Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Zoe Wells

Hello and welcome to Episode 6 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. In this episode, I am delighted to chat with the one and only Zoe Wells, a 23-year-old Marketing Executive from Ashford, Surrey! Zoe and I graduated with our degrees in English Language and Linguistics in 2018 and, though I was confident we would remain friends after graduating, we have even more reason to stay in touch as I introduced her to my brother over two years ago… and the rest is history! In her spare time, Zoe likes to fulfil her passion for interior design following tips from the likes of Mrs Hinch on Instagram. In a more formal conversation than we would usually engage in, hear what Zoe has to say about life as a student, graduate and twenty-something…

Image description: Photos of Zoe and me with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Zoe W.”

Hey, Zoe! Thank you so much for agreeing to chat with me! You were one of the very first friends I made at Roehampton through our degree and, not only are we still great friends, but you’re now living with my brother! Haha! So, why did you choose to study English Language and Linguistics? 

No problem, thank you for asking me!  

I hadn’t really decided what I wanted to study at uni to start with. I studied English Language and Literature, History and Business at A level and knew I wanted to continue with English as it was the only topic I still really enjoyed, to be honest! 

I knew I wanted to stay at home during my studies, so I looked at courses that were provided by relatively local unis. I attended the odd talks about courses in Law, History and Social Care, but always went to talks about English. Having been to a few open days, there still wasn’t one course that I felt was right for me. When I attended the open day at Roehampton, the teacher was so passionate, and I found the examples of work so interesting. I remember we had a group discussion about the sentence “Buffy discovered a mole”.  It was almost like a lightbulb moment where I thought this is the area of English I want to study. 

That’s great! So, what did you enjoy most about university? 

That’s a tricky one for meI think there is such an expectation that uni is the best time of your lifebut I didn’t find this. I didn’t leave with a large social circle and I definitely struggled with the stresses of studying, working and trying to have a life in general! 

I did make excellent friends that I speak to almost daily. For me, the content was the best part; I found all the areas I studied so fascinating. I enjoyed researching, reading and writing the essays so much so that I really didn’t find them a chore. Even two years on, I think about the topics I learnt. I also had great lecturers who were clearly passionate about their areas of study and were really approachable about anything.

It can be very stressful, but I’m pleased to hear you enjoyed your degree.
I know that after graduating, you went on to pursue marketing which we’ll talk more about in a moment. When you started university, did you have a career path in mind? If not, how were you hoping university would help you figure one?

I think I was just hoping that my degree would allow me to gain access to larger companies in a good role. I remember in an interview for my first role in admin, the interviewers said they either looked for a degree or a few years of relevant experience. After uni, I wanted a role that I didn’t have to worry too much about after all the stress from uni. I wanted to have solid experience on my CV and get a good reference. I think it’s really important to remember that your first job isn’t your last! 

That’s true! And now, you’re in marketing and even recently landed a new role! Tell us a bit about how you got into marketing and your journey so far. 

After about a year in my admin role, I decided I needed a role where I could get back to my English roots and be more creative. I really missed writing contentso I looked for that in new roles. I don’t really remember how I came across marketing, but now it feels like a natural link with my passions. 

In my first marketing associate role, I got back to writing content like blogs and interviewing people (like you, Soph!) for case studies. There was more creative freedom, rather than set processes, to think of new ways to engage the audience. 

I have also been fortunate enough to work freelance. I made some good contacts that reached out to me with marketing work. It was a good leap of faith for me to be confident to be given a brief and execute it. I got a lot of exposure to new systems, web processes and tasks. I learnt so much in a short space of time and it helped me land my new role. 

I now work as a Marketing Executive with more responsibility and the ability to plan and execute my own marketing campaigns. It’s so nice to be back in a full-time role and have likeminded team members to support me and encourage my career development. I would love to gain a further qualification in marketing at some point. 

Amazing! What would you say to a current student or graduate who wants to get into marketing? 

One of the best things about marketing is that there are so many different areas to explore. From content to social media to events, there are lots of opportunities. No marketing is the same; that’s why I decided I wanted a full-time role instead of freelancing so that I wasn’t limiting myself to certain tasks. It provides good opportunities to network, socialise and gain qualifications. It’s a great option for creatives who like teamwork and project management. 

Finally, as I ask every graduate: if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be? 

I think I would recommend not to overcomplicate the experience. We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve and have the best time. My parents said “just try your best” and that’s something that’s stuck with me. It will be hard, but enjoy it because it will go by so quickly and then the real work begins!

I agree! Thank you so much, Zoe!

What a great story. Zoe reminds us that the university experience is not the same for everyone – some leave with lots of friends while others leave with a few, some find it more stressful than others and some might not enjoy their course of study as much as they hoped – and that’s okay. There is so much to look forward to after university; the freedom to discover more hobbies, interests and passions, the opportunity to build relationships and the possibility to gain more qualifications to name a few. As Zoe said, it goes by so quickly, so try to make the most of the experience and translate that into graduate life! 

Did you enjoy Zoe’s story? Stay tuned for more stories from fellow graduates and twenty-somethings on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Mia Ustun

Hello and welcome to Episode 4 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. I am very excited to introduce my fourth guest, 23-year-old master’s student from Luton, Mia Ustun! Mia graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton in 2018 and is currently working towards her MSc in Speech and Language Therapy at City University of London. Alongside her studies, Mia works as a part-time Pharmacy Advisor, and is working towards “30 before 30”: visiting thirty different countries before turning thirty. On that note, let’s hear what Mia has to say about life as a student, graduate and twenty-something in 2020…

Image description: Photos of me and Mia with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Mia U.”

Hey, Mia! Firstly, thank you so much for chatting with me. As I’ve mentioned to you many times before, you were the first person I spoke to on our English Language and Linguistics course, and I’m so grateful we’re still friends! Why did you choose this course of study?

Hi Soph! So happy to be taking part in Little Pav’s Little Chats.

During my time in sixth form, I wanted to study Psychology further, but really didn’t want to let go of my first love: language. I racked my brain, spoke to tutors and careers advisors, searched the internet until eventually coming across Speech and Language Therapy. I knew eventually this is what I would end up doing but, at only 17, I did not feel ready to embark on this particular journey. That’s when English Language and Linguistics caught my attention. I absolutely fell in love with the course and its content and believe it prepared me perfectly for my future endeavours!

That’s lovely! And now, you’re pursuing Speech and Language Therapy through a master’s degree! How big would you say the leap is from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

I am! I started Year 2 in September ‘20. I personally think it’s completely different from my undergraduate degree. My master’s course, however, is not typical; it’s essentially a four-year undergraduate course squashed into two. I went from being at university 2-3 days a week to 3-4 days plus a placement depending on where we’re at in the term. The workload is much heavier, and the content is challenging. I think this is because we have to cover so many areas, from biomedical science to acoustic phonetics, to augmentative and alternative communication. The list goes on… and on… and on. Overall, it was – and still is – quite a leap from undergrad life.

I agree that it’s a very big leap! So, why did you choose to study for a master’s degree? Is it expected of someone interested in Speech and Language Therapy?

So, in order to be a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK, you have to obtain an SLT qualification from a recognised course. Here are the routes you can take:

a) Four-year undergraduate degree

b) Two-year postgraduate degree

I’ve heard some people speculate the possibility of an apprenticeship in the future, but this is just hearsay. The master’s degree fits nicely with my educational development and gives me another bunch of letters after my name, so why not?

That’s true! You also took a gap year between your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Was this intentional? How did you spend your gap year?

Originally, I wanted to go straight into my master’s; I even started the application processes. Unfortunately, I had a number of bereavements within my family which meant I wasn’t in the correct headspace to embark on a master’s. Every cloud has its silver lining though, and, during my year off, I was able to volunteer and get some really solid experience for my future career. I trained as a conversation partner and even managed to qualify as a Pharmacy Assistant; it’s impossible for me to stay away from education, even during a gap year.

As well as volunteering and saving up, I tried to travel as much as I possibly could. I love exploring different cities and learning about different cultures. I fell in love with Venice and cannot wait till it’s safe to travel again.

Every cloud has a silver lining indeed!
You’re currently completing your master’s degree in the midst of a pandemic. What’s the biggest challenge this has raised for you as a student in 2020?

Oh my goodness, it has been a challenge. I think the biggest challenge has to be going from travelling into City and being in lectures or placement every day, to sitting at my desk, in my house, on Zoom calls every day. Since all my family members are at work or school, it’s just me in the house. It was nice to have the quiet at first, but now I’m a bit lonely. It’s a big adjustment, but I am so grateful to be where I am today. I’ve always tried to highlight to my little sisters just how privileged we are to have such a fantastic education and just how many opportunities life will give us because of it! I guess the take home message here is: remember, in times of struggle or when faced with adversity, how blessed you are.

That’s such a sweet message to your little sisters!
To finish off, if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be?

Live in the moment more and stop worrying about ‘what’s next’. This is something I’m still working on – but I really do try to practise it.

Soph, thank you so much for this interview!

No, thank you, Mia! Best of luck with the rest of your master’s!

How lovely! From Mia’s story, we can learn that there are so many ways you can find the right university course for you – be it through tutors, careers advisors and research – and how that course can prepare you for your desired career path. What’s more, Mia highlights that taking a gap year – intentionally or unintentionally – can offer many opportunities, from gaining work experience to travelling. So, if you are unsure what you want to do at university or how to spend your gap year, consider Mia’s footsteps!

Did you enjoy Mia’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring stories from fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Mia on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Natasha Hill

Hello and welcome to Episode 3 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. In this episode of Little Chats, I am very excited to chat with 23-year-old Surveyor Natasha Hill from Woking, Surrey! Natasha graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton in 2018 and an MSc in Real Estate Development from the University of Westminster in 2020 and is particularly interested in interior design. Her postgraduate degree is quite different from that of her undergraduate, so I’m most excited to hear how she pursued this route! When Natasha’s not nosing around people’s houses (as part of her profession, that is), you can find her re-watching her favourite EastEnders episodes which she has loved since it aired… well, since she was born because it aired before then! With that, let’s hear Natasha’s story…

Image description: Photos of me and Natasha with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Natasha H.”

Hey, Natasha! Thank you so much for chatting with me. Like Hannah, you and I became great friends through the completion of our English Language and Linguistics degrees. As I asked her, what made you choose this course of study?

Hey beautiful! No problem at all, I love reading your blogs, the pleasure is all mine!

I chose to study English Language and Linguistics because I thoroughly enjoyed English at school, at GCSE and at A level. I realised I loved analysing things, from literature to speech and, well, everything really! The course at Roehampton gave me the most freedom to analyse different topics in different ways, whereas most of the other courses where English is involved only really focus on creative writing, so Roey was the one for me!

That’s what I loved about Roehampton, too! When you started your degree, did you have a career path in mind?

When I started, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Different pathways became clearer later on, but in the beginning, I was so stuck on where I wanted to go. All I knew is that I wanted to do something which I enjoyed, and as far as work goes… that’s not a lot (lol)! Originally, I thought English is a good base subject that would benefit many careers. As I love organising and analysing things, I thought anything managerial would be great. As I got deeper into first year, Speech Therapy stood out the most as I really enjoyed the module Phonetics and Phonology (the study of sounds). The following year, I studied a module called Forensic Linguistics and decided I wanted to go into analysing people’s speech in law, but it turned out I wasn’t that good at that module, so I went against that… but how cool would that be?! In the last year, I took a work placement module where I took an internship at a Chartered Surveyors, mainly focusing on the social media aspects as well as writing up some of the reports from a colleague’s dictation. I was asked to stay on because it turns out I know a thing or two about buildings having been brought up with a family in construction and, bam, I have a job!

That’s amazing! So, after your undergraduate degree, you went on to do a postgraduate degree in Real Estate Development and now you’re a Surveyor, right?

Yes, so I undertook a master’s degree in Real Estate Development because, to be able to progress to a Chartered Surveyor (rather than *just* a Surveyor), I needed a degree relevant to property as well as the fact that it fast-tracks me for the professional qualification. I’m focusing on the pathway to become a Valuation Surveyor, but I also cover the work for many other things such as building surveys, planning applications and advice, party wall and building control!

Wow! So, are you enjoying your current role?

Yes, I love my job now because I am constantly analysing things. Plus, I get to nose around people’s houses which is super fun!

That does sound fun!
Do you think your undergraduate degree in English Language and Linguistics has been useful in this profession?

Yes, though it’s building related, I am still using my skillset of English Language and Linguistics because I write big reports and analyse many things including the property market, laws, documentations and how properties are made. My job is also very social which is another thing I love about it!

Yes, Linguistics really does offer so many transferrable skills!
Finally, if you could give a first-year student any piece of advice, what would it be?

Ooh… my advice for a first-year student is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, chat and meet people, go out, and don’t be afraid. I know it’s easier said than done, but everyone is in the same boat: it’s all new and a bit scary. Getting chatting to as many people as you can helps you to make friends quicker (some of which may be friends for life, eh, Soph 😉) and may provide a base of contacts which you may rely on later in life. This will help bring you some confidence, which will be really beneficial for things such as presentations in lectures and perhaps your future career!

That’s so true! Thank you, Natasha, and best of luck in your endeavours!

What a great chat! Not only does Natasha’s story illustrate that you don’t need to have a career path set in stone when you begin your studies, but also that your degree can be useful in any profession! As graduates, we’re often made to feel that we must secure a position directly related to our degrees however, the reality is that any subject can offer an array of transferrable skills – skills that might differentiate us from other candidates!

Did you enjoy Natasha’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring chats with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Natasha on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Megan Warren-Figgess

Hello and welcome to Episode 2 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay to not have your life figured out in your twenties. Today, I’m so excited to chat with Megan Warren-Figgess, a 21-year-old Support Worker and Dance Teacher from Sutton, London! Earlier this year, Megan founded her own small company, IN MY FEELS, which focuses on dancing in high heels and embracing body confidence. Unlike many of my upcoming guests on Little Chats, Megan didn’t go to university, which is why I’m especially excited to chat with her about how she pursued her business! Hear Megan’s story below.

Image description: Photos of me and Megan with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Megan W-F.”

Hey, Megan! Thank you so much for chatting with me; I am so excited to hear about your business. Before we talk more about that, though, my first question for you is: were you ever made to feel like you must go to university in order to succeed, be it through teachers, friends or societal pressure?

Yes! All throughout college it felt like the only option afterwards was uni. As we had lessons spent filling out UCAS forms, and as I studied Performing Arts, we had lessons especially for auditioning for schools and universities. I also found myself surrounded by friends who were already at uni or were applying to unis which added to the pressure of me feeling like I had to go. However, I was even unsure myself if university is truly what I wanted.

University seems like the only option to many, but — as you exemplify — that’s not the case. Before your business, what did you go on to do after your college studies?

I did end up auditioning for drama and musical theatre schools which I got into, but as they were ridiculously expensive to accept, I had to turn them down. However, for me that ended up being the best choice and I’m so happy I didn’t go. The first few months after college were hard and I almost felt a bit lost as to what I wanted to do or my next steps. For the time being, I found myself in a care job where I cared for young disabled children. I ended up doing that for a few months, but I eventually found myself auditioning for my first acting job which I got. The people I was working with were all 25+, went to drama schools and universities and had agents. But this is a great example that you don’t need all that as I auditioned without an agent and without drama school training and I got that job – which was a paid acting job – all by myself, which was one of the best things I have ever done and it taught me so much.

That is a great example! And now, you now run an amazing small company called IN MY FEELS Dance! Tell us a bit about IN MY FEELS and how it came to be.

So, since I was doing my acting job in 2019, I stopped dancing as I didn’t have time. Then in January 2020, I started going to some dance classes on my own. Then the idea came to me about running my own classes that were not only about learning a routine, but I wanted to find a way to teach others about feeling confident and sexy. For me, I’ve always struggled with my body appearance and feeling confident in my body, but the times I feel my most confident and sexiest within myself is actually when I’m in heels and dancing! So, I put the two together and had an idea in February 2020 to teach high heels classes for all abilities about working on and embracing body confidence! I first started off by drafting some social media ideas and then did a post on Instagram to see if anyone would be interested to which I got an amazing response. Then, a few weeks after getting everything in place, I started up my classes. IN MY FEELS Dance has become such a passion and love of mine, and one day I would love to make it full-time and expand it. I feel so proud of myself for doing everything on my own, from finding and hiring a studio and choreographing, to running and editing my own social media posts, and interacting with the people who come. I have gone from never studying how to run a business to learning for myself which I’ve enjoyed so much.

Wow, you should be proud! Do you think that university would have been helpful in pursuing your business, or rather are you happy without having gone to university?

For me, I’m happy with my choices and that I didn’t go to university. I think about how, if I went, I wouldn’t have been offered the amazing opportunities I have in the space of the time I would have been at uni. I have also found that, from two years ago to now, my mind has changed completely as to what I want to do for a career; when I was applying to universities, I was applying to study to be an actress and performer whereas, after college, that changed completely as my passion now is running my own classes and my own business, which I hope one day can become a full-time thing. Also, I have now got myself a job where I am a support worker for young people with ranging needs from mental health to homelessness, which I now have a passion to be in work which works towards helping others in mental health. I think, if I did go to university, I wouldn’t have found these new passions of mine, so I look back and I don’t regret at all not going to university.

That’s really refreshing to hear. What advice would you give to a current sixth form or college student who isn’t sure whether to, or doesn’t want to, go to university?

Only you can decide what you truly want to go on to do. Although parents, teachers and friends can give you advice, at the end of the day, it’s about what you want to do and not what anyone else thinks. If you are unsure about whether you want to go to uni or not, or feel like you are only going because you don’t know what else to do, my advice would be to look for opportunities and what else there is. Until I looked, I didn’t realise all the amazing opportunities there are.

That’s absolutely true. On that note, if you could give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t feel pressured to decide what you want to do for a career. That will come when the time’s right; there’s no rush to find that perfect job. You’ll end up having to go through some bad ones to find the good one. Although it’s hard and can feel pressured with social expectations, at the end of the day, the only person you truly need to listen to is yourself!

I love that! Megan, thank you so much!

How inspiring! While university is right for many, Megan proves that it’s not the only option when you turn 18. If – like Megan was – you’re unsure whether university is for you, that’s okay; navigate other options, explore your passions and – most importantly – take your time. There’s no rush and, through the plentiful other options you can pursue, you might just discover or start something wonderful!

Did you enjoy Megan’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring chats with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Megan on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Hannah Shirley

Hello and welcome to my very first episode of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue post-graduation and, equally, that it’s okay to not have your life figured out in your twenties. I am very excited to introduce my first guest, 25-year-old graduate from a little village in Cambridgeshire, Hannah Shirley! Hannah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton London in 2018 and is currently not only helping her dad’s company with some “super fun” running of day-to-day necessities, which she can luckily complete from home, but also working on writing her own book! One day, Hannah also hopes to visit all the Seven Wonders of the World. With that, let’s hear what Hannah has to say about her life as a student, graduate and twenty-something…

Image description: Photos of me and Hannah with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Hannah S.”

Hey, Hannah! Firstly, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me! So, you and I became great friends through the completion of our English Language and Linguistics degrees. What made you choose this course of study?

I always knew I enjoyed the history of language and I wanted to further my knowledge of how our language has changed throughout time and why.

I decided at a young age that I wanted to be a Speech and Language Therapist after seeing the amazing journey my cousin took who, being born 12 weeks premature, has severe autism and learning difficulties. Hearing him talk to me and say my name for the first time solidified my decision to bring that joy to other families.

Amazing! The history of English is really fascinating to me, too. That’s such a lovely story about your cousin; I’ll ask more about your career plans in a moment. Before that, though, what did you enjoy most about university?

Oh, god… it was so long ago… 🤔

Probably the vast topics we could choose from. I’m glad that no two modules were the same. Of course, there was overlap, but you could always expect something new which kept it exciting. I would have lost my mind if it were repetitive, every class being the same!

It does seem like a lifetime ago now!
You mentioned that you decided you wanted to become a Speech and Language Therapist from a young age after watching your cousin’s inspiring journey. Is this the career path you still have in mind after completing your degree? If so, what are your plans for pursuing this?

It’s certainly something I’m still interested in. I’ve looked into placements with speech therapy centres and the possibilities of shadowing language doctors in outpatient hospitals. Unfortunately, because of the current predicament we’re in, a lot of hospitals are reluctant to hire people, wanting to keep their places of work as safe and uncontaminated as possible. I’ve realised, though, that I don’t have to rush anything – there’s no right time to do anything – and taking a walk after uni before jumping into work isn’t a bad thing. It’s quite refreshing.

I completely agree! As you said, we’re currently living in an uncertain time. How has this impacted you as a graduate, and what would you say to those completing their degrees during a pandemic?

I think it’s impacted upon what my idea of how a graduate would be living, if that makes sense? I always assumed that, once I’d graduated, I’d be able to move into my own place, have a job in my chosen field and effectively be a ‘grown up’. But this year hasn’t been like that at all – I’m 25 and still living with my parents.

I’d tell current students that this is going to be hard. It was difficult for me and I wasn’t studying in the middle of a pandemic. It will be draining, and you’ll spend days reading and writing the same essays until all you want to do is burn them. But the outcome is amazing! The accomplishment you feel when each essay is submitted, when every piece of work or exam or presentation is over, makes it all worthwhile. Don’t push yourself to breaking point, you’re only human. Do your best and don’t turn yourself into a zombie!

There’s much more to university than just the grades. Use this opportunity to turn yourself into the best version of yourself.

That’s such great advice! Every submission really is an accomplishment.
Finally, if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be?

GET MORE SLEEP!

Find yourself a HEALTHY routine that works well for you and remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. DO NOT compare yourself to others, you’re perfect just the way you are.

Preach! Thank you so much, Hannah, and all the best!

Wow! Hannah has certainly shared many words of wisdom there. Many students and graduates often feel burdened with the pressure to rush into work immediately after graduating, though Hannah reminds us of why that’s not necessary — especially in the current climate. We’re still young, so let’s enjoy our twenties while we can, right?

Did you enjoy Hannah’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring chats with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Hannah on Little Pav’s Little Chats!