Brave new world
8 Feb 2018
St Andrews University student Bori Godley, a recent intern with us, explains the pressures and optimism involved in being a young graduate
Known for its prestigious universities, the UK churns out the highest number of graduates in the entire world. Young women are now 35% more likely to graduate with a degree than young men, and 46% of our total population goes to university. And the number of students getting Firsts has soared in recent years. These statistics are, on paper, very positive, showing that we have a population committed to educating themselves. But what implications do they have for young people, fresh out of university and about to enter the workplace?
I am just a few months away from graduating from the University of St Andrews with a degree in French and Spanish. The real world looms, with adult responsibilities and big decisions. I am aware of the fact that today, most young people have a degree and are capable and job-ready. I am also aware of the fact that the real world is not easy and that I need to stay ahead of the game, to make myself even more employable by the time I graduate.
It has always been important to me to have a job in which I am helping people and making a difference to people’s lives. I’ve watched countless friends get lucrative jobs at high-paying financial firms, inspired by the prospect of earning six figure salaries within six years. But that’s not for me at all.
I have always wanted to work in the third sector. Last year I contacted Children in Scotland and was lucky enough to spend three weeks as a Policy and Communications Intern during January 2018. I had the opportunity to work on a number of different projects, sit in on meetings and learn all about the organisation and what it stands for.
Work experience and internships are, in my opinion, a great opportunity for young people to get practical experience in the working world. It’s one thing to think you want to do a particular job, but you may find that that’s not actually the case when you get there. Luckily, my experience only served to confirm to me that this is the type of place I would love to work. I have been able to identify my next steps towards achieving my goals.
Statistics show that 31% of young graduates are not in graduate or high-skilled jobs. This is partly because the processes for getting these jobs are increasingly complex. Final year students are not only expected to stay on top of their grades, but also to prepare for online tests, interviews and assessment centres. It’s difficult not to feel that whatever you do is never enough.
And not only that: the current political climate has led to a great deal of uncertainty amongst young people and in the workplace. The government is funding fewer third sector organisations, and voluntary jobs are ever more competitive. Digitalisation threatens at every turn and the world seems to be changing faster than even the most technologically savvy person can keep up with.
So, for young graduates like myself, keen to work in the voluntary sector, the prospect of the working world is daunting but also exciting. Although I still have many hurdles to overcome, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be rewards; it just means the journey towards them may be a little less navigable, a little less secure and a little less stable than before. That’s why I am so thankful to Children in Scotland for having allowed me to be a part of their team for three weeks. Not only have I been able to gain some experience in the third sector, but I have also had the chance to get to know a lovely, welcoming and friendly team!
We wish Bori all the best for her remaining time as a student at St Andrews, her graduation, and her future career.