Let me invite you to play a game next time you find yourself bored at a party. Walk right up to the nearest person, look them right in the eyes and ask them where they see themselves in 5 years time. If they are doing anything other than medicine, witness the catastrophic failure of their mental faculties as the suppression of utter job prospect panic becomes too much to bear and they begin weeping over their mug of vodka.
It seems that for about half a decade now the media has been informing Generation Y just how much the job market is preparing to fuck us up as soon as we leave the safe confines of our university bubble. When many do reach the great outside world, they are often faced with the terrifying reality that today’s twenty-somethings have been horribly misinformed.
Years spent chasing qualifications no one even bothers to ask about will lead you to spend an inordinate amount of time telling any poor sod that will listen the exact breakdown of your EPQ presentation, delivered 4 years ago in a dusty secondary school assembly hall while you desperately try to find meaning for all those wasted hours. After all, the grown ups had told us that we were in a considerably better position than them—education was the name if getting a job was the game.
But after the SATs, the 11-plus, the GCSEs, the AS Levels, the BAs, the MAs, the MScs and finally even maybe the death rattle of a PhD, employers turned around and announced that in fact what they were looking for was a wealth of experience. Funnily enough, this wealth of workplace experience was something you missed out on while you were preoccupied with trying to work out what the hell D.H. Lawrence had ingested before he wrote The Rainbow, or hyperventilating during a maths exam you had a day to prepare for.
So the horror begins. Having asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up and then finding that society can’t provide the goods, the generation before us proffers internships. Internships—the solution to a problem that wouldn’t have existed had someone realised earlier on that droves of students perfectly capable of long division but totally incapable of splitting the bill wasn’t ideal.
Internships, zero-hour contracts and an unusual amount of part-time jobs are leading us students further and further into a situation where youth unemployment is a major issue. By October 2013, the figures had risen by four times that of 2004, and had tripled in the first 3 years of the coalition government.
So, other than cry and eat an unprecedented amount of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from the Union’s Grab and Go, what can Manchester students proactively do to try and do to help themselves? Well, some good news amongst a barrage of bad is that, in being at The University of Manchester, you are already in a better position of employability than many.
According to recent research from The Graduate Market in 2015, and High Flyers Research, we are the most targeted university by Britain’s top graduate employers. Graduates destination data reveals that in 2013/14, 84 per cent of Manchester graduates who got jobs went straight into graduate-level employment and the average starting salary for Manchester graduates was £22,000.
However, don’t get complacent, there’s not enough grad schemes to go round; there was recently an interview on The Debrief which gave an insight into the life of strippers from ‘Amy, graduate of the University of Manchester, 2:1 in English Literature.’ Ultimately, no-one’s going to get a job from complaining.
It’s worth getting involved in as many extra-curricular activities as you’re interested in without sacrificing your degree qualification, and if you’re really stuck about what direction to go in then visit to the careers service will yield helpful information about what you need to focus on to get where you want to be.