Experience over Education

Having just finished my first year of your University, it struck me that I have just 2 years left of avoiding the inevitable 40 hour working week which awaits me when I join the real world. This prospect is both welcome and horrifying simultaneously. Whilst I cannot wait to pursue all these dreams and ambitions I possess, the realisation of the difficulty of achieving these aspirations weighs heavily upon my shoulders. I am living in a world where a great education from a prestigious university and an abundance of enthusiasm just isn’t enough.

Gone are the days where you could walk out of university and into a high profile corporation. Plain love for what you do seems to count for nought. Now, to even get your foot in the door you need to have a wealth of experience in whatever field you choose to pursue. You need to have relevant experience for any job you now apply for, despite having been in education for the first 21 years of your life. Realistically how much experience can one person have in their chosen career by 21? Surely the entire point of undertaking an undergraduate degree programme is to progress towards your career goals? When did a degree become a mere credential rather than a track to success?

I love studying and am thoroughly enjoying my time at university, yet my experience seems tinted by this sinking feeling that it will all lead to nothing. Soon I shall just join the other 50,000+ graduates that struggle to find employment every year. One Times shows that 22% of graduates are stuck in non-graduate jobs for up to 5 years after university. The realisation being then, that thousands of people are racking up £30,000 debt just to find the same job they could have prior to university. Remind me again why the numbers of applicants to university is rising every year? Maybe an old school attempt at working your way up through a corporation shouldn’t be so swiftly written off.

Today it seems that a degree will only progress you towards a career as an academic, all those other jobs you have dreamed of since you were 10 have one hundred other hoops to jump through, lions to tame and mazes to negotiate before you can even attempt to convince the big boss that your worthy of their time.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate that employers would prefer there potential new employees to have some experience, but what is an acceptable level of experience to expect? Having spent the last month trying to secure work experience, I am well aware of just how difficult it is to get even unpaid work in some industries. And here we arrive at the junction where you cannot get any interview without experience, yet will continue to lack experience until someone takes pity on you and, lack of experience aside, gives you a shot.

So I stare down the barrel to a life of being work bound, paying a mortgage, and being unable to avoid taxes, I realise that I have a mountain to climb if I am actually going to end up in a job I will love. Does that put me off though? Not just yet.