Why I hate the word ‘networking’

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I am a Literature student at University of Leeds. My life revolves around novels, plays and stacks of colour-coded notebooks. Last year, studying and getting used to living somewhere new was enough.

But this time around, I am entering my second year, and suddenly just studying doesn’t seem so important. People ask me what I want to be, and whether I’ve tried to find an internship, and tell me how important networking is. Of course these are common things to ask, but my answers are always pretty vague, and in all honesty I’m getting a bit bored by the same questions every time.

Having a successful career is a big priority for most undergraduates, and it is only natural that we should think ahead. I know of a few Law students who have deliberately chosen their course because they have a specific job in mind, which is a great position to be in. However for me this isn’t the case.

Firstly, I am doing English Literature because I enjoy it, not because I have a clear image of what I want to do. I love taking a single paragraph, or even a single line of text, and exploring all the musical, psychological and mental capacities within it. Some may say this is rather nerdy and sad, but hey it’s the truth.

Secondly, the cost of living as a student is so high that I cannot afford to be an intern. The vast majority of Literature related summer internships I have found are un-paid or poorly paid, and would require me to live away from home, which I definitely could not do without going dangerously far into my overdraft. I do keep a look-out for any oppurtunities I can find, but I feel at a slight disadvantage since I have to work over the summer.

Don’t think that I am against setting up a career. Many friends of mine have degrees which organise a lot of networking and societal activities, such as Computer Science or Economics, and they enjoy doing so. But for me at this moment in time, becoming an editor for The Gryphon (Leeds student newspaper) is good experience, and allows me to get some organisational skills to go alongside my writing.

Right now, enjoying and completing my degree is the most important thing for my future. But in all honesty, although I really want a career which I can thrive in, ultimately my job will never be the most important thing in my life. I want to maintain good relationships with my close ones, I want to read whatever I choose and have my own place one day. It’s always little things which make me happy, like buying a cute dress or spontaneously going out for a date.

So no, I don’t have a certain career in mind, and I don’t have an internship lined up. But I have discovered my passion for writing and an interest in mental health: two elements which I hope I can keep intertwining. My future may be foggy, but for now I want to keep it that way. What is life without the element of surprise anyway.

Charlie Collett

(Photo credit: https://www.brella.io/really-need-networking/)

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