Is there life after university?

Tosin talks about navigating the transition from pre to post-uni life


By Ally Faughnan


For Mental Health Awareness Week, we are opening up conversations around burnout, loneliness, self-love, and more in our burn baby burnout series. Check out Mind for more advice and support about mental health.


Whatever age or stage in your life you are, society seems to have a way of putting pressure and expectations in the mix. Social media and the 'hustle culture' of the creative industries has perpetuated this massively and only over time have I realised that it’s up to me to decide at what pace I want to go through life.


After meeting Tosin at The Thing’s networking night, it was a bit of a revelation that networking post-uni isn’t as scary as it seems. Talking with Tosin and hearing about how she transitioned from undergrad to post-grad and beyond was comforting to relate to many of her experiences, and I hope some of you can too.



How did you find the transition from undergrad to post-grad to post-uni life?


My transition from my undergrad to postgrad was not the smoothest! I studied Media and Communications at undergrad and then decided to study Art History and Museum Curating with Photography for my masters, so you can imagine how different that felt. My passion and enthusiasm helped me to get my head around the new concept of studying art history at masters level and I became confident with my ideas and art criticism and evaluation. Post-grad to post uni was much fun, yet scary because all my time was now fully mine, but also the full time job search began and that was a whole other new part of life to get used to, which I’m still navigating now even after two years of graduating.


My biggest takeaways was to enjoy myself and try new things, by putting myself out of my comfort zone, which paid off.” – Tosin

What were your biggest takeaways from university?


My biggest takeaways was to enjoy myself and try new things, by putting myself out of my comfort zone, which paid off. Also, I would say, actually talking to my tutors in office hours helped massively because I got an idea of what they were like, just as relatable individuals – a lot of them actually had really interesting and inspiring subject areas and interests. I got to ask all the questions about things I didn’t understand from lectures and seminars.



Where did the idea to start the African Style Archive come from? And do you think your studies influenced that at all?


I’ve always loved looking at collections of photographs, particularly vintage ones. There’s just something about the quality and narrative that I can derive from these photographs that appeal to me! I got the idea of digitising African style when I visited my paternal grandmother’s home in Nigeria in January 2018 after I hadn’t been there since I was a child.


Naturally, I was drawn to the photo albums (she had so many as well!) and upon looking through them I saw so many great photographs, especially studio photographs, by unknown photographers and these photos captured the style and elegance of these African people that my grandma was friends with or related to. I took snapshots on this on my iPhone and shared them on Instagram and they got such a positive reaction – so I knew then that it wasn’t just me that loved to see these photos.


I’ve always loved looking at collections of photographs, particularly vintage ones. There’s just something about the quality and narrative that I can derive from these photographs that appeal to me!” – Tosin

I started doing more research about African studio and portrait photographers and discovered the likes of Seydou Keita, Mama Casset, and many more and started collecting these photos which are now being shared on African Style Archive – so that’s the story behind it!


I think my studies have a part to play, as even on my term papers I found myself analysing the role of style and identity in various photographers’s work and exhibitions, so it is quite nice that it has all come together.



Do you have any advice for navigating the creative industries post-uni?


Networking! I can’t stress how much it’s important to do it. So, going to events, private views, exhibitions, openings etc and just meeting like minded people, who may know something or someone that will benefit your work, has proved to be great for me. Also just being around creative people in a creative space is always nice.


I think also using social media like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to connect with creative people is great because people share and post things and you find out about such amazing opportunities or programmes that you might be interested in. These platforms are good to share what you’re working on or planning on doing.


Follow Tosin on Instagram and make sure to check out the African Style Archive!