‘Don’t pity us or hate us — just HELP us!’ says unemployed graduate

Did you find your university careers service helpful?
“The comments from that Cambridge careers adviser that the students and graduates who didn’t use his service were ‘lazy’ made my blood boil! University careers services clearly have no idea how to market themselves to us — or what to do with us if we don’t know what we want to do as a career. I went with very vague ideas of what I might do and got a little advice and some CV and cover letter help but not much to help me decide what i might want to do. I also found they assume students have a lot of prior knowledge about the business world, which is strange when they know we’ve been busy studying for academic degrees for the last three or four years! I certainly don’t know the ins and outs of consulting — or what an account manager really does… Some context to explain this sort of thing would be really helpful. I think university careers services need to understand the mindset of their students better. We don’t avoid them because we’re lazy — we avoid them because we know they can’t help.”

Do you regret going to university?
“Lots of my friends say they wonder why they bothered — but I don’t regret it. If I’m finding it tough with a degree, I know it would be ten times harder without one! And there would be far less vacancies available to me as everything I apply for requires a degree. Aside from that I think my time at uni taught me some good skills, it was interesting and more importantly for me was the social life. I had a great time, grew up so much and made some brilliant friends. I do feel it’ll be worth it long- term. The fact that I’m not in debt does make a difference though. My friends who are have the choice of paid work with few prospects or unpaid work that might get them somewhere. When you’re in 23k of debt, that’s a pretty grim choice.”

Do you worry about the future?
“Yes — I worry that I’ll never get into the kind of job i like and that my unpaid internships will just go on and on… I have to believe that if I keep on going then one day I’ll have the right amount of experience for a proper paid job — but what if I then change my mind and want to do something else? Do I have to start all over again doing more unpaid work?! I think the market is picking up a bit but it’s certainly not great and the news about the graduate recruitment freezes in the public sector obviously isn’t good — will all those people now be chasing private sector jobs, when already there aren’t enough to go around? I know so many people who ‘opted out’ of the job market last year by doing postgraduate study or going abroad, so I’m worried this summer will just add a new set of graduates to the thousands already chasing a small number of jobs.”

*Has Caroline got it right – or has she missed anything out? Share your own assessment of the graduate situation below. Go on, you know you want to!

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