First off, how are you and how is your 2021 going?
Thank you for asking!!! I’m doing good, the light at the end of the tunnel is really getting me through. I have missed my family and friends so much over the last year so being able to see my family outside last week after the first lot of lockdown lifted was just amazing. I am just so excited about a ‘potential’ summer with them! The Gals Who Graduate community has also really got me through the last year, the girls on there have been such a massive support during this time so I am grateful for them. Being able to meet new people on our virtual events and take part in things like our book club has weirdly made me feel like I have still been socialising despite not actually having left my bedroom and has definitely helped in moments where I’ve had a wobble.
Can you tell us about your journey online and how it’s evolved?
When I started Gals Who Graduate it was just a small closed Facebook group mainly made up of my friends when we all left uni – pretty much all saying ‘does anyone know what we are meant to be doing right now?’ 😂. I never saw it growing to this size so the fact that we now have over 45,000 girls is more than I could have ever imagined! Since then, the group has evolved in so many different ways; we now have a book club (gals who read), a fitness club (gals who sweat) and 12 subgroups for our busiest cities around the UK. I think the rate at which the group has grown over the last year is such a clear reflection of the support that we have all craved and it’s no secret that students in particular really have had a rough ride so I am so pleased that they have been able to seek support through the group and the other girls on there.
Gals Who Graduate is a fantastic initiative, can you explain what it provides?
Thank you so much!! Gals Who Graduate is an online support network for female students and graduates transitioning between University and the workplace. We have a busy closed Facebook group which offers a safe space for women to find friends, jobs, advice and industry connections. Our Instagram page is full of encouraging and empowering content including our graduate takeovers and inspirational quotes.
Before COVID-19 we hosted in person events around the UK for the girls to meet and network and since lockdown have continued these virtually through things like our wine and chat evenings, book club and a particular favourite of mine, our 2020 virtual graduation ceremony.
We have also branched into the career side of things, starting to offer girls on the group job oppourtnities through our partnerships. This began with our first ever free Careers Fair that we ran late last year which was hosted by a variety of successful business women keen to share their wealth of knowedlge, experience and advice with a younger generation of females looking to kickstart their careers. We got such brilliant support from this and have since partnered with two of the businesses to help them fulfil their graduate places with women from our network.
In addition to all of the above we also host mentoring sessions run by experts, offering student advice on topics like mental health, recruitment tips and career advice.
What inspired you to start Gals Who Graduate?
I started Gals Who Graduate when I finished my last day of university in 2019. I had just moved all my stuff back to my parent’s house and felt so lost, I knew I had a whole summer full of uncertainty and questions being asked like ‘so what’s next?’. I had spoken to friends at Uni who felt exactly the same and after researching post-university depression I realised there was no support out there for recent graduates so I started the closed Facebook group the same night I moved back.
The last year must have been extremely hard for graduates, what is your advice to those, now the world is opening back up?
Being a graduate is hard enough anyway, so graduating during a pandemic just adds 10 times the stress – HUGE respect to all of you.
Remind yourself of what you have just been through, completing a degree in itself let alone during a pandemic is AMAZING so give yourself a big hug for that!
Rememeber, there is no rush, do things at your own pace and time.
Everyone has different routes after university so don’t put pressure on yourself and think that you have to have your life sorted as soon as you graduate – this should be an exciting time do explore lots of different options!
Try not to fixate on getting your dream job post Uni – I’m sure if you speak to most people who are 10 or so years into their careers, you’ll probably find it’s not the same job they got as a graduate.
You have to try things to know what you do and don’t like so, say yes to everything, any job is a good job and get out there!
Good luck, I’m sure you’ll all smash it!
Where can you see Gals Who Graduate going and what are some of your dreams for the business?
The core of Gals Who Graduate will always be a safe place for female students and graduates to go when they need support. In terms of the future, my dream is for us to be able to continue helping give women a step up into whatever industry they choose from University, whether that’s through resources we can share, job opportunities we can promote or business connections we can make.
What are your top 3 tips for any graduates currently looking for work?
Give your CV to a friend to glance at and then get them to write down 5 things they can remember – this will tell you what main things stand out at first glance on your CV and if that wasn’t what you were looking for, change it!
There are some amazing free online courses available – use them to further your CV whilst you look for a job.
Tell anyone and everyone that you are looking for a job – you never know who is listening that might be hiring!
What are you currently working on?
We are currently expanding our career opportunities within Gals Who Graduate which is SO exciting! We have partnered with a couple of businesses already this year, offering job opportunities to women on the group so would love to continue to grow in this area – anyone currently hiring and looking to employ some amazing recent graduates (if we may say so ourselves) hit us up!!!
Who are some of your favourite follows online?
Since starting Gals Who Graduate I have connected with some incredible women – these three gals are recent graduates from the community:
@wellwitholi – for all things student wellbeing & positivity
@allthingsmoney – for all things student money (!)
@haribeavis – for all things student food
What does your perfect weekend look like?
At the moment in lockdown I am loving my long walks (lol me and the rest of the UK!). But yes, a nice long walk through London and then to make the weekend feel like a weekend normally a takeaway and film is my go-to. Seeing London this quiet is crazy but I am trying to make the most of it before busy London is back to normal! Outside of lockdown I’m happiest when surrounded by my family and friends and more often than not some yummy food.
What do you always carry with you?
A year ago I would have said my keys and phone but now it’s definitely a face mask and hand sanitiser! I think we can all relate to that feeling of getting to the supermarket and realising you’ve forgotten your face mask – the worst!
What would your last ever meal be?
I’ve really got into cooking during lockdown, it’s been such a nice activity to get into in the evenings and I have to say I am guilty of trying a TikTok trend – big fan on the feta & tomato TikTok pasta! It’s delicious!
What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience
A quote I heard when I was at school which has stayed with me throughout my life is ‘what if I fail, oh but what if you fly’. Turning your mindset around when doubting yourself will make you take those risks that might turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done!!! GO FOR IT GALSSS xxxx Sending my love to each and everyone of you and thank you so much to the Zoella team for having me!!!