Now, I know I’m not the only person that has experienced the difficult situation of being a degree-holding unemployed person, hopeful that you will be able to land the job of your dreams as soon as you graduated, only to find that your degree is not as useful as you thought. Despite the increasing number of young people these days that have University degrees, there seems to be a trend that indicates the desirability of a degree on its own is becoming less and less in an employer’s eyes. The trouble is, because so many these days seem to have a degree, in itself this isn’t enough anymore. In order to differentiate between all the candidates that are applying for the same job, employer’s are now looking for more. Namely, work experience in the industry you are applying to, which in itself is extremely difficult to secure.
Here’s my background. I graduated with a 2:1 degree in History over three years ago, but wasn’t completely sure what to do next. I knew I wanted to go into publishing of some form, but had no idea how to go about it. It seems like so many industries these days are inaccessible to a fresh graduate looking for their first ‘proper’ job, because they want more than just your degree. At the time of me graduating, I wasn’t fully aware of this. So I went traveling for four months soon after, but before I went I decided to apply to study for a Masters degree in History. There were a few reasons for this, one being that I genuinely enjoyed studying, researching and writing. Another reason was that because I was so unsure of my next step, I figured it would be a good way for me to make contacts and work out what to do career-wise, whilst at the same time getting myself another qualification that would put me, academically, one step above all those students who just had Bachelor degrees.
So I spent two years studying the Masters and come the end, I realised something. I hadn’t really made any contacts and I still didn’t really have something solid that could serve as me getting my foot in the door of an industry that desires experience. Sure, I had a Masters degree, but I soon discovered that this would not come in as useful as I’d hoped. As soon as I submitted my final degree assignment, I was applying for jobs. And I don’t just mean publishing jobs, but banking jobs, University jobs, anything where I thought I could put my skills to good use. I figured I should keep my options open. But the rejections came pouring in, one after another, each one telling me I didn’t have the relevant experience or skills required for the job. In the space of three to four months, I must have applied to about forty or fifty jobs, not to secure a single interview. At the time I was working in retail part-time to keep the money coming in, but I didn’t want to be doing it when I knew I was meant for better things.
One evening, I sat down, analysed my situation and realised I would have to take some work experience. The problem I had, however, was how do I do work experience and do paid work at the same time? I was living in a flat with my partner, who is also at university, and needed money to make ends meet. So we took the bold decision to move out and move back in with my parents whilst I did my work experience and until I found myself a full-time job.
I started writing to some publishing companies, enquiring about any work experience or internships that I could undertake. Out of eight companies I wrote to, only two replied, both saying they didn’t do anything like that. A third company, however, wrote back to me and told me they had a vacancy for an internship right at that moment in time, and that it was for some assistance on a new magazine they were launching, so I arranged for an interview with the Editorial Director the very next day.
I was so hopeful of being given this opportunity because I knew it could be the break I needed to get into the publishing industry. Without it, I was right back to square one. The interview went well, but he told me he would have to speak to the other directors first and let me know the next day. Anyway, long story short, I got the internship and I was so happy! Finally, my persistence had paid off and I was able to gain some much-needed experience. The internship was full-time and based in the Editorial sector.
This blog will serve as my updates on the internship and detail exactly what I’m doing, as well as giving any advice or information I can that might come in useful to anybody who is in a similar situation to where I was before. I hope you enjoy it as I post over the next three months and keep you updated on how I’m getting on.