Yesterday, I contributed to a piece concerning graduates who are only able to find non-graduate work, which was published in The Daily Mail today: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2229587/Value-university-education-falls-Graduates-degree-earn-22-decade.html
I found the article itself well-balanced and insightful. However, I’m writing this blog post as a response to various comments on the article, such as this one from Big Mama Mai, London: “Her own fault for picking a Worthless course and her Degree is a Mickey Mouse one. Learn a Trade Girl !! Or go on a Very Good Business course.” Other comments ridicule graduates for presuming they can automatically land a high-paying job post-university. Essentially, many of these comments seek to deny the humanities (particularly English Literature) any value whatsoever and jump to the conclusion that all graduates have nothing but their degree to their name and are sitting around in family comforts wondering why nobody has thrown a giant pile of money at them yet. Case in point: “It is completely dependant on the degree in question. ‘I have a degree in English literature’ Yes that’s very nice dear but what’s your point? What do you want to do with it? Did you think that through before you spent three years of your life having a nice party with your friends?”
(I wonder if a male graduate would have been met with the same patronising tone, the term “dear”?)
So, firstly, I thought I’d break the news to those in need that, believe it or not, some people choose degrees for the joy of education in itself! Not as a passport to ceaseless riches to buy up all the cocaine and hookers! Additionally, to all those writing off my degree as “easy”, trying writing a dissertation on Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, interspersed with close analysis of Satan’s rhetoric in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, topped off with germane musings regarding Jacques Derrida’s concept of forgiveness. In fact, just fucking go and read Clarissa. Then we’ll talk.
It should also be observed that, actually, most graduates do not expect to waltz into their dream job on some massive salary in an immediate or imminent manner. I’ve got a high 2:1 in English Literature, a traditional subject, from the University of Manchester. I would call that a good degree from a good university. Further to my degree, I have various work experience in journalism and PR / marketing in addition to previous employment history (temporary office work and luxury fashion retail) and an extensive self-taught IT skill set. I do not expect to walk into a high-flying job with just my degree, yet I also do not see why it is unreasonable to expect, with the combination of a good degree and work experience and relevant skills, to gain at least an interview for entry-level employment that pays the Living Wage in, say, an appealing head office environment (museums, charities, fashion, etc.).
[Side-note:] I lost count a long time ago of the number of graduate jobs I’ve applied for, but so far none of them have even confirmed receiving my application. Considering that a single application can easily take an hour after researching the position, the company, tailoring your CV / cover letter to the position, in addition to the series mini-essays you usually have to write as answers to various questions posed in online application forms, this complete lack of response can be rather infuriating. After spending so much time on applications, some feedback would be appreciated or at least a courtesy rejection email to confirm they received the application in the first place. I’m currently saving up for an MA next September, so my circumstances are only temporary, otherwise I’d probably implode with rage.
So, there you go. My cultivated opinions as a skilled and experienced graduate. I love my degree. I love to learn. I would also love a position that pays Living Wage in a remotely intellectually stimulating working environment. I don’t see why that’s such an entitled and impossibly deluded dream.
EDIT: Just thought I’d share with you this cracker of a comment: “Come on she is blonde cannot wear a hat correctly and she thinks a bar job is beneath her, get real ducky.”