The following is a considered, but fairly unashamed rant about the current graduate employment scene. I write this on behalf of not only me, but a swathe of my fellow disillusioned students close to graduation.
Here’s the background. I am 22 years old, studying a double degree in Arts/Law at one of the top eight universities. I am in my fifth and penultimate year. I write this whilst simultaneously licking the latest wound delivered by a yet another HR department, from a mid-tier law firm, informing me that ‘regrettably/unfortunately/(insert other word expressing an appropriate level of sincerity)’ I have not been accepted for an interview for a summer placement position.
A position which is designed to give near-graduates a taste of life as a lawyer, and hopefully, if you don’t stuff up too badly, be offered a graduate position and have your practical training sponsored before being admitted as a solicitor. Positions which used to be realistically attainable, provided you had decent marks, a bit of experience and a willingness to put in hard work. Positions which now require you to possess a 4.0GPA, to undertake volunteer work, paid relevant legal work, be captain of a sports team, and somehow have time for a well-rounded social life AND not function thanks to an IV caffeine supply, but rather your own buoyant exuberance for study and life in general.
The reality is that the current climate for law graduates (and graduates from many other disciplines) is that getting accepted to university and getting a degree from a reputable university is simply not enough anymore to embark upon a career. To put it simply, there are way, way, way too many graduates for the number of positions out there. Yet universities continue hauling in students by the thousands and taking their money for what is increasingly an empty promise of employment. After recently volunteering for my university’s Open Day (blatantly for CV embellishment purposes and not out of a heartfelt sense of duty to my institution), I felt an overwhelming sadness watching these kids, five years my junior, taking in the campus with an air of awe and hopeful anticipation. I could think only of the hard road ahead for them.
I realise that completing a degree through a university is not akin to signing a contract which guarantees you a career on the other side. I do. Obviously, hard work and endeavouring to broaden your boundaries with various experiences through your studies is essential, not only for future employment prospects, but for your own wellbeing and development. But I do think that if, like me, you have worked hard at university, achieved good grades, and paid tens of thousands of dollars for a qualification, you should have at least a realistic possibility of gaining employment in your chosen career – instead, articles such as these pop up all too frequently, as welcome as a blow from a 1063-page Administrative Law textbook to the back of the head.