After the fog of January exams clears, university feels more positive. Spring is on the way, tickets for the infamous Summer Ball are released, and students begin planning their three months of summer. Everyone, that is, apart from the final year students. After we’ve submitted those ten thousand dreaded words and recovered from our caffeine and pizza diet, what’s next?

“Get a job, obviously!” you might say. Every student hopes they’ll walk out of uni and straight into employment. Some might already have a job lined up for when they graduate. This is the happy ending of the student fairytale. Like every fairytale, there are twists, turns, temptations and people trying to persuade you to their way of thinking. Before we can declare a happily ever after, students have a couple more months to make some important decisions. An average of 200,000 students graduate in the UK each year, and as a student myself, I’ll ask the question on everyone’s lips – where do we go?

The Big Smoke

Let’s be honest, there is no place like London. Beautiful architecture, a guaranteed coffee on every corner, and an undeniable sense of ambition. For many students, London is the place to aim for. They thrive on the hustle and bustle, promise of a higher salary and excitement of working in one of Europe’s busiest cities. Much of the world-renowned creative work has come from the talented minds within London agencies, and this is something to be extremely proud of.

From the early days of university life, lecturers start sentences with, “If you’re aiming for a career in London…”. From this moment on, students have it drilled into them that London means success. London means a degree was worthwhile. You’ll feel accomplished. Clever. Important. Let’s not deny it; those of us who have completed placements in London will feel proud to say, “Yes, I worked in London”. It just sounds impressive. The London agency experience is one that does not compare to others.

On the other hand, TechNation recently released a report detailing statistics that suggest staying in Bournemouth to start a digital career may be worthwhile. With 15,763 digital jobs and an average advertised digital salary of £39,508, why would you want to leave this beautiful seaside town?

Money matters

After struggling on little or no income as students, money is centred in our minds. What we’d love is to pay the rent without worrying about how we’ll afford next month’s train home for Easter. While it’s comforting to know that soon, this won’t be a worry, students should also be encouraged not to place salary expectations over job suitability.

It’s my bet that while searching for jobs online, the majority of eyes will instantly be drawn to salary, rather than job specification. We’ve come to a point where we would accept a job we might not particularly enjoy, for the reward of a higher salary. This opens up another question – are we using our skills and talents in the best possible way?

The bottom line is, there is a lot of pressure on students to aim for London, a large agency, or highly paid position. The truth is, we are not all suited to the London lifestyle, or we might simply have wishes to build a life somewhere else. Maybe an agency in a smaller town is offering a job where all your skills can be utilised, rather than just a couple. Instead of encouraging students to aim for the big bucks, shouldn’t we be encouraging them to aim for a job they love?

Seeking and accepting a career elsewhere is not a trait that should be looked down on, or as a lack of ambition. There are gems of creative talent all over the UK – we just have to be brave enough to explore them.

Size matters

If you work for a large agency or organisation, you have the name under your belt. You’ve worked for famous brands and can claim a part in the creation of some extremely successful campaigns. This is a great achievement, and definitely in line with what thousands of students across the UK. are hoping for.

That said, smaller agencies are paramount to preparing students for the world of employment. In a small team, you are likely to be encouraged to spread your skills into different areas of the business. This is a fantastic benefit; not only are you assisting your team with what they need, but you are developing your skills even further than you might have in a large organisation. You have the opportunity to view an entire project from beginning to end.

And they all lived…

…in the place best suited to them. This has been a very brief insight into the numerous considerations floating around the minds of students. Everyone will be making different choices and heading in different directions to their friends. They might even be heading in a different direction to the one they originally planned for themselves. The most important thing to remember, is that not everyone has the same ending in mind. There are opportunities everywhere, to suit everyone – this is what makes the creative industries so incredible.

As for my own next steps, they’re yet to be finalised. In fact, the image of my future career changes from day to day. I have been lucky enough to have become a part of an amazing team in Bournemouth. When I applied for my ten-month industrial placement over two years ago, I never imagined I’d still be sitting in the bright, colourful walls of the Createful studio today. For some people, staying in Bournemouth may sound like the easy option. However, for me, it was important to end up in a place where I could not only build upon my skills, but also somewhere I felt happy to spend eight and a half hours a day. I found it at Createful.

I don’t know what’s around the corner, but I do know one thing. Exploring options outside of London resulted in me quickly becoming a part of an extremely talented and genuinely lovely team who are always happy to help – and they still can’t get rid of me!