Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. As the world emerges from pandemic paralysis, are our Class of 2021 feeling inspired or inhibited, glad or gloomy, chaotic or calm? In this episode we meet Geography graduate Sheela who shares her story and her insight.
Welcome to Season 2, a little bit of the same but quite a lot different. Each month we meet five more graduates from the Class of 2021. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about life, the last 12 months and future plans.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.
Music: Since When by Mise Darling from freemusicarchive.org
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Sonia 0:09 This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season two, Class of 2021, a little bit of the same, but quite a lot different.
Sheela 0:23 So I'm Sheela, I've just graduated in Geography from the University of Edinburgh. I actually initially came into the course studying Geography and Politics and then moved on to just Geography, when I realised you could do Politics within Geography. I had a really, really, really nice four years, I'm really sad to leave. Right now I'm in Sheffield, with my parents, but I do-- I move to London in three days, to start my Master's in-- at London School of Economics. I'm doing a Master's in Political Science and Political Economy, because it was kind of the bits of geography that I really enjoyed. I'm really, really sad to leave Edinburgh though. I had a bit where I was like, kind of thinking, why did I not just stick and do a Masters at Edinburgh? I do think it'll be kind of good to push myself on my comfort zone, even though I'm really gonna miss Edinburgh. But no, London be exciting. It's just scary for now.
In fourth year my plan was to apply to a bunch of grad schemes, jobs, internships, and masters to kind of see what choices I had. I did practice at least the grad job cycle, but no masters was where it went. So yeah, I think it was partly also, I just definitely felt like I wasn't ready to stop being a student and partly it was just the best choice I had. Because four years, to be fair, it sounded like a lot when I started, but I definitely don't think I'm finished. I am quite academically tired now. I think I need a bit of a rest, I'm gonna try and really rest the next week. And hopefully it comes back. So a lot of people from school either did a three year degree or didn't go to uni at all. So they're actually in a way later stage of life to me. Quite like that I get to stay a bit younger. Because yeah, I mean, there's been people from school that have been working for four years now. And they're actually like, looking at buying a house or, you know, or are really, really independent. But if anything, it just makes me really want to cherish this time and really postpone that life [laughs]. This summer, I interned and it was the first kind of full time professional role in like real world stakes kind of, that I've ever done. It made me realise the kind of things that I do value. And one great thing about this internship was it had a very good working culture. I was working for the civil service in the Department for Environment as a policy intern, and they-- you can really tell that civil service values its employees, and I definitely figured out what kind of adult life I want. Because I think that you hear so many stories of people going into grad jobs, or they just treat them horribly. Or like interns who are having to stay up to one in the morning, to prove that they need the job. I didn't really like the whole corporate grad job life, that I feel like a lot of people from uni go straight into it, because you're kind of giving up a lot of your time from quite a young age where you, you're able to do so much else. Maybe if I didn't get this internship, I would be like, oh, okay, I'll just, you know, sacrifice my social life for a summer. But I really, really liked the fact that I had a very good work life balance all summer. And it's definitely where I want to go in the in the future.
I need to keep thinking that I'm 22 I can keep doors open and try a bunch of different things. But at the minute, I think I'm pretty clear that I want to go into the public sector, and I have really enjoyed working for the civil service. After my master's, I would like to go into the civil service basically and I hope this internship will help but I am always keep an eye on other things. The worst thing you can do is kind of go into a sector that you've only ever had experience for that, you've only ever thought about that and then realise it's not for you. I've been quite, maybe naively picky about things, about this has to be your dream job. Well, not really, like I think when it comes to next year's application cycle, I think I'm going to be a bit more realistic about things, a bit more organised about things. But still keeping in mind like the core values of wanting the working world. I really do want to grab on by the horns and really run with it, in the in the same way that I did with Edinburgh. Like I was expecting uni to instantly be amazing. Like I was very lucky in that it didn't take very long but there's there's always that first period that actually I think if I had people that I knew and could fall back on I probably would have just done that and then not experienced all the amazing things that I did for the next four years of meeting new people and really push myself to get out my comfort zone, because I've grown so much over my undergrad degree that I want to do that again in London. But yeah, I'm quite keen to it, while I do know people, to treat it like this is a new city and I need to find new people, new things, everything. I think the thing that's probably scariest is the scale of the city and the expense from Sheffield.
Edinburgh was quite a jump in terms of prices. London, London has been a shock. So it's making me think already, whether you're-- I'm thinking really long term at the minute like, do I want to live in London when I really settle down? Do I want to live back up North? I want to go to London kind of really use the networks that there are there because I think it does feel like especially with public sector, feels like, you know, just get a foot in the door, I feel like you need to be in London. So I kind of want to do that for a few years, hopefully and then once I've started my career, at the minute, I think I want to move back up North. I used to think it was really tragic to just turn up at things by yourself, so I just wouldn't do things that I wanted to do. Because I'd turn up by myself, I wouldn’t really get involved in that many societies. I honestly, I'd only come to, only come to something if that was what everyone was doing. But in second year, I really, really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I would like you know, when someone gives-- when someone invites you to a party, and I would take, take them up on the offer, like even if you felt like, oh, I'm not gonna know that many people there. I made so many, made so many new friends. I actually joined lots of societies, and that is honestly made my uni experience. Like I think that's the main thing I've got from uni is so much society involvement. And so in my fourth year, I was president of the Geography Society and I founded the [unintelligible] society and the 93% Club Edinburgh, and then join the committee for that as well. And then I was Policy Officer for Sustainable Development Association. Then in third year, I was doing like the society stuff, but it was all stuff that I would not have done if I'd have carried on in that first year mentality of being, being cool like it was at school. Whereas where you just sit back, whereas actually, you're not gonna get anything out of uni, unless you put yourself, put yourself out there. I'm so glad I did and I want to do that again in London. I loved uni so much in third and fourth year. Like fourth year, I think despite being entirely online, might have been like the best year of my life. Because it was just amazing. Like, I think pushing myself into different societies, it meant that I was meeting loads of people all the time, but doing new things, and figuring out new things that I was good at, new things I wasn't good at that I wanted to get better at. And also you just-- I feel like I stopped caring about like, the little things because it was more on in my life, you haven't got time to care about stupid little things when you got the next thing coming, which I think is so exciting. And yeah, it's one of the things people always tell you when you start uni, is to push yourself out your comfort zone and just go to things if you want to do it and see where it takes you and just follow up on that invite or be a bit extra when you're meeting someone's like friend or flatmate. But just make a new friend, just really try because they want you to but I didn't realise how literally to take it. And so kind of partway through second year, I was just like what am I doing? Honestly, I get, I get really bad FOMO now because I've overdone it. I think actually there was a bit in fourth year where I had taken too much on at the beginning because I think a big part of that was the first lockdown. It felt like everything I see on online was use this time productively, this will never happen again, like hustle culture was so big. It really, really got to me and I put too much on. But it was like stuff that wasn't temporary. It was like long term that was the kind of society commitments or like stuff that I'd signed up to and, and then I started fourth year and I ended up having like, five or six big things, big extracurricular things, on top of my degree that I then had to, like, after a bit, be realistic about and take-- and step down a little bit. It would have really, really burnt me out quite quickly, especially for things being online. So now it's the opposite of what I used to be like.
I think graduating in 2021, I think everything has got so much more competitive. I just feel like all of fourth year, you really had to step back sometimes and realise that it's actually just not that, it's just not that deep. The grad scheme cycle was all happening kind of, everyone's kind of going through it at the same time. It actually ended up getting a bit kind of, I got it quite toxic, actually because everyone was like, well, I'm at this stage, I'm at this stage, I'm at this stage. So many times you have to step back and realise that it's not a reflection on you where you are in that stage. The 2020 grads, it was-- their biggest thing must have just been the shock of everything changing suddenly. For us it was like a creeping, creeping competitiveness, because nothing really massively changed. It was just, oh, this is not over now, this is gonna, this is gonna take a while to come back actually and this is right when we're entering the working world.
Sonia 9:34 We also ask our graduates to share a place, somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.
Sheela 9:43 One of the best memories from Edinburgh was when like a big bunch of us went up to Calton Hill when it was, when the sun was setting. And it just, I don't know why, I just really remember us going there and, and I just go up Calton Hill all the time basically, but it's a bit of an ongoing joke people always say that I'm gonna get a Calton Hill tattoo. But I don't know, I just really, really love it. I think it's because it's what's always on the prospectuses when you see Edinburgh, Calton Hill. Especially because we started doing so much more outdoor wholesome stuff as things went online. I think before Covid, my social life to be honest was probably a little bit too much like going out because you don't actually socialise anywhere near as much as you think you do when you go out. Whereas Carlton Hill, Arthur's Seat, just wandering around Edinburgh, I don't realise how much more social those moments are. And it was at the start of us being able to kind of go out in bigger groups that we just had a really, really nice evening on Calton Hill. It was actually with the whole Geography society committee, which we're all really good friends with so just really, really love the place. That's definitely like when I think of Edinburgh, I think of Calton Hill from the prospectuses and then all the memories we've had. I really want to go up for Hogmanay. But I'm always-- when it comes to it like, we always scramble and then like 11, where are we going to be? But Calton Hill would be a good place to do Hogmanay. Maybe, or maybe-- I feel like Arthur's Seat wouldn't be fun actually, it would just be windy and horrible.
Sonia 11:16 Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kirsten 11:28 Wherever you are with planning for your future, the Careers Service is here to support you. As a recent graduate, you can continue to use all of our services, including full access to my career hub, online appointments with our career consultants, our full calendar of employer events and support with the application process. Find out more at ed.ac.uk/careers.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai