Graduates on their experience of the recession: 'You feel useless, bored of doing nothing'

Experiences of graduates Jen Attenborough and Ian White who have had to lower their expectations

Jen Attenborough, 23, graduated from Leeds University with a 2:1 in biology in 2007. She worked in dental sales but was made redundant in November.

"It was the last-in, first-out principle. I got a job in financial recruitment but they withdrew the offer three days before I was due to start. I won't apply for graduate jobs any more because it's so disheartening.

"Now I just want any job. I'm looking at care work, and I'm going to go back to university in September to do dentistry.

"It's really hard to be unemployed and it's definitely got worse. In December I was getting interest and some interviews. But since January it's quietened down a lot. It's surprising it's happened so quickly. More and more people I know are being made redundant and that makes competition tougher every week.

"You feel so useless. So bored of doing nothing. I started doing volunteering work just for something to do. I've had to sign on. That was the last thing I thought I'd do when I finished my degree."

Ian White, 21, lives in London with his girlfriend's family. He graduated from Cambridge University last year with a first in theology.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do when I graduated so I went travelling for six months. Ultimately, I want to be a comedy writer but I knew that wasn't going to happen straight away so I've been looking for any work.

"Initially, I was looking for decent work - graduate schemes. I didn't want to do media sales or anything like that. I was looking at things like being a librarian, something more bearable. Now I've given up and I'm looking for anything: bar work, catering - I've been all around the shops in my local area. I can't even get those jobs.

"If you try and use an online temping agency they are so oversubscribed that they ask if you if you have a year's experience - if you don't there's no chance.

"I've got a first from Cambridge and it's completely pointless. It's pretty depressing, to be honest. Everything I was told from the age of 14 hasn't really been true. I was told if you go to Cambridge you can walk into any job. That's obviously not true. It's difficult lowering your ambitions. You leave university full of ideas and ambitions. I had some savings but now I'm running out. I've got £400 left and then I've got to go home to Harrogate."

The GuardianTramp

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