University is very much its own bubble. I think you get to the point where you have been there so long (four years) and you forget why you are there and that, hopefully at the end of it all, you might actually get a job. This can sometimes be a good thing- you rarely get ‘the guilt’ when you go out mid-week but I also find that it can be really draining.
I hate to say it but I think I’m sick of being a student. I know, I will read this back in a year or two when I am (hopefully) working and resent it but the rubbish meals, pitiful bank balance and student halls can all be gone.
It doesn’t help that last week I went down to London to go on placement. Coming home after staying with a friend all week made Warrington seem small and so quiet. As this was my first placement at a magazine I was slightly apprehensive (slightly being the biggest understatement in the world, I was bricking it.)
The truth is, I have never actually been to London by myself. I have always had a trusty friend who knows how to get around on the tubes or my parents to plan out my whole trip. So, citymapper in hand, I over packed my extremely large suitcase (because what would I do without clothing options) and set off down south.
After meeting my friend at Euston (and avoiding some very drunk football fans) I then negotiated the tubes with my impractical suitcase. Word to the wise, always make sure you can comfortably lift your baggage if you are going to take it on the tube. After the second set of stairs I had to carry it up I was resenting cancelling my gym pass and by the fifth set I genuinely thought I was having a panic attack. We got back to her house, it was the best work out I have done in a good year.
Once we had caught up and I had cast the bag out of my sight (it brought back too many painful memories) I remembered why I was actually in London. I think there is only so much planning you can do for a placement. Obviously, know where you are going and about the brand but beyond that it’s hard.
I woke up the next day ready to face my arch nemesis once again, the tube. It turns out with a normal size handbag it’s just about bearable. So long as you’re willing to stand a little bit too close to a few strangers before your morning coffee (this was a sharp learning curve for me).
Like anywhere, the first day on placement is always going to be a little bit tougher than the others. For starters you don’t know who anyone is, where the loos are and you’ll probably spend your first lunchbreak on the phone to your mum because you don’t know how long you’ve got and don’t want to walk in ridiculously early or late. It’s just a lot of ‘not knowing things’ but why would you?
There is so much useful advice I got before going on placement; always ask if you can do anything for anyone and network network network. But I think the best thing I was told to do was just be normal. Smiling goes a long way and they probably don’t want a silent, odd student sat at their desk with them as much as you don’t want people to ignore you or be mean.
It sounds silly but it surprised me that Editors are actually people too. They’re not all like Miranda Priestly and they want to see you get something out of your time with them. Do what they ask you to do, quickly and accurately and then ask if there is anything else. When I was feeling awkward and getting lost in my own head (which was more often than I would like to admit) I just set little goals. Try to speak to at least one new person on the desk a day and really ask them what their role is, ask them to show you.
It sounds cheesy but I feel so lucky to have been able to go to a magazine that I love, I had a smile plastered on my face all week. I think in a time when uni is getting a bit too much it is good to be reminded of the end goal.