"I remember sitting in my accommodation pre-Covid, feeling stuck and lost. My time at university was coming to an end, and most of my friends had found jobs or graduate schemes, gotten placements and internships, or applied for MA's. They all seemed to have a plan, which made me worry about my lack of clarity. Where was I going and what was my focus? People would ask me the dreaded question: "What are you going to do next?" and I didn't have an answer.
"So, I'll be honest and say that I cracked down on the issue. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I was determined to do everything possible to avoid unemployment. This resulted in me applying to various jobs, considering MA's and graduate schemes, internships and other opportunities in the unseen job market in the middle of my third year all the way until I finished my dissertation. I got a few interviews, but regardless of my preparation and timing they didn't go well. The thing I heard repeatedly was that "I didn't have enough experience", or that my degree "didn't link specifically to what they were looking for.
"Then the pandemic swept over the country. At this point, I wasn't too sure what to do. I'd previously held down a job as a Poker Dealer in a casino during university and had planned to rely on that but I was made redundant. So after finishing my dissertation and submitting all of my work to be assessed I didn't feel relieved, I felt lost, exhausted and rather overwhelmed."
Searching for a job in a pandemic
"I took a small break to reflect on my time at university and the loss of a job I'd planned to rely on temporarily for income, then I continued a focused job search. In the process of applying to various locations I'd come across a couple of recruiting agencies. One of the agencies, Brook Street Bureau, had previously contacted me for a different governmental position, although there had been more suitable candidates at the time. They called me back and let me know that there was another vacancy, this time with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). During this call, they asked me where I was located (Croydon) and informed me that a job role was available to work as a Case Manager in Universal Credit, although the position was all the way in Eastbourne. The agent warned me that while the agency thought I would be great for the position, the travel time was around "four hours or more" every single day in order to get there and back.
"There were a lot of checks involved, but in the end I passed through and ended up traveling down to Eastbourne for a few months to work in the DWP. I was exhausted at the end of every week but the job was perfect for my circumstances. Moreover, after graduating with a First Class degree, displaying my abilities to my line managers and my determination to succeed, the department relocated me to a closer location to my home and recommended that I apply for an upcoming promotion."
Going for promotion
"Needless to say, I was ecstatic about how things were working out, although the opportunity for promotion seemed surreal. I applied for the position, and put myself through the difficult assessments, tests and interviewing process. It took a very long time for them to process my application due to the number of other applicants but eventually they gave me an offer."
Determined to succeed
"Personally, I think this is simply an example of perseverance, hard work and patience. I focused on achieving the best I could at university (although I never thought I'd get a First, nor was I specifically aiming for it). This same approach is what got me moved and promoted as well: working on myself and doing the best I can in small instances every single day. Yes, a bit of luck is always involved but when the opportunities arrived I was ready to grasp onto them because of the work I'd put in. Regardless of the pandemic, I kept going because I only had control of how I acted under the circumstances."