prospects again.

AlexanderS thank you for some really thought provoking input, 'the tyranny of should' is a very relevant concept here.

deste Wed 21-Nov-12 22:22:32

I was a Computer graphic designer and I ended up teaching the subject at college. I loved every minute of it. If you do the PGCE it's for a very short time to get a qualification you can use, perhaps not now but something you could go back to.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Wed 21-Nov-12 22:34:14

You don't have to continue studying in that subject area. Stop and take stock. What do you really want to do? Then go for it.

AlexanderS Fri 30-Nov-12 11:24:07

How you getting on OP?

blanksquit Fri 30-Nov-12 11:37:11

Have you looked at health courses that give NHS bursaries? ODP is one and I think has similarities to nursing. It's a two year course so not too bad. The practice shifts might be long but if you have help at home it may be feasible. If you look at the NHS jobs website you can guage how much work there is. In our area, ODPs are quite sought after.

They used to offer diplomas in nursing which came with a bursary. I don't know if these are still on offer. You can upgrade to the degree level later on in your own time.

The bursary is around £8k per annum I think and all fees are paid. Quite a lot of the nursing students where I worked, enrolled as a bank health care assistant and earnt extra money doing the odd shift.


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