Hello and welcome to a new series! Yes, another one. If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember I interviewed a lot of students on various placements around this time last year. Now that they’re all back at university and almost ready to face the big, bad world of life after graduation, I thought it a good idea to check back in with them.
This series is going to re-visit the past interviewees and see how they’re getting on, their thoughts on final year, plans for the future and what they make of the Diss.
What I’m most hoping for is that they’re all as clueless as I am when it comes to plans for the future – but that may not be the case. So stay tuned for further interviews with all of the final years and in the mean time, you can check out their placement interviews here.
My ninth interviewee to talk about #FinalYearFear is Alice Jeavons who was my side-kick at Coty during our placement year where she was the Marketing Assistant for Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs. The most career-driven person I know, I don’t know how I’ve lasted these 10 months without her after spending nearly every day together a year ago. If you wish to read about her amazing placement year where she was my plus one to just about every event and got embarrassed by how star-struck I always was, you can read that here.
Alice is in her final year of the Management with Marketing Bsc Hons degree at the University of Bath, graduating this summer.
Orlagh: Hey babe, how are things with you? How are you finding final year at the minute?
Alice: Having just finished final exams, I feel elated and relieved, but still a little anxious. Final year has been my best year at university in so many ways, but these final weeks of exam revision have been the most stressful. Balancing priorities of academia and social life has constantly been a challenge this year; now I’m glad to focus my last few weeks in Bath on the latter.
Have you noticed much of a difference between final year and your first two years at uni? Is there a lot more pressure and work to do?
Alice: I’ve found that lecturers grade assignments and presentations noticeably harsher. There’s also an obvious pressure from my university to secure a graduate job. Final year has taught me to manage the considerable stress those pressures trigger and balance them with being social. I’ve even learned to schedule hangovers into my Google calendar, so that I maintain some kind of balance.
How have you found transitioning back to university life after placement?
Alice: I find that the contrast between working full-time really makes you appreciate the flexibility of university. You can pick when and what you prioritize, whether that’s a brunch with friends or an all-nighter in the library. While I undeniably avoid the latter, the control you have over every moment makes you more accountable for your own time, and makes you spend it in the best way possible.
Now that you’ve experienced life in the corporate world, are you excited to go back or sad to leave university behind?
Alice: I definitely won’t miss the academia side of university and lack of weekends due to the continuous demands of coursework. But I will be very sad to leave the spontaneous lifestyle that student life permits. Never again will I be so close to all of my friends, and I don’t think I’ll ever appreciate that enough.
Have you had to write a dissertation this year? How’s that going?
Alice: Luckily no! My course doesn’t require a dissertation, just five modules per semester.
“For a long time, I feared failure to find a job immediately after graduation… I realise now that there’s nothing to fear. If you’ve surrounded yourself with a strong support network of friends and family, you will eventually find your way to finding the right job and living your best life.”
THE FUTURE AWAITS
What are your plans for the future? Have you secured a job/grad scheme? Are you planning to travel? Masters?
Alice: I’ve secured a graduate scheme with Mars, which is due to start in September. After I graduate in July I’m traveling to Japan, Borneo then Bali with one of my housemates. Hopefully that will feel like a holiday enough for me to properly settle down into adult life afterwards.
How did you find the application process for the grad scheme?
I applied to Mars on a whim, as I felt anxious that I hadn’t made any effort towards finding a job. The application process itself was long and strenuous – online application, psychometric tests, digital interview, Skype interview then assessment centre.
My process actually began in October at an ‘Evening with Mars’ dinner at my university where I met a lot of graduates who were willing to help me with my application. I’d really recommend attending recruitment fairs or talks or dinners like these, as you could really make valuable contacts.
Graduate schemes like Mars’ are great because they usually let you rotate around different roles and divisions within the company. Knowing how much I enjoyed and learned through my year in Marketing at Coty, this scheme will essentially be three more year-long experiences which will teach me so many different skills.
While commitment to a graduate scheme may seem intimidating, especially if you’re not 100% sure it’s the right field for you, I see it as building the foundation for what will likely be a 40-year career. For me, now is the time to develop a broad set of skills and experiences across functions, so that my career can later progress in whichever industry I wish.
Where do you see yourself in 12 months time? What do you hope to have achieved by then and where would you like to be?
Alice: In 12 months I will still be on the Mars graduate scheme, having just finished my first rotation. Hopefully I will have enjoyed my first year and established a great network of friends and colleagues. At that point I will be picking my next rotation, perhaps in Sales, HR or Sourcing, which will be an exciting and challenging prospect.
What’s the number one highlight of your entire university experience and why?
Alice: The highlight of my university experience has been making a huge network of friends, course mates and even lecturers. I truly believe that these connections are more valuable than getting a top grade academically.
After university, friends will disperse in all directions, industries, functions and countries, but they’ll always be a message away if you need advice or help. Whether that help is career-related, travel-related or personal advice – a real friend will always be ready and willing.
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to after graduating?
Alice: The rest of my life! I very much feel that I am closing a significant chapter on my life and am excited to see what life holds. Coming to the end of university has made me adopt a wider perspective on life, rather than focusing on the small details that could stress or worry me.
I’m excited, and slightly nervous, to start a new life in a new city and job, meeting so many new people and adapting myself to a new situation. Within the next few months though, I’m looking forward to focusing my efforts on non-academic pursuits and finally having time to revisit hobbies that I disregarded once starting university. I’m also hugely looking forward to traveling, which should satisfy my wanderlust before I settle down into my new job.
What’s one thing you’re fearing about life after graduation?
Alice: For a long time, I feared failure to find a job immediately after graduation. To settle that anxiousness, I applied for and accepted my graduate scheme at Mars. However, from my privileged position, I realise now that there’s nothing to fear. If you’ve surrounded yourself with a strong support network of friends and family, you will eventually find your way to finding the right job and living your best life.