So I had been umm-ing and ahh-ing for weeks as to what the contents of my next blog post should be. I realized that I had left it for a while, and that’s always quite daunting for any sort of writer; I felt like I may have lost a bit of my blogging ‘mojo’, so to speak. To be honest, when I looked back at this term I was thinking ‘yeah, it was a good term, but nothing particularly exciting happened…’.
This has been the sort of in-between term. You’ve just gotten over the stress of January deadlines and not quite reached panic period of April-onwards, leading up to the home-stretch exam season when the weather is beautiful (for once) but the work is piling up. Your days are spent cooped up in the library wishing that person would turn their music down, endlessly procrastinating on social media and having repetitive conversations about how stressed you are. Anyway, I digress. When I started to reflect on the last couple of months, memories kept popping into my head of things I have tried for the first time and new experiences I’ve had. I guess I’ve learnt that despite nothing groundbreaking happening per se, we grow in little ways every day.
Working in a Café
So, like many students living in London, I became frustrated with the extortionate prices (sipping painfully on a £10 cocktail) and having no income of my own, I decided to take it upon myself to find a part-time job. Now this was a relatively new venture for me as I have been fortunate enough to have a student loan and extremely generous parents, so I never worked during my undergraduate degree and spent the summers interning (for free: previous employers, you’re welcome) in order to build up my CV. I did some promotional work as a brand ambassador last summer which paid quite well but it wasn’t a regular job with set days to work, and I wanted to find something a bit more stable. Luckily Tooting, where I live, is a pretty up-and-coming area and there are quite a few new cafes that have popped up in the last year or so. My favourite of these was this little place called MUD (shameless promotion here), which does the best brunch of all time and has a great lively atmosphere, so I got in contact with them online and after a couple of days I had my first trial shift!
In all honesty it hasn’t been the smoothest ride. I was disheartened at first because I wasn’t used to being told what to do all the time and felt like I kept on making mistakes- when you work at a café with a 30 minute waiting queue you’ve got to move pretty quickly, so I spend most of my days running around, taking peoples orders and praying I don’t mess up. After the first couple of shifts, things massively improved and I began to really enjoy the job: the people I worked with were chatty and the customers have always been friendly to me. I liked being around people and seeing new faces every day, and now I am even able to remember our regular customer’s orders by heart. Oh yeah and the £££ , well that’s pretty good too…
Dissertation: The Beginnings
Dissertation. The word inspires fear in the hearts of students around the country: What will it be on? Is it actually interesting? Is it original? Does anyone care? Do I even care? (don’t worry any LSE professors that are reading this- I do care, LOL). Media and Communications students were asked to submit a dissertation topic as early as November last year in order to be allocated a dissertation supervisor whose expertise mirrored our research interests, and luckily I got my first choice. For those that are wondering, I’m exploring how gender politics are played out in media coverage of terrorist attacks. This topic came to me somewhat unexpectedly but rather conveniently. I knew I wanted to study gender and media representation but was unsure where to start: the terrorist attacks in November coincided with my topic deadline and I guess I was more conscious of what I saw in the news and decided it would be an interesting avenue to explore. So after some tweaking, I came up with a research question and began trawling through books in the library (not out of my own will, I may add) because we had two deadlines this term to submit a topic overview and mini-literature review. Starting is always the hardest, but don’t be discouraged: the more you read, the more you’ll begin to decide what you like and don’t like, whose ideas to build on and whose are totally irrelevant to your work (even if they are really interesting). My dissertation supervisor was a huge help during this whole process: recommending books to start with, reassuring me that I had months to work on it so I shouldn’t start worrying already and reminding me that nothing is set in stone- write about what you are passionate about.
“What are you going to do after Uni?”
Now if there’s a subject that any student dreads more than discussing coursework/dissertations, it’s what’s going to happen when it’s all over: “soooooo what are you going to do after Uni?”. This topic of conversation has become as repetitive as a heart beat in the last couple of months, especially recently because I’m back home and seeing old friends who are all in the same boat as me.
I’ve been dabbling in some ‘job-research’, by which I mean harassing people who have jobs with questions. Alongside this, I went (sort of forced myself) to a Media and Communications networking event earlier in the term, and even though I thought it might be excruciatingly awkward striking up conversations with strangers whose job descriptions I had completely forgotten (despite having received a brochure detailing exactly this beforehand), it was a surprisingly fun event (although that might have been because of the free alcohol… joking) and I met so many interesting people who were full of advice and were keen to offer a helping hand in the ever-intimidating job search. I also chatted to our Media and Communications career advisor who was full of useful information and encouraged me to meet with her to discuss further options. I would definitely recommend utilizing this connection if you have it, and also asking your friends or alumni if they know of anyone who has similar career interests to you. At the end of the day, for me at least, there is still a massive question mark over what exactly I will be doing when I graduate from LSE, but I feel confident that I have a support network to fall back on.
On a final note, remember to make the most of your time left at Uni if you’re graduating this year, if you’re midway through, or perhaps even if you’re an excited 18 year old who is about to embark on this crazy journey. I know it’s easier said than done, and for a sentimental person such as myself who spends a lot of time reflecting on the past, I often struggle to totally live life ‘in-the-moment’. However, I’m adamant on making the most of the last couple of months I have left in education and taking the opportunities as they come. If you spend too much time worrying about your life post-uni, you’ll forget to enjoy actually being in it, and it’ll all be over before you know it. For those like me who are drowning in coursework or revision this Easter holidays, don’t let the stress of work blind you from the world that exists outside of your little academic bubble. Take some well-deserved time out, and I wish you all the best next term!