Graduation: A world of war and famine?
As many of us prepare to launch ourselves into the job market, it is hard not to feel disheartened by the gloomy statistics bellowing out from the “real world” and, let us not forget, our unflattering status as the ‘jinxed’ generation.
Gone are the days when an education actually meant something and where talent would adequately propel you into your first job within your chosen profession.
Let’s face it, a fair few of us will be working in Starbucks next year, or otherwise sacrificing our career goals for the highest paid job offer in sales or marketing.
A minimum wage welcome?
According to official data, 25 per cent of 21-year-olds who graduated from university in 2011 were unemployed. One has to wonder whether the remaining 75 per cent actually found work in their chosen fields.
Low-skilled occupations are where many graduates find themselves after university, with 35.9 per cent from the previous six years working as waiters, bar staff and retail assistants.
Ironically, before returning to full-time education last year I was working minimum wage in a warehouse where 95 per cent of my colleagues also possessed either an arts or humanities degree.
Within seconds of my arrival almost everyone introduced themselves as being on the brink of quitting and merely biding their time before “the dream job” becomes available. However, when I left just over one year later, only one in ten had actually gone on to greater things.
The UK sinks back into recession
Several days ago Britain was officially declared back in recession after the economy shrank 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. While this double-dip slump, the first since the ‘70s, is unlikely to last, economists believe that no major improvements are likely to happen anytime soon.
This has come as a blow to the Coalition's debt-management austerity measures, which continues to smother growth by taking money out of the pockets of consumers.
The unpaid hustle
When we started our MA course in October the majority of international students expressed a desire to remain in the UK after graduating.
However, after realising how hard it is here to secure even an unpaid work placement, this enthusiasm has gradually developed into a realisation that there are more opportunities in their respective countries.
So what does this mean for those of us without an international working visa?
A lot depends on what you are studying, your contacts and how much experience you’ve managed to accumulate over the past few years. These days even graduate positions, previously reserved for academics fresh out of uni, come with a demand for prior experience.
This emphasises the importance of the contentious internship, a work-for-free in exchange for “experience” scheme that unfortunately, like many things today, favours the wealthy.
Experience, Persistence and Determination
With several internships in hand, and one or two contacts, you will at least have a slight advantage over the thousands of other graduates set to flood an already saturated job market.
Experience, persistence and determination are key to bucking the recent trend of gloom, together, of course, with a bit of luck. For all my cynical talk, I believe that a down to earth approach and shameless determination will, with plenty of patience, eventually yield the desired results.
For now, we can take comfort in all the extra knowledge acquired during our time in higher education, while surviving on a diet of pasta, tap water, and a weekly luxuries expenditure budget of £5 a week.
However, for all the malnutrition and stressful deadlines that we've so far encountered, the true struggle has yet to begin.