Starting university at 25, Stephanie’s story from waitress to marketing (UK)

A new mature student story to add to our blog. In this post you can read “Stephanie’s story, from waitress to marketing.” Stephanie started university at 25 as a mature student to change career.

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Starting University at 25, Stephanie’s successful story

Hi everyone, my name is Stephanie and I’m a 29 years old junior marketing agent. Yes, junior at 29! I started university at 25 as a mature student and I graduated at 28 with a 2:1 degree in Marketing.

For the past year I have been working for a marketing agency on a temporary term which hopefully will become permanent soon. I’m turning 30 soon and that would be the best gift possible! Before that I had been working pretty much all my life in the hospitality industry as a waitress.

Why did you decide to start university at 25?

Can I just say I had enough of my job? I wanted to get out of the hospitality industry, being a waitress was slowly consuming me. The abuse I received at work from customers and managers was unbearable. It was ok for a few years, but it got worse and worse. I was constantly tired, stressed and had no social life.

It felt like I was becoming a different person, it wasn’t me anymore. As time went by I lost contact with pretty much all my friends; I just could not meet them, I was working every time when they were free. My colleagues replaced my old time friends basically, but it wasn’t the same.

I changed workplace few times, always hoping for a better place. That also meant changing “friends” constantly, which wasn’t ideal to establish meaningful relationships. I hated my job, I hated being a waitress, serving other people with that fake smiley face while in reality I wanted to get out of that job asap.

Also, what about my future? I was 25 and my body was already starting to wear and tear like an old car! Sore legs, back pain and I felt more stressed than a mother of 10 kids. It wasn’t sustainable, I needed a change in my life, I needed an outlet for my frustration, something to keep me “alive”. A university degree sounded about right, that’s why I decided to start university at 25.

Choosing the right degree as a mature student

Honestly I did not really have a specific interest. So I explored subjects like history, psychology, law; but the one that attracted me the most was marketing. What got me was to understand how companies, big brands in particular, make us addicted to their products through marketing and advertising.

I genuinely loved my degree, and I was able to pick interesting modules around psychology too, which was anther area I wanted to explore. I had few mental break downs and anxiety issues at university. Let’s say that my mental health has impacted my final grade, particularly in my last year.

I graduated with a 2:1 which for many students is seen as a “failure”. For me it was a success, changing my life and proving myself I could do it. Obviously I would have much loved to get a first, but it wasn’t my main goal.

How to fit into the university environment as a mature student?

I didn’t really have much problems with university life as a mature student. There is no law that says we should all live it the same way! For me it was easier, because although I fell into the mature student category, my life wasn’t mature at all yet.

I had no kids, I wasn’t in a meaningful relationship, I had no major restrictions basically. Moreover, I shared a flat with other three students in their 20s, which helped me fit into the university environment as a mature student. I guess most mature students don’t or can’t do that, understandably.

It was a bit weird at the beginning, although on paper the age gap with them was ridiculous, in reality it looked like I was the big sister! I mean, I started university at 25 not at 80, but it really looked like that lol

As time went by we became really close to each other, and we still are. I didn’t go out partying as much as they did, but it happened at times. Plus I always worked part time as a waitress (that reminded me how much I hated my job and needed to complete my degree); so I didn’t have much spare time.

In terms of proper university life as a mature student, nothing different from others! I made use of the library like everyone else, I attended classes, tutorials and took part in other activities.

Finding a graduate job as a mature student

I had this fear when I started, that nobody would hire me because I would graduate at 28. Again, I don’t think there was any difference. I looked and applied for jobs just like other students did, and I was quite proactive in doing it.

In reality, most of the interviews I had for internships and graduate jobs focused a lot on my work experience in hospitality. You know all those questions like “tell me a time when”? I didn’t have to lie or prepare in advance, I could easily relate to my work experience as a waitress and provide good examples!

Before going into my my last year of university I sourced myself a summer internship in marketing. It was for a relatively small marketing agency (around 50 employees), that made me feel I could really make it as a mature student!

It was a fantastic experience and I put a lot of effort in it, I wanted to leave a good impression of me. Unlike in hospitality, I was actually praised and rewarded for doing “extra” bits (like staying a bit longer).

The same agency contacted me again few months into my last year offering me a 1 year contract as a junior marketing agent once I’d graduated! So here I am, working in marketing and not as a waitress anymore.

Starting university at 25, was it worth it?

Oh hell yes, one hundred percent. Going to university at 25 changed my life completely, which was my main goal. Getting used to a new life, a new industry and colleagues took a while, but the most important thing is that I’m finally happy now.

I’m just waiting for my line manager to get her budget approved, and then I’ll become a permanent marketing professional! For all those who think it’s too late that you are doomed to a life you don’t like, I just want to say that you always have a choice!

I know what it feels like to be trapped in a job you hate, in a life that just does not suit you! I hope my story can somehow inspire you to do the same, take back control of your life.

Thank you Stephanie!

Thank you Stephanie for sharing your amazing story, I think many can relate to that feeling of being trapped in a job they don’t like. You’re right, you always have a choice!

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