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  • Antonia Quinn

Gradua-tingz: Three tauira reflect on life after graduation

It’s the end of another academic year (āmine!) and for some, graduation is just around the corner. Maybe you've lined you up a job for 2023, have been accepted into an internship or graduate programme, you're about to take a gap year, or you're still unsure on your next steps. It's a big deal leaving university, and it's normal to feel nervous or for plans to change. But don't take our word for it!

Te Pararē got the lowdown from three recent graduate tauira on how they navigated the transition from “student life” to “adulting”.

The graduates:

Emma Jonathan

Nō Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Awa

Graduated with a Bachelor of Commercial Music in 2021

Currently studying a Master of Teaching and Learning (Primary)

Scarlett Travers

Nō Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa

Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Development Studies with a minor in French in 2020

Christian Hawira-Seanoa

Nō Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Tokelau

Completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts

Would you say that you’re a planner, or are you someone that just goes with the flow?

Emma: I feel like I'm a bit of both. I'm an overthinker so I love to plan things but I feel like I'm pretty chill. I try to take as many opportunities as I can. Since my music degree I've been getting a lot of emails about recording music, they're also emailing about using a song from my EP. I've had a few gigs in October and it feels like my music is taking off after I've finished my degree - so I just wanna promote that.

Christian: I'd say I'm a planner, but once something disrupts my plans or I complete them, I just go with the flow. Better than stressing out and overthinking.

Scarlett: Probably go with the flow, but I feel happier and less anxious when I do have a plan.

If I had planned all of this stuff after uni I don't think I'd be where I am now, but by going with the flow I was able to get to where I am by simply talking to new people. When lockdown happened, everyone was told not to plan long term. It was almost like you had to plan week by week because things could change overnight. That's why working at Whittakers was the best for me at the time, because instead of waiting to hear back from other jobs if I had been accepted, everything was put on hold.

Did you know what you wanted to do after your studies?

Emma: Yes I did. Even before I started my bachelors I was always going to do teaching, but because it's postgrad you had to study something else beforehand, so I thought, why not study something I love and am passionate about?

Scarlett: Not at all. After I got a role in recruitment I never expected to be full-time after uni in a corporate office. I expected to see myself overseas, I knew I just wanted to go traveling, working, or volunteering overseas. VSA always stood out to me but they were pretty much cancelled in 2020.

Christian: No, because I had too many plans and too many options!! I was considering postgrad study, but then I wanted to just get a job so I didn't have more student loan debt (apply for those iwi grants e hoa ma lol). Then I just wanted to do nothing for a year and just travel and see the world since the world was opening up! I ended up deciding on starting my postgrad studies.

Did COVID-19 affect any of your plans prior to graduating?

Emma: Not really, it was more during the middle of studies when it was really hard. The only thing that really affected me was not having any equipment at home so I had to record off my phone. Also, when we got back to uni not being able to use the practice rooms and having to book things out all the time. But come the final year I was lowkey just over it and just wanted to finish.

Scarlett: Heeeeelll yea, all of my plans. The plan was to go overseas after uni. Instead my thought process was to save up, get a job as much and wait for the borders to open. Everyone was applying for jobs because everyone was stuck in New Zealand, especially for graduate roles and internships. I applied for about 10-12 different roles, primarily in government, and even random ones like at the Red Cross. I ended up working at the Whittakers Chocolate Factory through someone I knew, which is not what I always wanted to do but I needed money and worked on a fixed term. I did love it, and I talked to the HR manager one day and she wanted to help me find a new job.

Christian: Not really as I was part-way through my degree, so if anything it affected my studies more than my future plans. I ended up delaying my studies because I found it hard to study from home and the lack of communication.

If you could talk to yourself before starting your final year of study, what advice would you give?

Emma: I would say just be open and vulnerable to new things. Mostly take risks and be out there because I feel like I didn't do that. Just don't be afraid to try new things out especially with making connections and making relations with people in my course.

Scarlett: It's gonna be okay. I was pretty unhappy having no job and working as a factory worker, although there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you are doing something, trying new things and meeting new people you'll be alright. And ask people for help! I only started doing that at the start of 2021 but as soon as you start going "hey I'm really interested in this" just be open. It's crazy how far you can go just by talking to people.

Christian: Ka aroha! Nah, I'd tell myself exactly what I told myself when I began studying, which was to enjoy it. And e hoa ma, it's not the end of the world if you choose not to finish your studies.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.


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