An unashamed rant about the lack of jobs for university graduates.

But what’s the point…really?



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.

Don’t get swept up in it all.

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.


I don’t think all the blame is to be laid on universities. Talking from the perspective of inner suburban life, high school is primarily an exercise in training for Year 12 exams, the goal being to achieve an 80+ percentile ranking to be accepted into one of the top universities. I think this is a distorted approach. If I had my way, parents and schools would equally endorse other options, such as vocations and entrepreneurship. Similarly, I believe that universities should cut down graduate intakes, especially considering the latest tertiary education cuts which will inevitably result in lower quality services/worse conditions for university employees, many of whom are currently fighting an uphill battle negotiating their workplace agreements.

I know it’s not as simple as I have outlined. And I know that for many careers, university is an essential stepping-stone in an ultimately fruitful career. But I just say this: consider your options carefully. If you’re a school leaver not sure about the university preferences you selected, don’t feel pressured to go straight away by way of convention. Take a year out; see what other work is out there, and if you find something that appeals to you, go for your life. Don’t feel pressured to return. And if you start out with your course and it isn’t what you expect, don’t be afraid to take an intermission and explore other options. Sure, uni life is fun – just don’t get swept up into the romanticism of it all. Because at the end of the day, it’s a corporation which doesn’t take you for much more than a big fat dollar sign. It’s up to you to make something of your skills, not a university.

The author of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous.

Did you manage to get a job when you finished uni? How long did it take you? And was it the one you wanted?

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