As a Graduate, Here’s What I Did Next
I had no idea what to do in life.
Well, not completely.
I am Viraj. I’m a 2019 Economics graduate from the University of Royal Holloway. After completing my degree, I knew one thing for certain: the subject of economics and the traditional route into finance was not a career path that I wanted to pursue any longer.
I can only imagine you must be thinking right now, “That was a complete waste of money.” Well, keep reading if you feel like taking a break from your day-to-day mundane schedule. This story gets interesting.
I embarked on what most people call a sabbatical after Uni. I guess my extended leave was from traditional education. It’s now almost coming up to a year and I have enjoyed discovering and redefining myself to be ‘future-fit’. It started with an immense European road trip through 16 countries spread over three months and circa 7,000 kilometres. It was beyond phenomenal.
When people say that it sounded like a trip of a lifetime, it was! Whilst this journey allowed me to let my hair down, it also served the purpose of unraveling the institutionalised nature of my mind from years of following a pre-made life script. The exposure to cultures that I had previously only heard about and seen glamorised on social media, I had the opportunity to live among, if only for a short while. If anything, Europe showed me that there were many ways to have a more meaningful life.
On returning to the UK after city-hopping through Europe, I had a one-month turnaround before starting my new adventure in India. Just before leaving, this new European outlook to life I gained, empowered me to begin to build out a business idea that ventured into the world of Edu-tech.
Essentially, I was trying my hand at the start-up world so that I could show a “tangible” product from my time in India apart from all the travelling. The app was aimed at helping children in education and how to aid them to make better decisions for their future. When I talked to friends and family I would explain the value it would provide and because it had the word ‘app’ and ‘tech’ in the same sentence they simply jumped to the conclusion I was working on the next billion-dollar innovation, when in fact it was there to help children through some very difficult times!
I had never developed an app before or even knew how to flesh out an idea like this, so I was really out of my depth. However, after some deep market research and analysis, I developed a product backlog supported with a lean business canvas (a Business Plan). During this period I learnt a lot about myself and how much traditional degrees do not prepare you at all for the reality that is life. More importantly, I recognised that the vision I had for this product was based on a deeper psychological understanding of children and how they develop through the early years of their education. After I delved into the detail I quickly realised the depth of the subject and how much I did not know, including the initial funding to get the 1st minimal viable product (MVP) live. This, more importantly, meant I had to also learn how to shelf an idea, an action that I aspire to be able to do with more ease over time. I hope in the future to be able to pick up where I left off, as for the 1st time in my life I had a clear sense of purpose and a way to start, stop and take away actionable learnings.
Throughout my time in India while trying to develop the app, I had taken up yoga, attending a local morning class. In the beginning, it was a love-hate relationship. I even recall ridiculing it with a friend of mine, calling it a fancy form of stretching. As time passed and the practice became more routine, I realised it was much more than just “stretching” and decided with some encouragement to undertake a yoga teacher training course at a local Bangalore institute. This came with the idea that I could potentially become a ‘yogi’ when I returned to the UK, and develop this into a business around health, fitness and nutrition. I even started to research how to maintain a plant-based diet whilst in India. I soon discovered that Indians have been doing it here for over 5,000 years. I was forced to postpone the course due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, but despite this, I maintained a daily practice to stay sane.
During this period, days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and it seemed an eternity before the penny dropped. Now, I am able to openly talk about the struggle around what to do with my career. More recently, I know what I don’t want, and that is to mindlessly wander through my life as part of the usual corporate rat race. I understand that some individuals love the routine of traditional 9 to 5 work, but not me! I am in a unique situation where I can pursue whatever I would like, but due to so much choice, I am overwhelmed with where to start.
Fast forward to the present day, stuck in quarantine, still in India, thinking about how I am going to bring my dream life into reality. I reflect as part of a daily journal and meditate to help my inner development, which is supported by my breath work and yoga practice. I feel now I have a method of weighing up the options, and I will be following a career to enjoy the things I love.
For now, I have started preparing for a scrum master certification and investigating the best practices of business analysis to prepare myself for a traditional career. Yup, I have kinda come full circle. This is alongside experimenting with a YouTube channel, an Instagram account and a Podcast to better understand the powers of digital marketing, this I think is the new future for me. Watch this space as I grow using these platforms as a way to share my journey and provide value to others.
The key learning from this journey is that in life we are never explicitly taught how to deal with every challenge that is thrown our way, we usually overthink and our minds try to play out every possible scenario which can take us into a downward spiral. To prevent this I have realised one very important learning.
Just START. It is that simple.
Pick anything and see if you like it, don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Through the process, I have discovered that you learn new skills which can open up opportunities in the future but you have to start somewhere and commit to a sensible period to move forward.
I do not know where this journey will take me, but one thing I have realised is that if I don’t take control of what I want to do in my life, then someone else will write my life script for me. So I now like to treat life as a series of experiments and strive to find what works for me.
If you’ve got this far in this article and are about to return to your mundane schedule or scroll mindlessly through your social media feeds, pause, reflect for a moment and ask yourself…