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Student View: Challenges of entering the job market
I’m a final year student studying Publishing at Oxford Brookes University. It is coming to the end of the year now and I am painfully aware that in a few months’ time I will be a graduate... and unemployed. Only time will tell if I am simply unemployed or if my worst fear is true and I’m actually unemployable.
Third year is a blur of deadlines and rushing around desperately trying to find an available printer. However, the serious assignment is to find an actual “grown up” job. Trying to find a job in this economic climate is like searching for an owl in the middle of the day. They seem to be few and far between.
I have found that creating my CV is the most confusing thing that I have ever done. I don’t know what people want to know about me. Do they want to know that I have written for magazines in the past? Or would they be interested to know that I used to sing at charity concerts? Perhaps they may want to know that I have a severe fear of the dark! Trying to find the relevant things is difficult. How can I get the employers’ attention and make them put me at the top of the pile? I still don’t have the answer to this question; but when I do I’m going to guard that secret as if my life depends on it.
The interview is a student’s worst nightmare. I have never had a serious job interview before. For the past four years I have worked at Wine Rack in the holidays and the most serious question they ever asked me was “What is your favourite alcoholic beverage?”. I now find myself reading books on how to be good in interviews instead of going out with my friends. In the past 3 months I have aged about 20 years. As students we are under constant pressure to be at the top of our class or to be the most creative. But what happens to those of us who are simply bobbing along nicely in the middle? Does it really just boil down to the luck of the draw? Or is there science behind the madness of the “real world”? The best tips that our lecturers can give are:
1. Be polite
3. Be appreciative
4. Respond to questions thoughtfully
Work experience is a must in today’s economic climate. You take what you’re given and receive it with a smile on your face – even if your job is to make tea. Gone are the days of thinking that I would graduate from University and have Vogue knocking on my door begging me to work for them. Hello to the days of sorting through a desk full of manuscripts written by the “unknowns” who long to be published.
I am currently working on my dissertation which is about creating tailor-made educational books for children who suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome. This involves me interviewing parents, teachers and children to find out what their “special interest” is and then creating an educational book for them. I have emailed a few publishing houses and have an interview with Sage Publishers in February. I am going to seize this opportunity and see if I can get work experience with them.
“Network, network, network” is all that we ever hear from our lecturers but it appears to be so true. Social networking is vital for people’s survival within an industry and it definitely helps when trying to get a job. Networking is the businessperson’s equivalent to air or water: it is simply essential. I have been conducting research for my dissertation and have been emailing various businesses, publishing houses and academics for help, and being polite has got me everywhere. It has also meant that a few publishing houses have asked to see proposals of my idea once I graduate.
Going into the real world is a terrifying prospect; I feel like a mouse that has just run into a room full of lions. But at the same time it is exciting. For all of us students, this is our time to shine. It’s our time to prove to others (and ourselves) that we can do it. So next time a graduate applies for a job at your company, consider us. We could surprise you.