Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The onslaught begins

Hello all. Busy day today. Firstly a meeting with a union colleague, then a negotiating committee meeting. Then a graduation ceremony, then a meeting about teaching, then another graduation. Then, if there's time, several beers to wash away the previous activities. So you might not hear much from me.

Graduation's a weird one. It's hot, sticky and uncomfortable sitting on the stage in full academic regalia, listening to the same speeches as previous years (yes, that's true), but it's also thrilling to see our students leave, utterly changed in a mere three (or so) years. Of course we nudge each other when those with - shall we say - patchier records get through, but you can't help but be overcome with the emotions of graduates, parents and friends at one of the biggest formal events of their lives. After this - off you go into bright, and sometimes not so bright futures. Some of you will have everything sorted out, but others won't, and I'm not surprised, given the terrible state of the economy.

If it's any consolation, I didn't have the remotest clue what I'd do. A vague idea of being a schoolteacher crossed my mind, because that's what everyone with an English degree thinks. I'd probably still be unemployed if a tutor hadn't suggested an MA. Don't rush into something just to pay the bills - if money problems are looming, do some agency work rather than commit to something hateful. Cynical Ben's a good model for this. He's done some hard, tedious, low-paid jobs in his time as he looked for something fulfilling: for him, work is what keeps him fed while he writes.

Don't be too cool to enjoy your graduation - you'll find that you don't get much gratitude and respect for your achievements in future, so soak it up today.

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