different career paths for the 20-something

So on Tuesday I wrote a post all about being happy in your 20s, and obviously your career plays a huge part in that. Us bloggers tend to discuss our careers a lot, I think people from inside and outside of the industry are interested in what bloggers actually do. I really do love my job and have been so fortunate to find what I love so early on in life, but, it isn't always the most relatable careers for your guys to read about. It got me thinking about what I would be doing if I wasn't blogging, and also what all of my friends are doing. All of my closest friends are in completely different careers, many in different cities, some doing what they love, some doing what pays the bills for now but isn't forever. So I asked five of my best friends to share what they're doing now. I deliberately chose the friends I met through education (from school to Uni) and not through my work, because despite our lives being similar at the time we met, they are now very different! I am lucky to say I am surrounded by lots of inspiring people, so I thought it only fair to share that inspo with you guys too! And also some old and cringe photos for good measure too. 


Alex and I have been friends for almost four years now. We met through Uni (despite doing different degrees at different universities) and lived together for our second and third year at Uni. We still talk all the time and organise double dates as much as possible!

Tell everyone what you do you for your job:

I work in a call centre, Thames water, and I'm in billing and general enquiries and that's in Yorkshire.

And what you did at Uni:

 Photographic journalism

Your degree wasn’t directly related to your job now, looking back would you have still gone to Uni? What advice would you give to anyone who doesn’t know what they want to do when they graduate?

Yeah definitely, I think after I graduated I was in a weird phase of my life when I wondered why I did it all. I just bought a house and started working full time and didn't actually think about what to do with my life until recently. I think regardless of your degree, having one opens so many doors.

What advice would you give to anyone who doesn’t know what they want to do when they graduate?

Don't panic. Take time to really think about what it is you want to do. Do your research. Try and fail and then try again. Cry when you feel like crying because you're going to feel frustrated and lost and it's OK because in the end you'll end up where you're meant to be

You have worked the entire time I have known you, even through your final year of your degree, how important do you think it is to work through Uni? 

I think it's pretty important, I've worked since I was 16 and I wouldn't change that. I think it's important to also only take on only what you can handle. In the last weeks of my dissertation, I tried to take on a 30 hour week which obviously resulted in disaster

What is your next big goal?

I want to be an English teacher. I didn't do a degree in it so it is proving to be more difficult than I thought. I would also like to convince my boyfriend that buying us a King Charles cavalier is the best decision he could make!


Next up we have Laura! Laura and I met at Leeds College of Art in our Foundation Year, and then both went onto the same Uni but doing different courses. We've holidayed together and usually get through lots of gin when we see each other! 

Tell everyone what you do you for your job: 

I am a secondary school art teacher. I work in an all girls catholic school, I teach girls ages 11-19 art and design  & also act as a form tutor for a year 7 group (it's like I've adopted 28 babies).

What did you do at Uni?

I studied Fine Art for my BA and then completed my teacher training through schools direct gaining a PGCE & QTS. 

Becoming a teacher means an extra year of education, how did you find that at the time when everyone was graduating? 

Challenging! Ha! It was the hardest year of my life.. Financially and socially. My friends seemed to be going places, enjoying themselves. Because I was training & didn't get any money I also had to work weekends and it seemed like I never had any fun. But I knew I was working towards something life changing.  

You recently moved to London and faced some other huge life changes, what advice would you give to anyone also faced with huge changes in life? 

I would say be selfish, sometimes you really have to consider what makes you happy. Because if you're not happy it's not healthy & can have a devastating effect on you.. Unless you do something about it! Embrace the changes and make something positive of it. Deciding what would make me happy & forcing myself into some huge life changers was the best decision I ever made! 

And how to embrace and take on a huge move to a new city?

I am a social person and a big city (particularly London) can be extremely isolating if you don't know anyone there & when nobody speaks to each other here! So branch out, live with people you don't know (spare room is great for that)  I have even found a best friend on a friends app (which I used to turn my nose up at). It is  perfect once you have a good couple of friends to hang out with! Try out new places or events even if you think it's not something you'd usually be up for! You may find some hidden gems! Also citymapper is a must for transport! Absolute life saver. 

You have known you have wanted to teach for a really long time, have you ever had second thoughts about it? 

Oh my god I nearly quit twice during my training! I've wanted to be a teacher since I was around 17/18... Can't remember where that idea came from but I stuck with it, everything I did at college, uni etc. Lead up to becoming a teacher... And then suddenly I  had been thrown in the deep end, I was stressed, tired, poor and miserable! I can't even tell you the amount of times I cried that year. Family, friends, colleagues were all concerned about me because I was clearly so sad. It turned out it was another part of my life that was getting me down & once I made a decision on that everything clicked! I pushed through the difficult times, I didn't quit & now I absolutely love my job as a teacher! 

It's okay to question everything in your life, I think it's a normal thing in your twenties.. It makes you re-assess whether everything you've always wanted is still what you want now. I'm so glad I persevered with my teacher training & worked out that it was a long term relationship I was in that was bothering me.. I honestly couldn't  be happier! 

Emma and I have been best friends since our final few years of school. We went to different Uni's but managed to stay in touch and continue to speak on the phone almost every single week! Like me, Emma has never had a strong desire to move far away from home so we have always had that in common, along with about 29432920 other things which fuel our hour long phone conversations! 

Tell everyone what you do you for your job:

I am an Account Executive at a customer engagement agency based in Leeds.

And what you did at Uni: 

Business with Marketing at Northumbria Uni

I remember how hard it was for you to find your job in your placement year, but you managed to find the perfect one in the end! What advice would you give to people currently facing rejection in finding a job? 

I first tried to keep a positive attitude, I knew the reasons I wasn’t getting the jobs I applied for weren’t to do with myself but more due to a lack of experience. Secondly, I tried to get as much advice and feedback as I could rather than becoming disheartened. My advice to anyone facing rejection is don’t give up. It is cheesy but I do believe everything happens for a reason, and looking back I am glad I didn’t get some of the jobs I applied for, as in the end I got the job which was perfect for me! 

There is the constant pressure to move to London for a career, and an assumption everyone should do it. How do you find that pressure, and how do you ignore it? 

I have never ever had any interest in moving to London, so it is very easy to ignore the pressure. I think London is a great place for some people, and I know some of my good friends love it down there, but I don’t think it is a necessary thing to do for any career.

What is the proudest moment in your career so far? 

After having a difficult time finding a job for my placement year, I think my proudest moment has got to be then being offered a full-time job at my placement company after I graduated uni.  

What would be your next big goal? 

For a long time now my goal has been to save up enough to go on a big extravagant holiday, and I have recently booked a trip to Singapore, Thailand and Dubai! Now that goal is complete, my next big thing will be to buy my own house… 

Katie is one of my oldest friends as we've been besties ever since the first year of school. Despite attending different uni's and Katie now living in London we have never ever lost touch. Everyone says we look like sisters which we both think is a lie and do not see at all.. haha! 

Tell everyone what you do for your job:

I work in PR as a Senior Account Executive at a place called M&C Saatchi PR and I have been with this agency for about 13 months now. 

What do you did at Uni? 

I studied History at Newcastle University.

You degree isn’t related to your job, do you still think it was important to have done your degree? 

Absolutely, while the rise and fall of Italian Fascism isn't exactly connected to my job so many skills I learnt at university are. A big part of my degree was about self-discipline and self-motivation as I had very little contact time with professors. In my job, the hours can often be long (including early starts for calls with international teams) so self-motivation really comes in handy there. My job requires a lot of reading and writing, and being a history graduate, I have plenty of years’ experience doing this.

You moved to London aged 21, how did you find that move? You were one of the first within our friend group so it was a big move! 

Scary. I made the move the summer I graduated and at the time I knew very few people down here. Like anything, it all just takes time. Within a few months I had a lovely flat sharing with friends and I was settling into my job. You’ve always got to think you’re never alone in such situations and it’s hardly a city short of new people to meet and I’m fortunate to enough to have made some life-long friends down here. This is of course aside from my best pals back in the North (I mean I wouldn’t be answering these questions after work for just anyone). 

Two and a half years down the line and I can't imagine myself living anywhere else, although I will still never get my head around the cost of living - Yorkshire and Newcastle did not prepare me for this and I have a lot to thank my parents for over the years.

Do you think moving to London was important for you career? What opportunities did it bring that you didn’t feel you would find in the North? 

For PR I think so. The majority of the media houses (newspapers and magazines) are based down here so it's good to have them all close by. In this industry it's really important to build up good connections and this is always easier to do face to face. Being based in London is useful for events and media launches where we need people in the industry to attend (the more convenient for them and the less they have to travel...the better).

While the choices are endless in London for PR agencies doing similar things to myself, there are also hundreds of agencies around the UK and lots of brands based all over that have in-house PR teams. For me coming to London was about trying something outside of my comfort zone, something completely different and not just for my career. 

What is your proudest moment in your career so far? 

That's a tough one, but recently I have been doing a lot of work for one particular brand - which has always been one of those 'dream'  brands for me - and I've been fortunate enough to travel with it and work with some amazing people. I love everything about it and when your passionate about something you naturally put more into it and the outcome is even more rewarding. Only this week was I visiting Manchester to the BBC studios to do some live broadcasting, a bit of a 'holy grail' media opportunity in the PR world so that was pretty cool. 

Finally, London and PR are a fast paced combination - how do you manage a work/life balance? 

With a very detailed calendar on my phone with reminders! It's important to switch off, PR like London is a busy environment and there always seems to be something going on which can often mean late night working and even weekends so it's vital to have that down time. While I can't resist saying no to popping to the pub after work for a few drinks, there's nothing I like more than coming home and putting my pyjamas on with a Netflix binge. Something which I manage to justify to myself every time. When I'm not crashed out on the sofa I love exploring the city with my friends. You really could never visit the same place twice! I'm fortunate enough to be in a very sociable job and in a very sociable city and for all it's down sides (mainly dordling tourists and the underground at rush hour) I wouldn't have it any other way! Well, perhaps until my bank balance tells me otherwise.  

And finally, the fabulous Connor! I had to get a boy in the mix here, even if Connor is one of the girls... we all went on a 'girls' trip to Ibiza while in 6th Form, which of course involved Connor. Connor also lives in Manchester now but, as is often the way when everyone works, it doesn't mean we get to see each other as much as we would like! 

Tell everyone what you do you for your job:

I am a TV Producer currently working in daytime / entertainment television based in Media City, Manchester.  

You have already had an incredible career despite not having been to Uni, what positive impact do you think that’s had on your career? 

Spending 3 years in the industry has helped me gain valuable experience that in turn has resulted in full time employment in a career I'm now so passionate about. For anyone not 100% sure about going to university do not stress - there are other options out there and going straight into work can be so rewarding as I have found.

And the negative? Do you feel like you missed out on something? The pressure to go to University is huge, especially through school! 

I think University is a once in a life time experience and I must admit there have been times when I've been gutted to have missed out on what the majority of my friends have done. However at the same time I feel I've had my own experience - I've lived in a new city, gained new friends,   Had many a night out dancing with the added bonuses of no lectures or debt! 

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work in TV? 

Go for it! Do as much experience on as many different programmes as you can. My first year in the industry was my most fun - I worked as a runner across a number of high profile programmes, meeting and working with a number of people who inspired me to work hard so that one day I'd be able to have a full time career in TV.

What’s your next big goal? 

To buy a property of my own by the end of 2017

And how do you manage a work/life balance with such a demanding job?  

The positives about being in the TV industry is work doesn't feel like "work" - I enjoy what I do and i'm grateful that I work so closely with my friends. 

Elizabeth Hadfield9 Comments