Where are you going?

So, where are you going? An incredibly ambiguous question right? You might already have some idea of where this blog is headed. In any case, lets progress.

I’ll start with an incredibly powerful quote from a book I’ve recently started:

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child – What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if some point you become something and that’s the end.”

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Thought provoking stuff.

When I was growing up, my response to this question would have been a Lawyer. Why? It just sounded cool. A few years and a dozen GCSE exams later, my response to this same question would have been an Investment Banker – for the same reason of it just sounding cool. Fast-forward a couple years to the fresh-faced Economics undergrad that I once was, a more vague answer of “I don’t know, but something in finance” would have been what you’d get from me. And the reason for this being purely because of my perception that an Economics student should go into finance. A wholly invalid band wagon that I would slowly and thankfully depart from by the end of by time at University.

At this time, one would ask me, Snow, why do you write all your blogs like a story? I’d tell you, it’s just my style! Or in the words of Michelle Obama; “your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something you own.” Safe to say I’m a massive fan of this woman, but I digress.

As some may be familiar, many students take an industrial year placement to work and gain some workplace experience at some point during undergraduate education. I did mine in a sales team at a Business-2-Business events and marketing firm in London. At the time a very confused Economics student was struggling to understand the departure from the admired ‘Economics = a job in finance’. Little did I know, I’d grow to enjoy the role and more so love my team. But yet, it wasn’t finance. By chance, I landed a role in a bank. A fish to water is what I’d envision my time there would be (boy was he wrong – alas a story for another day).

Now a final year student with a rather confused outlook on the ‘Economics = a job in finance’ belief, as I’d been able to gather that ‘finance’ in itself was not as clear cut as I would have imagined.

If you had asked me our introductory question at any point prior to the 5th December 2019, I would have told you “something in corporate finance and M&A”, deep down, I know that I still had no real idea. With time of the essence and the real world in sight in only 6 months – I was in a mental pickle. Where was I going?

I remember being in the library one evening prepping for January exams. And in my fatigue, my mind drifted to a lunchtime chat I had with a friend over summer. She works in a Law firm. During the chat she asked me of my post-graduation intentions. My response being a sheepish “I’m not too sure but probably finance”. Her response was – why don’t you consider Law? I politely shrugged this off. So here I am in library actively disengaged with my reading, now typing in the name of this friend’s Law firm. After an hour-long session of research, I had an epiphany. On the 5th December 2019, I finally made sense of where I was going. In this moment I felt an amalgamation of emotions. But the two that stood out were excitement and also fear.

Let me begin to close.

Little did any of us 2020 grads know that something was coming that would change our outlooks so dramatically – the COVID19 pandemic. As an Economics student, you didn’t need to tell me twice that this would be a massive attack to any idea to post graduation economic certainty for the many. The journey of where I was going and for the masses was certainly uncertain.

Not too long ago I wrote a short article for LinkedIn based on an article I read from the Forbes magazine entitled ‘Money, Career And Life Advice For The Graduating Class Of 2020’. I think the content of my brief rendition feeds in nicely to round off my aim of this blog.

This article, particularly the latter half, hit at some take home truths. The emphasis on Community, Purpose and Resilience resonated with me greatly as I will expand upon.

  • The necessity for a strong ‘Community’ is needed now more than ever. Forgive me for using the age-old phrase but your network is your net worth! Relationships are a key pillar of success in every regard. For us in the Graduating Class of 2020, the journey called life is going to undoubtedly take us to some interesting places. But you never know who you might run into along the way.
  • I think the slowdown of life (so to speak) has really allowed the time for us to check in and take stock. The speed of normality almost leaves us no time to understand ourselves and to make sense of our ‘Purpose’. I feel there’s no better time than the present to really dig deep to find out who we are, where we want to go and most importantly the why. 
  • ‘Resilience’ is without a doubt something we can each attest to be champions of. The tenacity to press on with virtual lectures, sit remote exams and writing dissertations in our predicaments speaks volumes of our drive to succeed. The next cycle of life is going to be a true ongoing test of resilience. But I think we have shown the capacities to take the challenges of life in our stride! 

By not being in the place that you envisioned you would have been does not make it the end of the world. Again, myself being guilty of this. There’s a whole world of opportunity and learning out there – finishing university is just the first hurdle.

I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but it is going to be ok – we are going to be ok!

The format of education and perhaps of life itself so far as pushed us into a sequential way of thinking – SATs to GCSEs, A Levels to University and then work (an oversimplified simplified timeline of course). And more detrimentally towards the idea that any deviation from this is bad and/or the end of the world particularly in my overdramatic schema of thought. But this is far from the truth, especially for us now.

Life is indeed a marathon, not a sprint. In that same breath, I feel the overarching question of this post should not be ‘Where are you going?’ but rather ‘How will you get there?’

Much love always,

Snow

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