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Warning: Real World – Approach With Care

Here at the Careers and Placements Service we have hired some of our students to give their observations, experiences and knowledge on all things careers and employment related. We’re pleased to introduce our first student writer, Conrad Allum, to talk about what to think about in your final year.

Caution sign on the roadAlongside thousands of final year students around the country I am in the predicament of knowing that my days in the warm cocoon of university are numbered. In less than six months we will be out in the ‘real world’. Don’t worry, I’m scared too. And figures released by the Office of National Statistics in March, stating that 18.9% of new graduates are unemployed, do not offer any reassurances. As the holiday season comes to an end, like the rest of you I am juggling coursework deadlines whilst frantically trying to plan my future.

I’m studying Journalism and Media Cultures/Sports Studies and aim to have a career in sports journalism. If only achieving this was as easy as it was to type it. The last few months of university will inevitably zoom by at Usain Bolt-like speed, so it is important to be prepared. Easier said than done, I know. After research and deliberation I have reached the conclusion that there are two main options as to where I can go next, here they are:

Option One… Enter the real world

As daunting as it may seem with the current job market as it is, this is the route the majority of us will go down. I went into the process of job searching with negativity as I thought there would be nothing out there but after a few hours of browsing I found interesting opportunities all the way from Sunderland to Southampton! For the less Google savvy another great port of call is the jobs bulletin released by the Careers and Placement Service on Studynet each week. It saves hours of searching by listing the latest graduate opportunities across all fields in a spread sheet. Whilst job hunting is not an exciting prospect, I assure you it will more often than not turn out easier than you thought.

Option Two… Remain in the cocoon

If the thought of job hunting and the worry of unemployment is too much, then why not think about further study? A Master’s degree will make you more specialised in your subject, give you more experience, and make you more marketable. All factors which sound hugely beneficial to your employability. Having a Master’s degree may separate you from the rest of the university graduates who will be vying for the same positions. The negative is the cost. The thought of being saddled with even more debt is not appealing (although there is a UH Graduate Scholarship for returning students). If the Master’s degree does all the above then it is hugely cost effective, however there is no guarantee of a job afterwards. This is the major factor pushing me towards option one.

Whether we like it or not the ‘real world’ is approaching, but if approached with care and preparation it won’t be half as bad. Start thinking about your next steps as soon as possible, don’t put it off. To finish on a positive note: Guardian figures show that In 2011, the average hourly rate of pay for all graduates aged 21 to 64 was £15.18, 70% more than the non-graduate rate of £8.92. So whilst it may seem a struggle now it will all be worthwhile in the future.

Image of Conrad Allum

Conrad Allum is a final year University of Hertfordshire student, studying Journalism and Media Cultures/Sports Studies.


photo credit: Imelda Ximin

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