Graduation Day

Hello, my name is Taren and I am new to the Enterprise Team. I recently moved to Cardiff from Plymouth but am orgionally from Seattle. I come from a background in higher education and have in the last few years have become very intersted in enterprise education and innovative thinking.

Last week was one of my favourite times of the year, graduation. It’s an exciting time for celebrating, saying goodbye and planning ahead. I can vividly remember my graduation day and the feeling of wonderment and absolute terror coursing through me.  I was happy to move on but afraid of the unknown. 

I can also remember the first week out of University. After arriving back to my childhood bedroom, I had exactly five days to celebrate before my parents asking me the dreaded question, “What are you going to do now? “Afraid to admit that I had no idea what I wanted to do, I immediately started to panic. I had earned two BAs in history and religious studies but I had no idea what sort of career path was available for me to wander down.

Being the good historian I was, I conducted some research and concluded that my options were to undertake postgraduate study in the form of a Master’s or PhD, to apply for entry level positions to whoever was hiring, to apply to various graduate schemes or to live off of my parents until they decided to disown me. Notice that I didn’t mention self-employment as an option? This is because it never occurred to me, nor had it been communicated to me, that starting my own business was a real viable option.

Of course, I had heard of people my age, the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, starting their own internet companies or t-shirt brands, but I was no Harvard grad and I didn’t know the first thing about fashion or computers. At the time I thought that I wasn’t cool enough or clever enough to be truly innovative. In the end, I decided to stick to what I knew and applied to do a Master’s degree in history. Although I gained some valuable transferable skills through my degree, I wish that I had taken the time to explore different and more innovative options.

Maybe if I had attended a university that valued enterprise as highly as Cardiff University does, I would have focussed more heavily on what career path I wanted to follow. I am sure that people from my alma mater have set up successful, innovative and thriving businesses, but at the time I graduated I thought the only people who could be considered enterprising were people who had studied business. I wouldn’t find out until years later that media and journalism, art and design, IT, sports and fitness and banking and finance are the most popular degrees types for the self-employed.  

That’s why, today, through this blog, I want to say that it is important that graduates realise that being an entrepreneur doesn’t always mean starting your own business and it isn’t only for business students. It often means doing things a different way.  You can create a new role within a company or established organisation or contribute an idea to change the way the organisation runs its operation. Being entrepreneurial or enterprising is about being thoughtful, creative, determined and different.

To all of you recent graduates feeling unsure of yourself and apprehensive about your future. Remember, that you have options. All you need to do is to take some time to think and let your inner entrepreneur come out. I know it’s a clichéd sentiment, but the world really is your oyster and you can do whatever you want. All you need is a little gumption, and if you still feel lost, you can always pop into the Cardiff University Enterprise office to have a chat with the team and get some guidance.  We’re here to help and our services are available up to five years after graduation.

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About Taren Youngs

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Taren now lives and works in Cardiff as part of the Cardiff University Enterprise Team. As an Enterprise Officer Taren leads on the implementation of the Welsh Government funded Youth Enterprise Strategy SE HUB project and manages and coordinates an extracurricular programme of enterprise education events and activities. She also acts as a mentor to the Enactus team. Taren is dedicated to the student experience and to working with students as partners in both business and learning.