The end of university doesn't just signal the culmination of three years spent studying, drinking cheap cider and eating cold pizza for breakfast, but could also spell the end of your brief stint of independence as the realisation dawns that a crippling student debt and a part-time job means that you can no longer afford to support yourself.
Having finishing my studies, I spent weeks scouring the job scene for any vacancies that would allow me to continue living on my own, as the adult that I am, but the employment drought meant that I had no other option but to move back in with my parents, just like thousands of other graduates are forced to do.
At first, the novelty of being at home overrides any feelings of sadness at leaving the student lifestyle behind, with roast dinners stuffing my body beyond capacity so that there is little room left for regrets or reminiscing. However, a year later, I'm reminded as to why I treasured my student independence so much – after all, there's only so many times that a 21-year-old can be told to make their bed and clean their teeth. When the home cooking leaves a sour taste in my mouth, I wonder what else I have to sacrifice for my quest for the job I dream of.
To allow my bank account to recover from the recklessness and abuse it tolerated while I was at university, I found a temping job in which I was content with for a month or so I as watched my bank account's bruises heal and my balance slowly climb. However, 12 months and hundreds of job rejections later, not only have I sacrificed my independence for financial stability but also my happiness. I only have to turn my head to see stories of graduate employment crises and see others in similarly sticky situations who are taking desperate measures for a chance to prove themselves and gain what should be rightfully theirs: a career.
Because of the downturn of graduate opportunities, there has been a spate of graduates taking to the streets to beg employers for a job and broadcast their desperation to the public. History graduate David Rowe recently pounded the popular business district of Fleet Street in London with a sandwich board begging for a job, but he also offered to work free of charge for the first month, after which the employer could fire him. Irish graduate Féilim Mac An Iomaire, also known as Jobless Paddy, spent his life savings of £1,745 on a billboard, pleading that recruiters hire him to prevent him from emigrating to find employment elsewhere.
Some may say that a degree isn't enough any more because the number of undergraduates is increasing each year, and that further extending your education with a masters may be the solution that will allow you to shine above the rest. However, it would appear that a higher education equates to little other than another sentence on your CV, as masters graduate Matt Barber also found himself posing in public with a placard that challenged employers to pay attention and put him on their payroll.
Despite the invaluable skills that these and many other individuals have attained at university, graduates are giving new meaning to the term streetwalkers: they have been demoted to pound the pavements promoting their services. When graduates are so demotivated by rejection that they surrender their dignity to plead publicly for a permanent, fulfilling position, it does make me question just how much we might have to choose to lose to gain the one thing we want the most.
With my independence a mere memory and my sanity evaporating by the minute, I too may be sprinting through Soho sporting a sandwich board by the end of the week. However, with the rise of graduates having the same bright idea, I'm not even sure this approach still has the shock factor needed to grab the attention of the employers that I am so desperate to impress.
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