Over the summer I was busy collecting stories from graduates about the challenges they faced in the early weeks and months after leaving university. Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest challenges in the current economic climate is getting a graduate job. So many talented, capable and willing youngsters are unemployed for a considerable period of time or are forced to take jobs they don’t need a degree to do.
The process of gathering and collating stories was fascinating. I expected to publish around a dozen, but there are more than 40 on the website now and I have no desire to stop, not least because the feedback has been so positive and it is clear to me that this is an area for wider discussion among academics and employers as well as graduates themselves.
You can access the website here:
The stories centre around three key questions:
What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) facing you as a new graduate?
How has post university life worked out for you?
What advice were you given that’s been useful to you and what advice would you give to other graduates?
Most of the people I’ve interviewed or who have contributed so far, have encountered similar employment-related problems. Many talk of their time after university as being one of readjustment, where they’ve found the need to re-evaluate their expectations and for many that has impacted on relationships, finances and self esteem.
Too many graduates find themselves having to work for free on extended work experience placements or internships. They are told that even with a degree they don’t have the experience to make them employable. That, coupled with being poorer than when they were students, (another common theme), and missing the contact they had with the close friends they established at university, often makes for very depressing reading.
The challenge surely for the rest of us, is what can we do to help change things?