When I graduated in 2010, I assumed – in retrospect, naively – that my grades, extra curricular activities and the fact that I had worked through university would qualify me for full time graduate employment. How wrong I was…

You see, if you want to secure a graduate position, having a degree is only half of the battle. In fact, according to a recent study, maybe even less so. The findings state:

Many recruiters commented that irrespective of the academic results that a graduate had achieved, it would be very hard for an applicant to demonstrate the skills and competencies that they were looking for if they’d not had any prior work experience.”

Martin Birchall, MD of High Fliers, the recruitment firm that conducted the research, said that:

Today’s report includes the stark warning that in this highly competitive graduate job market, new graduates who’ve not had any work experience during their time at university have little or no chance of landing a well-paid job with a leading employer, irrespective of the university they’ve attended or the academic results they achieve.”

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Well, having been a student myself for the last three years, I can tell you that the students have always been revolting – anyone who risked entering my kitchen in the first year can attest to this.

As if being a graduate in 2010 couldn’t get any worse, we now have the dubious pleasure of being implicated by association with the student fees protesters. Whether or not we agree with the cuts or disagree is immaterial. The fact is: we are young, we were at university, and so in all likelihood we are now devising new and inventive ways to scale the Cenotaph or thinking of what we’re going to write on the sandwich board that we will inevitably turn up for work wearing. Brilliant…

But for the sake of impartiality, I’m going to avoid getting bogged down in an inevitably dull discussion of the cuts or the protesters or their incredibly disrespectful (woops!) actions last week. I’m not interested in the ‘whats’ and the ‘whys’ of the protests, but rather, the ‘hows’. In particular, the way that the students have used social media to generate, galvanise and mobilise support, and what organisations can learn from this.

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Speaking at a graduation ceremony, the prolific American writer and journalist Erma Bombeck once said:

Graduation day is tough for adults; they go to the ceremony as parents, they come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-raising, they are unemployed.”

Well, at least in 2010 you can be ‘unemployed’ as a family unit. But while figurative unemployment is one thing, months of actual unemployment immediately following your graduation is another entirely. I imagined, perhaps naively, that the summer following my own graduation would be spent responsibly (and comprehensively) celebrating having graduated and getting stuck into my career. Instead, I seem to have spent most of it shuffling awkwardly around the Job Centre, wondering when my status as a ‘graduate’ began to infer that I was either ‘over qualified’ or ‘unemployed’. A group of students from Nottingham University have posited an admirable solution (a student’s focus on the task at hand never wavers) but with graduate unemployment figures working their way towards 25%, it seems that even the government’s best efforts are falling short of the mark.

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