The Graduate Word: If I'd known then what I know now...

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The Independent Online

"I graduated last summer and am still working in Manchester, in the constituency office of Tony Lloyd MP. I did leave Manchester to go back home, clear off my overdraft and save some money to do an internship, but I landed on my feet with a paid opportunity.

My official job title is research assistant/caseworker and it's split into two parts. Casework involves dealing with grievances that people who live in the constituency have with public bodies. So we're there to hold the local authority and central government to account, and to help constituents to resolve their problems with them.

In terms of research responsibilities, my boss has to attend meetings and he gets tonnes of documentation in advance. He doesn't have time to read legislation, so I have to read it for him and pick out important implications. Much of the work I do is technically undemanding, but I'm guaranteed to be dealing with stuff I genuinely find interesting.

The workload itself was a shock: the individual tasks are relatively straightforward but I did have to be better organised than I'd anticipated. You have to be self-motivating - there's no one to tell you off for getting things wrong until it's far too late. If I don't keep on top of things, within two weeks, it could have quite serious consequences.

For the future, my aspiration is to move from working in parliament to working in lobbying. That's what I've been trying to get into for the last couple of months. I could do a consultancy role for five or six years and then get a lobbying role within a charity or NGO."

"One thing I would change would be to live on campus for the first year, just for the student experience. I lived with my partner, but living with people I didn't know would have been fun."

Tiana Ennamorati, English literature BA, Sussex University

"I would have gone there for a week beforehand and got to know the area. It would have given me a bit of a head start finding my way around and I think it would have given me more confidence."

Daniel Stratford, accounting and finance BA, Kingston University

"I might have picked a more intensive course. It was only six hours a week, but that meant there was a lot of hanging around. Now I am doing a PGCE course to be a primary teacher, which is 9am-4pm every day; it is a bit painful!"

Rebecca Perry, English literature BA, Bristol University

"With what I want to go into, I would have liked to have done a course that was more specialised. My course was very broad; I am kind of a jack of all trades rather than a master of one."

Philip Bartholomew, digital media development BSc, Brighton University

"I didn't think too much about the location of the university, which was quite remote. It was a great uni and it had a Student's Union bar, but that wasn't enough. I would have done some more research."

Sian Ridley, law LLB, Hertfordshire University

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