An Open Letter: To My Friends Finishing Uni

We’ve made it through! Three long years apart, you’ve been away having the time of your lives and our journeys have taken very different paths but we made it, we’re still friends and the love never left.

You have no idea how happy this makes me; it’s been hard without you, it’s been hard going through different jobs and moving out on my own without other people going through the same struggles to talk about these things. There are some things I’ve learned in the past 3 years that I want to share with you that (I hope) will help you through the next few months (or maybe year)…

I’ll start at the first next-stage of your lives…

Finding A Job.

Job hunting isn’t easy, it isn’t fun and it certainly isn’t glamorous. My advice? Keep going and use who you know. You might apply for 10, 20, maybe even 50 jobs before you get called in for an interview and you might not even get that job. Don’t be disheartened, the jobs you don’t get weren’t meant for you. I truly believe that you’ll fall in to the perfect job for you at the time you take it. This doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it – far from it, but you will definitely learn things that you never knew before. I now know how NOT to be a manager, how making friends at work can be dangerous but can also create some of the strongest friendships you’ll ever have and how office/workplace gossip is the most annoying thing about work and how difficult it is to stay out of. Another top tip: sign up to recruitment agencies but don’t rely on them. A lot of companies don’t accept applications from recruitment agencies as it costs them a lot of money, you could miss out on the greatest opportunity of your life by relying on someone else to find a job for you!

Your First 6 Months

So you’ve found a new job? I am so happy for you! But here’s the kicker… you are going to be tired. You’ll be physically and emotionally exhausted and you’re going to wonder how it’s even possible to be this tired and surely you’ll get used to the hours and the work and once you’ve learned the ropes your brain won’t be so overloaded so you won’t be so tired any more. The weariness doesn’t go away, but you do get used to it. I understand that you’ll be tired for the first 6 months or so and you won’t be out as much as you thought because you ‘need to sort my sleeping pattern’ or ‘had a long day and I’m exhausted’. I understand this because I’ve been through it and I know one day you’ll think, just like I did, ‘I can’t let being tired keep me from my personal and social life, suck it up and get out and see people’. Take the time you need to settle in to your new routine but don’t let work take over your personal or social life because you deserve a life outside your job. I’ll be waiting for you whenever you’re ready.

Work Is To Make Money, Not Friends

Likewise with being tired all the time, one of the biggest mistakes I have made in the workplace is entering it with the wrong attitude. I tried to get everyone to like me, I wanted everyone to be my friend and I never wanted anyone in the office/shop/branch to have a reason to b*tch about me behind my back. Now I realise how impossible this is and I go in to work to make money, not friends. I have you guys for friendship – I don’t need any more friends!

Strangely enough, this new attitude has honestly created some great unintended friendships and sometimes those are the best kind. I haven’t heard any office whispers about someone saying something behind my back and people always seem perfectly happy to say anything they have an issue with to my face because they know I’m not going to take it the wrong way. Go to work, be yourself, establish boundaries but don’t try to make friends – you’re all fantastic people and you’ll make genuine friends anyway.

The Workplace Is Not As Accepting As University

One of the things I think I really missed out on by not going to University is the social movements. Feminism, equal rights for the LGBTQA community, tuition fee protests etc are all amazing social movements headed up by University students. The truth is though, in the workplace you’re going to face some pretty bad comments and judgement… and there isn’t much you can do about it. Although I try to call people out where I can, sexism is a real issue in the workplace and for some people it’s so ingrained that they don’t even realise they are doing it. Social movements are great at University but don’t place your job under threat over someone else’s misplaced comment.

Sexism isn’t the only issue in today’s workplace. Ageism is a real issue that every single one of you will face. A lot of people in managerial positions have spent years climbing the ladder and they aren’t going to offer high paying jobs to someone fresh from the clutches of Uni. Sometimes you have to sit it out and watch the bloke who can’t even send an email get a promotion over you just because he’s been there the longest. Get over it, your time will come and if it bothers you then speak to whoever represents your HR department… or you can vent to me!

Speak to HR (or your union rep)

Whether it’s a small company or a large company there should be a HR(or union) representative available for you to speak to if you have any issues. These people are literally company geniuses; they will know almost every (if not all) policies the company has or where to find them and they also will know the rest of the staff and how they will react to certain circumstances. If you aren’t sure of something or someone has made you uncomfortable in the workplace speak to HR or your union rep. Never be afraid to speak to the people representing you, they are there to help and I have never met a union rep or anyone from HR who didn’t have my best interests at heart and who wasn’t sincere and willing to say something bluntly to me or to any offenders.  I’ve quit jobs because I was unhappy but I never went through the right channels to resolve the issues before they reached a point I couldn’t deal with them any more. Don’t make the same mistakes I have, when you join your new company, take note of who’s in charge of your welfare and talk to them when the issues arise, don’t let them build to a point you can no longer cope with them.

Don’t Let Anyone Make You Do Something You’re Uncomfortable With

Take this one with a pinch of salt because, ocassionally, you’ll have to do things you don’t want to do to get the job done. There will always be aspects of your job that you don’t like, whether it’s paperwork, call outs or whatever is relevant to your field. However, if someone asks you to do something that you morally do not agree with, do not do it. If you feel under threat of your job, speak to HR/your union rep. If you’re in a tiny company and you don’t have anyone to speak to or are worried you’ll get in trouble if you speak to anyone then PLEASE let me know what’s going on. There are external sources that can help you such as the Citizens Advice Bureau but there might be much easier ways to deal with things that you haven’t thought of. Just as I use your knowledge of the best clubs to hit up in your Uni towns, feel free to use my knowledge and experiences in the workplace.

Some of this might sound like common sense, but you’ll be surprised how the work place can change your attitude towards a lot of things and how difficult it can be to speak up at work. You’re all lovely, strong, incredible, intelligent, beautiful people and I am so proud of you all for the hard work and dedication you’ve put in to your degrees. Your results are testament to the work you’ve put in but I also know you’ve had the chance to party and have fun too! Things are going to change now and I want you to feel comfortable asking me anything you want to with no judgement and complete understanding along with the sometimes very blunt truths I can offer.

This letter comes with a multitude of love and affection and hope for the future and I’m excited for us to grow, learn, love and live together.

Mostly though, I’m just really glad to have you all home again.

So much love you don’t even understand,

Tilly xo