Mims' Musings

Post Graduation Blues

Posted on: 09/08/2012

ImageGraduation was always going to be a happy day. I’d worked hard for 3 years, achieved First Class Honours, my parents looked like they were going to burst with pride, and we all scrubbed up well in the cap and gown. Just before the ceremony, I was surprised when I started feeling this knot of terror in my stomach. I quickly realised it wasn’t about getting up on stage, I’d even worn tiny heels to avoid falling flat on my face. This anxiety was something else completely. It was about what this graduating business symbolised. Mainly that this meant the end of my nice stable routine of commuting, assignments and complaining, and that I had nowhere to go in September.

For a while I forgot about the horrible feeling, enjoyed the day and felt quite proud of myself. However, it’s never gone away. In fact I can feel it right now.

I felt the first twinges of this bluesy feeling when he had a particularly demotivational careers talk in our final year. They showed us the statistics of what last year’s graduates are doing now. Barely any of them were in a job that has anything to do with English or Creative Writing, many of them were working in retail or bars. We were told if we were lucky we might get a job in a museum, which is what I was doing before I spent £21,000 on a degree.

I was determined not to let this get me down. I knew that I’d have to make looking for a job a priority. I started looking for a job way before I graduated. I always knew that it was going to be hard. I’m a realist and I’m not kidding myself about the struggle I face as a graduate, with a Creative Writing degree. I signed up for as many useful websites as I could, wrote a killer cover letter, polished my CV and set up a good routine of applying for as many paid and unpaid positions as I could.

The same week as I graduated I went to the Jobcentre. I knew it was going to be hard but wasn’t quite prepared for the extremity of their attitude towards graduates. Just before my first interview I overheard two of the ‘advisors’ talking about how they hate graduates, because they assume that they’re better than everyone else and don’t deserve help when they wasted so much money on a ‘piece of paper’.  I took a deep breath and went through the interview as if I hadn’t hurt anything, but saw the face fall when I mentioned that I was a graduate.

A week later I had my first sign on day, my advisor was an hour late to see me after eating her lunch, chatting to her friend the security guard, and not checking to see if I was there to see her at all.  She used a really rude abrupt tone with me throughout the session, demanding to know why I hadn’t worked during my degree, dismissing my answers as not good enough excuses. I had to repeat my answers several times, there were several points at which she seemed to be judging me and I felt intensely uncomfortable. By the end of the session I felt belittled, and like all of my confidence had been knocked out of me.

By the time my third interview rolled around I was dreading it.  I’d applied for double the amount of jobs than they required from me per week. The woman I saw was actually quite friendly, until she casually said that she can’t sign someone on if they’re on drugs. I was completely baffled about what she meant, and then she said “Well you’re clearly stoned, your eyes are bright red.” I was so shocked. I quickly explained that I had severe hayfever, showed her the medication I take for it, but by then the damage had already been done.

This post graduation feeling can be described as a general feeling of hopelessness. This generation has been brought up to expect the worst, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I’ve always lived by the motto that ‘Success is the best revenge’, but in this case it feels like the path to success is going to be like going uphill during a rock slide. I’m determined to get a job as soon as I can, and as far away from the Jobcentre as I can, but I’m yet to receive any replies from my applications. I was prepared for that, but combined with Jobcentre’s attitude towards me, my morale is lacking a bit! The sense of not knowing what’s next is really unsettling.

I would love to know if other new graduates are having similar problems. Please comment with your own experiences, and hopefully there’ll be some good news stories too!


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