Why I’m fed up of graduates
June was a big month for me. A real milestone. Well, technically, I suppose it was more of a milestone for the majority of my friends. Why? Because this was when most of my year group graduated.
I remember feeling really blue when they all headed off all over the country – and in one or two cases, to another country. Still, at least I got the opportunity to travel all over to see them, from Cardiff to Nottingham to Exeter. One or two even had nice accommodation.
So, while I was looking forward to seeing more of them in London where we all live, I wasn’t without a bit of worry.
How would I feel when they all came back from uni with their degrees, drinking stories and new friends?
Where would I be when they all shot off to well paid graduate jobs in the City, in the professions or in the arts world?
Actually, I felt pretty good.
Because with the exception of a very few, they fled back to their mum and dad’s. And, as for searching for work. Let’s just say I didn’t get any sense of urgency on that front.
In fact, it gets worse.
I bumped into a friend walking to the Tube one morning. A Bristol uni graduate no less. Without any irony, he told me, how he and many of his mates, felt they weren’t quite ready for the working world and would be taking a second gap year. Because – wait for it – if not now, then when?
Hmmmm…OK. Lucky people. Each to their own, eh? And they’ll be in a small but privileged minority. They’ll learn!
When I met up with some other recently graduated friends a few weeks later, to my genuine shock and dismay, I learned that they too would be off to travel the world for six months.
So, how were all these trips being funded I asked – starting to get a bit irritated.
“Well it’s just ridiculous,’ said one ‘I obviously need to make some money to take with me but no one will offer me a job because I want to leave in April – and that’s when I’m planning to go! How unfair is that?” I suppressed an urge to shout.
“Oh I’m having the same problem!” said another. “Ideally, I’d like an internship but most of the internships I’ve seen are not in the industries I’m that interested in. And, one website I looked up which did have good ones, said I had to make a video CV but that’s not really my thing so I think I’ll give that a miss….” I was reduced to stunned silence. That’s unusual by the way.
Er, hello? Earth to graduates…are you receiving me?
A lot’s been written on this site about how employers are finding more and more graduates arrive at an interview with a massive sense of entitlement. Entitlement? I call it arrogance. And, I don’t really know what annoys me more – or even if I should be annoyed at all. But, WTF are universities doing to advise their graduates about life outside the bubble? That there’ll be loads of jobs and scores of employers eager to take you into their organisation? That their degrees will be a passport to employment? Or that perhaps, new graduates should take a few months off to travel and get over the stress of three years getting pissed and living on crap food?
I know. This is a gross generalisation. And, I don’t want to sound bitter jealous, or even smug.
But I do know how tough it is to get decent work – degree or no degree. Employers now value soft skills – loyalty, ambition and integrity. You can learn these through working in a bar, on a construction site or volunteering for a charity. What’s unlikely is that you’ll pick up much in this department from hanging out at beach bars in Vietnam or watching sunsets in Australia.
You want to travel? Great. Go. But why not combine it with doing some overseas aid work for a charity? You’ll put something back into society and pick up some skills that are a bit more useful for the real world. In short, you’ll actually have something to talk abut – that somebody will be interested to hear.
Have you had similar conversations? Let us know – we’d love to share!