I’m going to deviate a bit from ‘what I did next’ to the wider graduate job scene. It’s (obviously) something close to my heart, and that fills up quite a lot of my brain. It’s everywhere. And it makes you think.
Figures released this week say that almost a million People Like Me are currently out of work. One million. That struck a chord with me and my whinging earlier on in this blog. Maybe even I didn’t realse the reality of the situation. One million… I really am lucky to have this job, even if it wasn’t that fun t to begin with. It made me feel for all those jobhunters out there. I mean, I am jobhunting, but I’m also doing this. And if scrolling through job websites was all I was doing, all day every day? I’d want to kill myself.
I’m really not joking – I can get quite down in the dumps, and it makes me wonder what my generation’s mental health is going to start to look like. It is the most demoralising thing to know how good you are, but also that you have absolutely zero chance of being recognised. Ok, not zero – but with however many hundred competing for every job, any job, there’s pretty much always going to be someone chosen over you.
This job stuff is also occupying mediaspace even more prominently at the moment thanks to a BBC3 featurette this week called ‘Up For Hire’. Every night this week 4 unemployed young people are going to be on my TV, having been given mini placements in everything from menial to CEO level for one week.
I got quite angry watching it last night (my housemates have started to notice I’m quite an angry TV-watcher – thank God The Apprentice hasn’t started yet!). There was one guy who was basically saying he felt he was ‘above’ menial work, even as a means to an end, to tide him over until he got to a position where he could ‘do what he wanted to do’. That struck a chord with me, as ‘getting where I want to be’ is the real force behind this blog. ‘Getting there’ is a journey: it has a start, a middle and a final, shiny, sparkly destination. But saying that as a graduate you’re ‘above’ that kind of thing, the getting there part? Sorry, did you think you were owed something?
It really angered me. Like I’ve said before, I really have started to believe that Uni kind of lies to you about what the jobs market is really like. You’re led to believe that, as a graduate, you’re this ball of talent that companies are going to fall over themselves to hire. But that’s not what happens! Even if you are ticking all the boxes, with things how they are you take what you can get, mate, suck it up! Yes we’d all love to fulfil our graduate dreams but, sorry, a fair old percentage of us won’t be. At least not yet. So if you can’t hit the big time right away, fill your time doing everything useful that you can do. Stop feeling like you’re owed something, get your head down and graft.
I did sort of see his point in that, in my case, I’ve done the washing up in Sainsbury’s, I’ve swept the floors, I’ve emptied the bins – I don’t want to do that with an MA under my belt. But one guy on the series made a good point during their menial placement – ‘if I can’t flip burgers, what can I do?’. Maybe you need to get through the rough, to appreciate the smooth.
There was also a report on the Guardian a few days ago about graduate internships, and how they’re basically slavery. And OK, from the sounds of the report, some of them were really pretty shoddy. But complaining because a big London company is ‘only’ paying your lunch expenses? For God’s sake. That’s what an internship is. Maybe they should introduce some kind of minimum wage, and regulate things better. But if you’re going into something that you know won’t be paid, for a set time, doing a set task – can you complain?
Yes, it’s not a great deal, and from what I read some ‘internships’ are pretty poorly regulated. But if I was offered 3 months somewhere in London, knowing all I’d be getting was a meal deal? Oh, and experience, skills, and industry contacts…. Well, I’d do it.