Full-time work. Moving to a new city. Living in a house with strangers. Starting a new job. Fear of the unknown. Landing my dream job in PR.
Last June before moving to London, I had a lot of things to look forward to, but I also had a lot of things to be fearful of. Most of which are listed above. I know the way I have spoken about my placement year on my blog has been mostly positive and if it were to look like a graph, it would look something like this:
But has my year been on a straight upward spike for the entire year? Absolutely not. There have been many highs but of course, there have been many lows. It wouldn’t be fair to lie and paint the entire year as rainbows and roses and it wouldn’t be a true representation of the year that I’ve had.
One of the first lows I experienced was moving to London and not knowing a single person in the city. How was I going to make friends? Was I going to have to join a club? I didn’t play sports anymore and I doubted there was an Irish Club that met up on a weekly basis for a drink. Looking back, maybe I should have started one. I knew I had to make friends or it was going to be a very lonely year.
On the plus side, one of the highs of the year was how close all of the interns became. The weekends we were free we spent together and explored the city a little bit more. I’m so glad to have met all of them and they are all truly friends for life. I also had a lot of my friends over visiting, as well as my family and even some of my friends visited twice. I rarely went home to Ireland but I did spend quite a few weekends back in Liverpool.
Of course there were times that I did feel lonely, but even in Liverpool when I was surrounded by tons of friends, there were still times that I felt lonely and homesick. Everyone does. In London I tried to keep myself as busy as I could with my blog, the gym, planning my months in advance and always having something to look forward to.
One of the highs of the whole year was having London on my doorstep. You could never say there wasn’t anything to do. Every weekend had to be spent wisely, exploring a different part of the city, a new bar or restaurant, a new museum or a new pop-up that had opened up. I made myself a Bucket List so that I would make myself see and do as much as possible. It was always my dream to live in London and I never expected to be doing so at 20 years of age, but here I was. I had to make the most of it. Although now I’ve lived in London for one year, I feel like I want a bigger challenge and I want to experience living in another huge city once I graduate.
Something I found quite difficult to adapt to was the change of social life. I was so used to spending every weekend in Liverpool staying out until 5am and sleeping in until late afternoons. It wasn’t great for my liver, but it was a student city and it was basically the norm. I soon learnt (to my dismay) that there isn’t a big drinking culture in London. Residents of the city much rather have a few drinks during the day, and then call it a night and spend the evening at home. Or they’ll spend a full day exploring a new part of the city, hitting up a market and a show and then by the evening they are exhausted before even considering the idea of partying. It was a little bit tough to adapt to this new sober-ish way of life, but my liver definitely didn’t complain.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of fun nights out to be had during my year in London, it’s just there wasn’t as many as I thought there would be. But the nights out that I did have greatly made up for this on quality. I mean, I would choose the BRIT Awards party over five weekends in McCooleys any time. Wow, did I just say that? The nights out I had in London were once in a lifetime events that I may never get the chance to go to again. But did I still miss McCooleys and The Raz and Popworld? A lot more than I thought I would. Especially Popworld. And I hate Popworld.
Another low I experienced was being extremely homesick for Liverpool. When it came to the end of my second year of university, I was quite bored of Liverpool. I had seen and done everything and felt I had gotten everything I could from the city. I was definitely ready to leave and experience something new. But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and you don’t realise what you had until it’s gone. I’ve written many a post about my love for Liverpool and how this year, being away from it, has made me realise just how amazing a city it is and how much it feels like home to me. For that reason I can’t wait to finish in London and return home to Liverpool next week, but of course I will still miss London and everything that it has given me.
A high of placement year was being confident that the career I had chosen for myself was the right one and that I couldn’t have picked a better suiting university course for myself or landed a more amazing placement. I’m extremely lucky and am still so grateful that I was given this opportunity. I know now after working in the PR industry that I have always envisioned myself working in, that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I also think I’m lucky in that I have realised this so young in my career and I’m able to go forward and pursue the career path that I want to follow.
Not everyone can say they love their job, but I honestly wake every day excited to go into work and (this is no lie) even when I find myself a little bit bored or sat in on weekends, I’m itching to do more PR work. I just really hope this passion stays with me for a long time and that I’ll be lucky enough in the future to do PR for brands that I’m passionate about and have a genuine interest in.
Another low that I experienced was very weirdly, having people come up to me at home or message me saying ‘You’re living the dream,’ ‘I’m so jealous of your life,’ ‘Your job is amazing!’ Even people that I had never spoken to before in my life would come up to me in the street and say these things. Of course my life may look glamorous and quite cool through a lens on Instagram but this was only a very odd time when I went to an event, or a party or an awards show. They didn’t see me unboxing hundreds of products, bagging up send-outs, sifting through magazines, running up and down flights of stairs posting things out or trawling Instagram looking for the next up and coming influencers. They also didn’t see me when I was going through the phases of being lonely, or feeling down or being homesick. They only saw what I posted on social media. But that’s a wholeeeeeee other blog post. The reality of social media – is there any reality left in it?
I’m not being ungrateful or anything, it may be that it’s my fault for only posting the good things on Instagram but I don’t want to share every moment of my personal life with 2,000 people. No thank you. But don’t get me wrong, there were times when even I would have said, ‘Wow, life feels pretty amazing right now,’ like that moment Ed Westwick walked into the Nasty Gal store (you’re never going to hear the end of this, sorry) and these were usually the times I was at glam events or movie premieres or among celebrities. It’s just, no one’s life is perfect.
One of the extreme highs of my placement year would obviously have to be the events that I was able to attend. I’m not going to go too much into it as the majority all have their own separate blog posts on here that you can read through. This placement year has provided me with so many opportunities and let me create so many special memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life, without a doubt. I did feel like I was living a dream this entire year and I’m gutted that I have to wake up in two days time. But hopefully I’ll be back and I’ll bump into a few old colleagues at similar events in the future.
Another high of placement year would be the amount of confidence I have gained since starting. I have no problems picking up the phone to someone. No problem making small talk with someone I don’t know. No problem going up to someone and asking a question. I’m no longer afraid of my own voice and I don’t get awkward any time I have to speak in front of a small or large crowd. There’s not much that phases me any more. I can walk around the streets of London on my own without a care in the world. It’s one of my favourite things to do.
Another thing I have gained confidence with is my capabilities. A few years ago, if you had asked me if I ever saw myself working for Gucci or Calvin Klein or Burberry, I would have laughed in your face. A girl like me? From a small town like Lurgan? Catch yourself on. But I’ve proved to myself that I can and anyone else that was in the same position as me can also do it. This has given me the confidence to not shy away from job opportunities further down the line if they come up for big companies or brands. I can do it and I know I can do it well. Why shouldn’t I work for brands like these?
A low I faced this year was probably the monotonous routine of the 9-5 job, five days a week. Being completely honest, I think in a few years time, the 9-5 working week will have changed because of Millennials and Generation Z’s way of working and the fact that they don’t seem to stay in jobs any longer than two years. Our generations are all about bettering ourselves and TED Talks and mindset books. We’re not going to settle for mundane jobs that are the same for the rest of our lives. We want to be challenged but we also want to enjoy life by travelling and not having to plan our lives around our 25 day holiday allowance.
If I was able to structure my own working week around how I worked best, I really think I would have a better quality of life because of it. I know myself that I work best at nighttime. 99% of the blog posts I write are published in the wee hours of the morning. I hand in university essays at 4am. I would much rather use the day time to go to the gym, have me-time and do the things that I need to, then work in the evenings. Whether the 9-5 routine starts to change in years to come, time will tell.
A most memorable high of my placement year has been the people that I’ve worked with. I’ve met so many amazing people, made friends for life and made connections with people I know have an amazing career ahead of them. I can’t wait to follow everyone’s career journeys and see what the world has in store for them in the future. Especially with the interns. I hope we all keep in touch in the future and cross paths again some time. I’m also excited for the new interns who are just about to embark on what may be the best year of their lives. I feel so lucky to have been a part of such an amazing and supportive team who I have learnt so much from and I will definitely be keeping in touch for as long as I possibly can.
So there you have it. As much as I try to make everything look as positive and happy as I possibly can, there’s no hiding the reality; that we are all faced with lows no matter what career you are in or how much you love your job. Looking back on my placement year as a whole, of course I’m reminded of it as a constant high, but it’s the low points that enable me to grow and develop as a person and helped mold me into the mature young working adult that I only have two days left of being. Not long until I can go back to calling myself a student again!