A chance for "the lost generation" to find itself

For the graduation class of 2009, leaving university is even more bitter-sweet than previous years. We will experience the usual tearful goodbyes mixed with hope and excitement for the future as well as the relief that the emotional roller-coaster of exam term is finally over.

Yet it would seem for most of us the days of baked-bean diets, Tesco value vodka and reusing tea bags are far from over. Having been tempted at enrolment by the prospect of good wages, steady jobs and secure careers, many graduates are finding the job-security light at the end of the exam-term tunnel has turned into the dark likelihood of impending unemployment. Adding to a year’s media coverage of the doom and gloom awaiting prospective job hunters, the recent revelation that there are 50 graduates now applying for every job is certain to leave a cloud hanging over many graduation days this summer.

Not only are there fewer jobs on offer, but statistics show that of the 300,000 summer graduands, more than half are vying for places on graduate schemes and jobs starting in September. As the majority are expected to attain 2:1 and Firsts, companies have to look further than academia to differentiate between applicants.

However, it seems unless you can speak five languages, run a club for local children, have volunteered in a Mongolian orphanage and pet unloved horses on the weekend, you can’t even get an interview. Even the Stepford students who have managed to do some of these activities are finding that jobs are going to more skilled and experienced graduates from previous years, leaving us feeling rather like “the lost generation” that various sources have prophesied we will become.

Recent Warwick graduate Rebecca Pendleton feels the graduates of 2008 and previous years have the experience we lack: “I certainly don’t feel there’s much chance of a job now,” she says.

Job chances also depend on prospective career and degree disciplines. Many of my maths and engineering peers have secured placements and jobs, but the majority of arts students, with subjects unspecific to a definite career path, are feeling the crunch as administrative and creative roles are cut.

Competition is also steep in the legal sector. Emma James, a Manchester law graduate and prospective solicitor, will start her career in 2011 at the earliest, as applications for training contracts have soared by 150 per cent from last year.

Having been lured on enrolment by the prospect of up to 15 per cent higher earnings than those enjoyed by non-university peers, the class of ’09 are being turned down in droves for jobs, even for those that don’t require any qualifications.

However, maybe the black clouds of recession do have silver linings. In the past, numerous graduates have applied for positions of responsibility, having gone straight from school to university and then directly into the workplace without any kind of travelling or wider life experience. Having to rethink their careers has meant many are considering options previously eclipsed by the all-wondrous City job; the most common being fleeing the country.

Working ski seasons or summer holiday camps now seem to be popular options as is teaching abroad. English and German graduate Sarah Ann Brown is looking positively at the recession, since having felt pressure at university to find a well-respected job, she now “feels free to do something I really want to do”.

Other graduates are finding jobs in fields previously unknown to them or not even considered. Alexis Barber, who graduated in English and creative writing at Chichester University in 2008, applied to numerous jobs that required her skill set, and stumbled across something she loves. “I had no idea conference production even existed,” she says.

People who originally applied to big financial firms are now going for jobs with companies such as Shell, Lidl and Aldi, as all are still hiring graduates for retail, IT and financial jobs with competitive starting salaries.

Graduates are also considering yet further education, language courses or unpaid internships, despite averaging £15,000 in debt (and rising!). In such strong competition with last year’s graduates, it is necessary to become more competitive; deferring the job hunt for a year doesn’t seem such a bad idea, either. The current predicament may also prove good for the future job market, as perhaps the class of ’09 will be more driven, more employable and (hopefully) will grow up with a more acute sense of financial responsibility.

As for me, I am considering several options and trying to avoid focusing on the cloud of recession doom, and rather on the silver lining of long-term career prospects. I like to think that perhaps my generation won’t be the ones who were “lost”, but rather the ones who just had time to find themselves.

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Science Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Sc...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice