The other day I had a worrying thought. My time at university and therefore as a student, is limited. That means that even though I may know lots of people in all years on my campus and am part of a society that does so cool things for its members, when I leave, all that will count for nothing. Granted, I’m going to another university for a Masters in September but a year isn’t enough for me to make a mark, I need to start making my mark in the real world.
University, whether we like it or not, is a bubble. That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to go to university, on the contrary, if university life is for you then you will thrive, friends will be abundant and you’ll be a campus name after your first year. It’s easy to see why people choose to go on to to masters, PhDs and endless years of postdocs. One of my friends who did a PhD described it as her way of delaying leaving university because she didn’t know what to do afterwards. This is not the case for everyone who does postgraduate study, many people go off into industry to get high paid jobs and make their mark with their enthusiasm for a chosen subject.
University has helped me to build bridges within a small version of the outside world and the way I’ve interacted with people here can most definitely translate into the real world. It may be harder to be a somebody in the real world though. In University it’s easy to become a leader if you really want to; societies and unions are always looking for their next president or committee and to get there you have to impress fewer people or just give out cakes to your fellow students to convince them you’re a good person. I’m generalising a lot and what I’ve just described could more accurately represent what goes on in colleges and not universities. I know that last year, the students union presidential candidates made videos, threw events and spent an awful lot of time on producing well thought campaigns in the hope of persuading people to vote for them.
But in the real world, to get to the top it takes years and not weeks or months. Stepping out of the colourful university surroundings and into the grey, open world could hit these people pretty hard. All of a sudden, no one knows who they are, the fact that they were student’s union president or president of the tennis society counts for nothing but a few words on their CV. The past suddenly seems warmer and brighter than the future.
This makes it seem like I’m not excited for the future but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m so excited for what’s instore for me that I’m ready to burst out of the university bubble and plunge feet first into the real- world scene. I want to change the world and I’ve already started making sure that I have some footholds to get me started on my way to world domination. I’m glad that when I leave university I will already be part of a huge microbiology society, and not just as an ordinary member, I will be the publications officer of the Early Career Scientists committee and have my writing published in a magazine sent out to all members! I just can’t get over how cool that will be!
And then there’s my masters. I will finally be able to make my way into proper science communication and I can’t wait to start on something completely different but totally relevant to what I want to do! The grin on my face when I describe my feelings about the future stretches from ear to ear. Of course I’m nervous but I’ve become more and more spontaneous as I’ve gone through my university journey, *shudders at the word journey*. Gone is the girl who didn’t want to participate in things where she knew no one; gone are the feelings of dread when I encounter a subject which I know nothing about. I now plunge myself into the search for new experiences and knowledge. I know that I’ll make new friends along the way that I share common interests with and be able to build up my own encyclopaedia titled ‘Jennie’s Limitless Collection of Worldly Knowledge’ in my head.
I’m lucky that I have friends and family that can provide an ever present safety net to catch me should I be knocked off my skyscraper. This spurs me on with a feeling that I can tackle anything that I want to, work through the downward spirals and climb more mountains in my quest to make a change.
The future doesn’t scare me, it inspires me. So to the future I say, “come at me bro!”