Posts Tagged ‘University’

Today i woke up to the news that many young people who are unemployed feel like they have nothing to live for. A survey by the Prince’s Trust says that “almost a third of long-term unemployed young people have contemplated taking their own lives”. (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25559089 for the full story.)

I agree that unemployment can have a damaging effect on your state of mind, mainly because having no purpose in life, no money and nothing to get you out of bed in the morning can seriously damage your self-esteem, confidence, and sometimes your relationships with others, especially those who have jobs.

Having no work life to discuss with your friends, and no income to spend on fun things or even just to pay your bills, can really make life unbearable.

My Situation

I’ve always said that i would never go on the dole, and so far i have managed not to. It is too easy to rely on others and going on benefits feels like i would be giving up. I don’t like asking for help. I want to be independent.

I left my last job nearly 5 months ago. Originally, i moved back home after graduating and took a part-time job to pay my way through a Masters degree. It was supposed to a temporary thing until i graduated with my Masters and got a “proper” job. After spending almost 3 years doing the job (2 of which were after my graduation and ended up being full-time), i was thoroughly fed up with doing a skill-less job which paid minimum wage. I did housekeeping, which i have nothing against, but through the mixture of being constantly knackered through doing such a physically demanding job, the upheaval of a management re-arrangement, and generally feeling stressed from being over-worked, i was bordering on falling into depression. Never mind that i was applying like crazy for jobs and getting a constant flow of rejections.

I left my job for the sake of my health, both mentally and physically. I don’t regret it. I needed to get out, otherwise i’d have nothing pushing me towards a new and better job which i want to do. I am much happier since leaving and have been having a nice break and seeing my friends more, going on holiday and working out my next step.

Therefore, i can’t moan about being unemployed when it was my own choice to leave. I thought the decision through before i made it, and made sure i had sufficient savings to live on for a few months until i could get something else. So i am living on my savings and not on the dole.

I am trying to stay positive that i will find something else, whether it is a graduate job or another unskilled job. And hopefully not too far in the near future (for the sake of my savings).

However, i still have days where i don’t think i will ever get a job, mainly because potential employers might think my reasons for leaving my last job were poor and then hold it against me, or because neither of my degrees have prepared me sufficiently for the world of work, or because i’ve had so many rejections that it just seems pointless trying.

I have a wall calendar with all 12 months of the year spread out on one page. Looking at those 365 empty white squares is enough to make you panic when you have no job to fill them. It’s easy to make plans but harder when you haven’t got the funds to do everything you want to do. At the end of the day, suddenly it hits you that all you want to do is work.

Experience and Education

The most annoying thing is that many employers won’t give you experience if you don’t have experience. It’s a vicious circle.

Being a university graduate doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get a job, and this is something that needs to be stressed to any young person considering going to university. I thought it would help me get a job, but no-one told me that i need to be more well-rounded during my university years, instead of only using that idea on your UCAS application to get you INTO university. I have the particular problem of having studied English, a “soft” option, which means i ought to have tried harder to get more experience during my studies.

Careers services at school and university didn’t really help me: nothing really jumped out at me and made me think “i want to do that as a career”. Not knowing what to do with my life has stopped me from pushing towards things as much as i could. I always try my hardest but uncertainty has held me back. I probably didn’t need to do my Masters degree either.

The country might be picking itself back up after the recession, but the job market is only getting stronger slowly. The government just wants people to go to university and it felt like the thing to do, so no wonder i felt forced into going to university in the first place.

What bugs me is that the Duke of York has spoken out about apprenticeships and university by saying “Coming out of university there’s a tendency to believe that you’re trained as well as educated, which is not actually true“. (See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10545162/Duke-of-York-enters-education-debate-by-saying-university-should-be-icing-on-cake-rather-than-direct-route-to-jobs.html) I think you’ll find that i was trained for a job by my Master’s degree, if not by my undergraduate degree.

He also says: “In some respects I think that choosing the apprenticeship path and doing a foundation degree and then going on to university you will always have the advantage over many of your university colleagues because you have earned your spurs in the business world before going to university, so you’re going into university as a trained person, you’re not coming out as an untrained person.

Erm, when are young people supposed to do this apprenticeship thing when the government now wants to make school education compulsory until 18, instead of 16? And it seems slightly more complicated to go university when you’re a mature student. Also, university might teach you something totally different to what you learned on an apprenticeship? or you might forget the things you learned during your apprenticeship? Maybe these are pointless to mention but you have to consider that the Duke of York didn’t go to university himself, so how can he have an opinion on it?

You might agree with my thoughts, or you might disagree, but there’s a lot to think about when it comes to these issues.

Advertisements

I love languages! This is the second part of my posts about my relationship with languages.

University

As i mentioned in my previous post, i studied English Literature at university, so i know a lot about my native language already.

I did a module on TESOL (teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and the first thing the tutor did was speak to us in one of her foreign languages, in this case it was Indonesian. I can’t remember anything she said, mainly because i had a mad panic at being addressed in a completely unfamiliar language! A good example of how people feel when they first learn a foreign language!

Arabic

I chose to study Arabic as an extra-curricular activity whilst at university, and i studied it for a semester because i wanted to learn something new. Arabic is a totally different language: not only is it from a different language family, it is read from right-to-left (instead of left-to-right like English, German and so on), letters of the alphabet change when you write them down in certain ways, and it is a cursive language. I got totally confused at times while studying Arabic! It is one of the hardest languages to learn because it has a different alphabet, which i spent hours trying to learn! I made reasonable progress with Arabic, although when the final exam came i completely stuffed it up and subsequently failed the class! Oops! To be fair, it was only a recreational class and not part of my degree, so it didn’t take priority when i had important essay deadlines and a dissertation due around the time of the final exam!

My Arabic skills consist of being able to say a few greetings and replies, and the odd word, but i can’t read Arabic and i have forgotten the letters of the alphabet, except for “al” which basically means “the”. I don’t have  much to show for that class! I do still have the Arabic learning CD set though, so i could attempt to learn it again!

Outside Academica/ In the real world!

I have had the opportunity to visit other countries and learn their languages, mainly through holidays. Mainly i know the Scandinavian languages, having visited a few of those countries.

Swedish

As my family has friends in Sweden and we’ve been on family holidays over there a few times, i learned words and phrases to make our trips more interesting. I know greetings and simple touristy phrases, and i know lots of random words! My food vocabulary is my strongest skill in Swedish, as i love Swedish food! I can pick out words from sentences and make a guess at what it means!

I also had the opportunity at university to study abroad and Sweden was my country of choice, but in the end i decided i would rather stay in England for the rest of my degree because i loved my university city, York, too much! Actually, i see now that i was very stupid to pass up such an opportunity! Oops!

Finnish

Finnish is another difficult language which is from a different language family to the other Scandic languages. It is fascinating though! I went on a family holiday to Finland as a teenager and i learned a few simple phrases and words in Finnish. I can pick out the odd word, but sentences are a bit too difficult to understand! It is one of the more difficult languages to learn, especially with the sentence structure and so on.

I did actually do an essay on the Finnish language at university, several years after this holiday, for which i learned about the history of Finnish and how Swedish used to be the main language spoken in Finland until Finnish was introduced as the main language. One day, it would be nice to learn a bit more Finnish because it is a really fascinating language!

Danish

I went to Denmark a few times on holiday, so i learned a few Danish words while i was there. Mainly i know food vocabulary!

Now and the future…

Currently i am taking 1-1 tutorial sessions to improve my German language skills, in the hope that i will someday be able to either live and work in Germany or at least communicate in German on a regular basis while working here in the UK. It is my favourite language so i decided to give it a shot, and i’m finding that i can actually remember a lot of my school German when prompted! The only problem is getting my head around all the grammar rules again!

In the future, i would like to maybe give Arabic another shot or start learning Finnish, as both are quite difficult to learn. I would love to learn Swedish properly, and i would like to improve my French to i can communicate more fluently in it!

My main aim is to become fluent in another language before i’m 30, so i’ve got 5 more years to get cracking!

Today i thought i would share an article i found in the Sunday Times (7th July 2013):

Sunday Times article 7/7/13

Sunday Times article 7/7/13

Got a 2:2? Like to get stoned? You’re hired!

GRADUATES: have you spent the past three years skipping lectures and smoking cannabis? Then you may be just what we’re looking for.

One of Britain’s most influential businessmen has said he wants to spurn “weirdo” high-flyers with first-class degrees in favour of talented graduates with 2:2s and thirds.

Rory Sutherland, vice-president of Ogilvy Group UK, a leading communications and marketing company, said: “I have asked around and nobody has any evidence to suggest that, for any given university, recruits with first-class degrees turn into better employees than those with thirds. If anything, the correlation operates in reverse.

“We could simply place ads in student newspapers: ‘Headed for 2:2 or a third? Finish your joint and come and work for us.’ ”

Sutherland, who graduated with a 2:2 in classics from Christ’s College, Cambridge, was a teacher before becoming a trainee with Ogilvy & Mather, the advertising firm founded in 1948 by David Ogilvy, an Oxford dropout.

“If you’re at university and you’re surrounded by the opposite sex, drink, drugs, parties and general entertainment and you decide to sit in your room reading Thucydides, then you’re probably a bit of a weirdo,” he said. “There may also be an argument that if you fill a business with intellectuals, then they make things more complicated than they need to be.”

Sutherland first mooted his ideas about recruitment in an article for The Spectator. he said it was “50% mischief and 50% serious” but hoped that it would provoke an “important debate”. He said he was not completely opposed to hiring graduates with firsts but degree class should not be the sole criterion.

His comments come after Lord Winston, a leading fertility expert, said he “deliberately” doesn’t hire graduates with first-class degrees for jobs in his science laboratories.

“I know scientists who are amazingly stupid,” he said. “I have appointed scientists on the whole, deliberately, who didn’t get first-class honours degrees, because i would rather have young people around me who developed other interests at university and didn’t focus entirely on getting that first.”

The number of graduates awarded a first has more than doubled in the past 10 years, according to the association of graduate recruiters.

However, many people have gone on to success after gaining a 2:2 or third-class degree. Those with thirds include the television presenter Carol Vorderman and the broadcaster David Dimbleby, while the actor Hugh Laurie failed to graduate. The writer Allison Pearson, who got a 2:2 in English from Cambridge, said: “Even after all these years, it’s painful to admit it.”

Bear Grylls, the adventurer, said his 2:2 from Birkbeck College in London had never helped him. “What did was understanding that hard work, persistence and enthusiasm are king,” he said.

However, Sir Chris Woodhead, a former chief inspector of schools, said: “There’s no evidence that i know of that people who work hard and get first-class degrees are less-rounded individuals than other students.”

Examples of lower degree class graduates: J.K. Rowling, David Dimbleby, and Hugh Laurie - from The Sunday Times 7/7/13

Examples of lower degree class graduates: J.K. Rowling, David Dimbleby, and Hugh Laurie – from The Sunday Times 7/7/13

Taken from The Sunday Times (available online if you subscribe, or via print media, which i typed up to show you)

I don’t know know about anyone else, but i was just a little bit hacked off when i read this article. As a graduate with a 2:2 undergraduate degree in English Literature and English Language, and a 2:2 postgraduate degree in Publishing, i felt that it didn’t paint me or others in a good light.

Things that bug me:

  • It suggests that people with a 2:2 or a third smoke cannabis. – I have a 2:2 and i never touch drugs nor intend to ever do so.
  • It suggests that these people skipped lectures for 3 years. – I missed maybe 2 lectures in the 4 years i spent doing both my degrees, due to illness and attending my first graduation.
  • It suggests people with 2:2s and thirds are lazy. – I studied very hard through my degrees, and i had a job part-time during my second year and during my Masters, and volunteered a day a week for my second and third years, and i had time to socialise as well but i didn’t go out as much as i would have liked to.
  • It suggests that people with firsts spent all their time in their rooms studying and not going out. – I’m sure it is possible to do really well AND have a social life, if you get the balance right. To be fair, i spent most of my first year in my room studying and got top marks for that year but i was bored!

Things that sound good to me:

  • It suggests that people with 2:2s and thirds might get lucky with jobs if employers think they are “well-rounded” because they had interests outside academia. – Yay! So it’s ok that i didn’t get a first or 2:1 if i went out with friends, volunteered in my spare time, had a part-time job, learnt a new language, and explored the area around my university!
  • It suggests that people with 2:2s and thirds are normal healthy people because they didn’t spend their whole university experience chained to their study desks like people with firsts did: “If you’re at university and you’re surrounded by the opposite sex, drink, drugs, parties and general entertainment and you decide to sit in your room reading Thucydides, then you’re probably a bit of a weirdo” – Well, i went out and did stuff but most of the time i did actually prefer staying in my room reading or watching films so i saved my student loan for more important things like rent, buying real food and visiting friends in other cities! Nothing wrong with that!
  • It provides examples of successful people who didn’t get top degrees or who didn’t graduate at all. – So i have hope that i will be ok if these people managed to be successful!

Having a 2:2 or a third shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want, it just makes the process of getting there tougher because most employers want people with top degrees from the top universities. You just have to work harder.

It is really demoralizing getting rejected because of your degree being the wrong one or your university not being a well-known top university. It is depressing being unemployable 2 years after graduating. But i will keep trying anyway!

What do you think? Did you get a 2:2? Do you feel better about your situation after reading this? or do you feel more hopeless?