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Big Issue: It's every man for himself in the job market

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 04, 2013

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"JUST because you have a degree, doesn't mean that you're going to walk into a job."

Those were the words of my university careers counsellor last month.

With recent statistics claiming that four in 10 students are filling menial jobs two years after their graduation, it doesn't come as a massive surprise that people are quick to warn that the transition from university to the job market isn't plain sailing.

As you may have guessed, I'm a journalism student, and even though that means I'm not training to blast into space or one day find a cure for cancer, I can assure you that I've worked hard at what I do. Over the past few years I've studied everything from the history of law to the complicated spheres of politics and ethics, all in between batting out 3,000 word essay after 3,000 word essay.

Indeed, the stereotype of the lazy student is one that I've not encountered regularly. On the whole, it's fair to say that I and the majority of my classmates have put in a great deal more work than people probably expect.

Amidst the chaos of my final year is the ever-present issue of The Future. Every time I talk to my friends, regardless of what they're studying, the second the conversation turns to life after university, you can practically hear our stomachs churning. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people my age don't know what the future holds. Some might be gleefully expecting to sail into their dream job, others might be expecting to pack up and move back home with their family.

But what can be done? Some people might wonder whether lecturers, parents and employers are doing enough to encourage students eager to break into the job market.

But it seems that the harsh reality is that those looking around for someone to help them need to help themselves.

The repeated calls from lecturers to generate unique, eye-catching CVs full of inflated claims and to secure work placements with every business under the sun might fall on deaf ears for some, but for those soon to be entering a turbulent job market, doing all you can to make yourself stand out is the order of the day.

Simply attending lectures is no longer enough. Regardless of what your degree discipline is, you need to do more. Volunteering, extra-curricular activities, work experience, networking. Anything you can do that'll give you the edge over the competition.

So do I anticipate that one day I'll become an ace reporter? The answer is a rather ambiguous maybe.

In an industry that's sadly more accustomed to cutting jobs instead of creating them, it's sometimes difficult to be optimistic. Journalism is a notoriously competitive industry, and that was before the recession took hold.

What I do hope is that with this portfolio of skills, I will be able to land myself something.

With Britain's current financial situation, it's important to remember that it's not just students in a precarious position. All across the country, people of all ages are taking pay cuts, struggling to find work and even losing their jobs altogether. and with the British economy showing slim chances of resuscitation for the time being, it's perhaps necessary for today's graduates to realise that everyone's in the same boat, and be realistic but also proactive by making themselves as employable as possible.

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