Two language and literature graduates compare their experiences of entering the work world in 2009. Part one in a job testimony series of young Europeans based at home
2009’s graduate flavour comes in crisis: part one, England and Ireland
Graduation helped Ashleigh to find a waitress job (Image: ©soylentgreen23/ flickr.com/photos/soylentgreen23/)
I am certainly a much more experienced waitress than I was before graduation. Five long years til graduation day, three months of graduate unemployment. The rose-tinted memories of student life are fading. My future looks fairly bleak. That essential first rung of the career ladder seems eternally just out of reach. My well respected BA in Classics is about as far from vocational as degrees come, so I never expected to just fall into the job of my dreams. But I did think I’d find something, especially as I am more than willing to take the dreaded intern positions – long office hours for no pay and no employment guarantee – if it means I gain experience in the right places. You’d think that with a decent academic record, some previous experience in the relevant fields and two nigh-on fluent foreign languages, that I might be worth a second look. The infamous credit crunch has darkened the doorways of 2009’s graduates to the extent that we cannot even get a job that doesn’t pay!
Nearly half of the almost 900, 000 unemployed 18-24 year olds in Britain are claiming unemployment benefit
There’s just no light at the end of the tunnel. Boris Johnson, mayor of London, twitters about his new recruitment website to help young Londoners find employment, but there are hardly any jobs on it, or on any employment websites! Most are snapped up by the thousands of highly experienced elders who were made redundant in the last year. Our current options are extremely limited; even the traditional graduate fallback, temp work, is hard to come by. Nearly half of the almost 900, 000 unemployed 18-24 year olds in Britain are claiming unemployment benefit. There’s a sudden lack of stigma surrounding ‘signing on’, which before the economic crisis was generally something my peers were ashamed of. We will get there in the end. We Brits like to complain, but we also know how to endure miserable conditions. It’s been too easy for too long, and the hardship will certainly build character. Stiff upper lip and all that. I don’t necessarily know that our government will pull us through it, but at some point there will be a brighter future for all of us. I hope.
A mere three months after graduating from my English Studies BA degree at Trinity College Dublin, I am now a student intern at the National Library of Ireland, gaining invaluable experience and vital skills in my area of interest. To be a professional librarian, I’d also do a masters in information and library studies. Having secure employment whilst seeking employment is a huge advantage. I was a shelver at my university library in my final year. The job shunned the carefree lifestyle of a typical student; I’d report for work at 8am daily.
Having secure employment whilst seeking employment is a huge advantage
It was a struggle at times but the sacrifice paid dividends in the long run. In the current recessionary climate in Ireland, 21.5% of 24-year-olds and under are unemployed. I am the exception rather than the rule; the average number of applicants had increased dramatically for the National Library year-long contract. A favourable reference from a qualified library professional plus the time spent working explains my edge over the over-subscribed competition. Countless hours spent amongst dusty books, hounding unsuspecting students for late fines proved to be of invaluable worth after all! Practical experience accompanied by a bit of good old-fashioned luck.
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