You were told university would mainly consist of sex and shots. Studying would be a side-hustle when the session was involved! You were assured you’d be lapping up tequila from belly buttons on your first day and drinking with new friends from far-slung corners of the country on the second. Booze and boys would go hand-in-hand with girls and gurning. If you didn’t have a traffic cone in your uni accommodation, were you even a real student?
‘Uni life’ is something I have four years experience of. Most of it was spent celebrating alcohol, handing in assignments late, working full time in restaurants and ‘trying’ to attend 9am lectures. Eventually – after quitting my first degree at The British Institute for Modern Music and starting up again at The University of Salford – I now have a neat Journalism and English degree to my name.
I left University 365 days ago last week. I remember handing in my Major Final Project and being totally burnt out. I did not want to write. I had no desire to be creative. Real-life responsibilities were a serious ‘no’ and I did not want to attempt the inevitable job rejection process. I wanted to put as much time between my degree and I as possible.
Finishing university (June 2019) – October 2019
What I was: Staff trainer, social media contributor and marketing campaign co-ordinator.
Upon completing the final few months of my degree, I was already working full-time as a staff trainer within the hospitality industry. My hourly wage was better than minimum, I loved the community within the company I worked with and the fun never seemed to cease. I would help create rotas, complete monthly head office audits and attend training days where lots of coffee and brioche was on offer.
After a meeting with the companies lovely social media manager in July, I was given the responsibility of creating site-specific Instagram Story content. Alongside staff training and general serving, I would upload daily photos and videos of what was happening in the restaurant, market menu specials and ultimately attract more customers. The stories content was solely mine to create which was great fun, and a serious eyeopener into how hard digital marketing can be!
Later in July, I also required the additional role of being a the pre-Christmas campaign co-ordinator for my site and became a key holder. I created press-releases; wrote marketing emails and worked within the confines of deadlines and marketing calendars. I set-up this campaign and it was forwarded by my colleagues when I left the company at the end of October.
November 2019 – March 2020
What I was: Assistant General Manager, social media contributor and Stock Counter
After leaving my creative waitressing role, I became the Assistant General Manager (AGM) of a pub/restaurant. I was still doing the day job – pouring pints and serving tables – but I was also again creating digital content for Instagram and Twitter. I also learnt how to use Microsoft Excel properly, how to efficiently manage people and time effectively, utilise database systems and also learnt how to order stock while also maintaining holding levels.
Lockdown (March 2020) – Now
What I Am: Blogger, Freelance Copywriter and Creative
Lockdown hit in March 2020, and (like the rest of Manchester’s hospitality industry) I was furloughed from my managerial role. As to the rules of furlough, I wasn’t allowed to participate in working for the company in anyway. This meant all the excess time I spent at work could be channelled into my own business.
After not writing on my blog for almost the entire year of being a new graduate, Cigarette Sounds is officially back in business. I have been scribing weekly blog posts in niches such as food and drink, fitness and literary arts. I have refined my ability to work in Lightroom, and have also picked up skills in digital marketing. I’ve started working with brands and PR agencies (I had some CBD delivered through my letterbox last week which was great), have set myself up with some affiliate schemes and working on making my blog my actual business.
Away from Cigarette Sounds, I have also gone freelance with my copywriting! I have been working via Upwork to secure various contracts including scribing sentences on Greek Mythology for a Classics website and reporting on COVID-19. It’s a weird and wonderful time, but I am so looking forward to going to Foundation Coffee House with my laptop and working on something special.
SO that is what I have done with my degree in a year! I’ve started to move in a direction to do something I love, have taken the ‘freelance plunge’ and am finding I have a lot of great ideas I want to start getting off the ground. Motivation, come at me!