Worried about getting a post-uni job? Get over yourself first

A winning smile will only get you so far.
This just in: we’re all doomed. In 2010/2011, the number of graduates in low skilled jobs had tripled since 2006. Those that spend years breaking their hearts over essays, equations, exams and assessments could face employment as a bartender or even, dare we suggest it, a cleaner.

Shocking. Forgive me for being underwhelmed by news which seems to be supposed to strike fear and paranoia into the depths of my battered student soul. These statistics might seem a little concerning, but they don’t really come to me as any huge surprise.

Sally Hunt, of the University and College Union, said that ‘people working hard at university face an incredibly challenging jobs market’, meaning that not all students are going to trundle out of university into a high flying job.

So, not all students are going to stroll into the better paid jobs their degrees supposedly entitle them to. But, then again, let’s face it – not all students are actually ‘working hard’. Suggesting that all graduates are sufficiently qualified for particular careers, in terms of experience, academic success, and personality, is a hugely sweeping assumption. Obviously, the main aim of university is to set students up for higher paid work, but a degree alone simply does not make someone instantly employable.

There seems to be a growing perception of university as a pay-and-you-will-receive product. In the gleaming window of the imaginary ‘Future Shop’, a degree and well-paid job is tagged with the price of £27,000: banks lend us money, we pay the university, and hey presto – here’s our future. Buy your degree, slog your way through, and you’ve bought yourself onto a higher career path. A done deal, or so some might delude themselves.

Without some serious hard work, as well as the drive to get involved in extra-curricular activities other than getting Corped and waking up fully clothed in your mate’s bath tub, students are just as unemployable as those that haven’t splurged thousands of pounds on their education.

So, is it surprising that some graduates don’t go on to high flying jobs and company cars? Simply gaining a degree doesn’t place you in an elite club, providing exclusive access to a desk made of solid gold and a butler to answer your phone.

With the jobs market the way it is, academic success just isn’t enough anymore. While a first-class degree will be a pretty valuable weapon for students stumbling–blinking and defenceless–headfirst into the vicious battle for employment, that alone won’t see them on to victory.

This lazy attitude towards employment, in which some graduates see themselves as entitled to a certain level of work, is probably the very cause that leads some to miss out on the jobs they’re actually qualified for.

We might have paid our hard-earned (borrowed) cash to get onto our courses, but a degree alone is not enough. Money can’t buy you everything: least of all, a decent job.

Read more in our series on graduates’ future


8 Responses to “Worried about getting a post-uni job? Get over yourself first”

  1. Save Me

    Oh yeah and it reads as though the author believes themselves to be of a higher stature than the graduates. I can only deduct by your poor skills that the only difference is that you have taken naivety to the next level. Get better. Plz.

  2. Nastassja Thomas

    This is a point that perhaps needed to be made. There are a number of students who share the attitude that everything will/should fall into their laps no matter how lazy they are.
    Having said that, the real issue is that graduates who have worked hard in their academic, extra-curricular, social and part-time work ARE finding it extremely difficult to find a job that pays a decent living wage.
    Apart from the well documented problems in the job market related the economic situation of the last 5/6 years, there are other issues which have not been addressed here.
    For example, my personal experience has told me that employers find it difficult to see the transferable skills that come from our degree subject, only looking at the subject heading and dismiss it quickly if it doesn’t appear relevant. There is also a lack of imagination when it comes to experience – for example, what bright graduate with a good track record of working in practical roles could not perform an admin job despite not having worked in an office before?? The insistence on things like ‘office-based’ experience really gets my goat.
    In closing, I wonder whether the writer has just graduated or has walked into a job upon graduating because they seem to have little understanding of the wider issues. Either that or this is purely a rant against lazy students who feel entitled to something. Fine, but there is so much more to say on this subject.

  3. Sophie Allen

    A quick response to the comments above: I certainly didn’t aim to appear ‘of higher stature’ to graduates; this article simply highlights the fact that the challenging job market should encourage students to try their best to set themselves apart, to stand a better chance of employment in the field they’re working towards.

    I agree there are many wider problems, and this is an extremely broad issue. Take a look at some of the other articles in the graduate jobs series, which address some other ideas. It’s difficult to tackle such a topic in one comment article alone.

  4. Fletch

    One point that hasn’t been mentioned yet. When Tony Blair was prime minister, he stated that 50% of all young Brits should go to University and get a degree (the plonker). The consequence of so many more degrees out there is that they’ve now been devalued, so unfortunately a degree on its own isn’t enough anymore. I’ve recently become employed as a graduate and I can vouch that a degree only really gets you through the door for a first interview. From then on in it’s about you; be it personal, extra- curricular or work experience. So Sophie is right: a degree alone isn’t a free pass to a fat salary. Anybody thinking so is set for a rude awakening.

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