An Interview With An Oxford University Graduate: Part Two

Here is the second installment of the inspirational interview with an Oxford University graduate (click here to read the first part). These sets of questions deal specifically with hindsight and how to deal with success and failure:

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would advise my younger self not to panic: things work out, one way or another! Above all, I’d say make the most of the GCSE years and try not to let your identity get too tied to work. Socially, I’d tell the younger me to make sure you appreciate your friends because you’ll miss them when they’re not a big part of your life anymore.

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?

That ‘thin’ doesn’t necessarily equal ‘pretty’. That ‘clever’ doesn’t equal ‘happy’. That there’s a world out there waiting to be explored.

What does success mean to you?

My definition of success has changed slightly since leaving university. Throughout school and higher education, I was focused on getting the best grades I possibly could: I thought this would make me happy and successful. I’m starting to realise that success is about achieving balance: managing to do as well as you can in as many areas of life as you can, without getting stressed out or overreaching yourself.

When did you consider yourself successful?

I still don’t consider myself ‘successful’ – I’d say it’s a process, rather than an end goal! I’ve had successes in my life, certainly (and lots of failures too), and I’m sure that there are many more of both to come in the future.

Have you had to make any difficult career choices?

Fortunately not: I’ve only applied for one job since leaving uni, and luckily it’s worked out. So I didn’t have any tough decisions to make!

What led you to your current career path?

My current career path resulted from trial and error and a healthy dose of chance. I undertook internships in a variety of areas I was interested in – from teaching to translation to arts and heritage – and found that ultimately, none of those was for me. I applied for my current role, got it on what seemed like a lucky fluke, and am now hoping I will enjoy it!

How do you cope with failure?

I cope with failure by feeling disappointed, letting it all out to a friend or family member, and then by reapplying myself and giving 110%.

What mistakes have you made on your path to success?

I applied for a job at my Oxford college over the summer and managed to mess up the interview spectacularly – I thought it was a sure thing, so I didn’t bother preparing as well as I could have done. As an Oxford University graduate, I can say that certainly taught me the importance of preparation!


I would like to send a special thanks to my anonymous Oxford University graduate for imparting such important knowledge on us all. Through such concise yet powerful words she has shown us all that success and achievement are completely within our reach and that the journey is just as important as the destination.



Photo courtesy of pixabay
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