HC Grad Life: Jess Connolly

Last week, our lovely Jess Lord caught up with Jess Connolly, last year's Campus Correspondent, to talk about life as a graduate student in the context of our journalism-focused week. Since graduating, she has successfully set up and been running her wonderful blog, Highlighting the North East. Gain some insight into her plans, blog and graduate life - from one Jess to another!

Hi Jess! Thanks for chatting to us! Tells us a little bit about what you’ve been up to since graduating from Durham. Are you working/studying/travelling?

So at the minute I'm working full time and running my own blog! I absolutely love writing and always have done, so it made sense to carry on writing after university. My next goal is to get into the Content Marketing industry, and hopefully my blog will help me do just that! Other than working and writing, I've been doing a fair bit of travelling - it's nice to actually have money coming into the bank so I've put it to good use by travelling to Barcelona, New York and Rome in the last few months.

What’s the best thing about post-degree life?

It sounds strange, but I'd probably say having a routine is the best thing. Being a History student meant that I had very few contact hours and a whole lot of free time on my hands, which was nice some days, but other days I ended up watching far too much Netflix. Like I said before, it's nice to have a wage coming in, so I can go on weekends away with my boyfriend and go for meals and days out with friends! What do you miss about Durham? What would you love to go back and do again if you could?

I miss a lot of things about Durham really. But thankfully I only live ten minutes away on the train, so it's not too bad! I really miss my part-time job at Tealicious Tearoom - the staff and customers there always made my day. I obviously miss Her Campus too! It was so nice in my final year to meet new people from different colleges and degree courses, and do lots of fun things like going for Spags meals and to the cinema!

Tell us a little about the blog you run! What is it about? Where can we find it?

My blog, 'Highlighting the North East' combines two things I am really passionate about: writing, and the North East of England. It's a lifestyle/travel blog where I post about the best things to see/do and the best places to go in the region, based on my own experiences. The blog has been a real success and I've even started getting invites for restaurant openings and other press events, which is scary but exciting! Here's a link to my website if you fancy checking it out: https://highlightingthenortheast.com/. I'm also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so feel free to follow me for recommendations and advice about the wonders of the North East of England.

You were Campus Correspondent for HerCampus Durham in 2016/17 - what was the best thing about being CC? Do you miss it?

Being CC for Her Campus Durham was probably the best thing I did during my time at Uni. The practical experience it gave me, in terms of copywriting, editing and analytical work, stood me in good stead for setting up my own blog, and hopefully getting a marketing job! More than anything though, I miss my fellow CC, the lovely Charlie, and the rest of my fantastic exec and dedicated writers. You all made the experience so worthwhile and rewarding.

And finally... any tips for many soon-to-be graduates? It’s such an exciting but scary prospect!

I think many people will agree that being a graduate is never quite how you expect it. There are those lucky people who propel straight onto a great grad scheme and love it, but I'd say the vast majority of graduates are still finding their feet! My best piece of advice would be not to panic: most of you who are graduating are in your very early twenties, and you have a whole career left ahead of you. It really doesn't matter if you don't know straightaway what you want to do, and you're probably better off trialling a few things before you jump into a long-term job. Explore, find out what you're passionate about, and then make your decision! Another thing: I had a bit of a moment the other week when I was driving to Asda on my way home from work to pick up drain cleaner. I realised that the best thing you can do while you're still at uni is to enjoy not having to be an adult just yet!