The Careers Adviser: 'Is a history graduate with a 2:2 unemployable?

Past and present

My son has a 2:2 in history and graduated two years ago. He is working in a bureau de change but the pay is awful and the responsibility high. I feel he is ashamed of his degree. He thinks there are thousands like him with a 2:2 and he is unemployable in the graduate market.

History graduates are popular because of the skills they've developed, such as research and analysis, intellectual rigour and clarity of expression. They can marshal arguments well and create impressive CVs. Your son can use these skills now to identify a wider range of opportunities. Former history students are found in many walks of life – journalism, politics, the civil service, law, business and finance, the voluntary sector or management consultancy. Most do something unrelated to their degree. The problem may lie in finding where to begin. Your son has no need to worry so much about what everyone else is doing. It may help him to think about what he enjoys and take time off gaining experience in areas that interest him. A lot of graduates do have a 2:2, but as time goes on other factors come into play – awareness of opportunities, confidence and experience. Employers recruit real people, and they like extra curricular activities and work experience. Time out working is valuable, especially if properly described in applications. Some employers with formal graduate schemes don't exclude 2:2 candidates, as they like to recruit from a wider pool. It's also worth remembering that only up to 20 per cent of a graduating cohort is likely to go on to a formal scheme. Most graduates start in a job and then move on to what they'd like to do. If the bigger schemes aren't right it doesn't mean he can't get a job in his chosen field – there are plenty of smaller niche organisations with one-off graduate opportunities. He can try new approaches – might help him find out what makes him tick, and allows him to contact those in work and find related job opportunities.

International rescue

I'm an international student doing a Masters degree at Salford, and last year attended a careers fair at which I was given a book containing a list of employers who help with work permits for international students. Is there a more detailed list?

Every employer is entitled to support an application for a work permit. And careers advice staff working locally may try to identify employers who are willing to consider international applicants. But unfortunately there's no national list of such organizations. Your careers department says the advice it gives to international students is that applying for a permit is a difficult process, so it's sometimes easier to try a larger multinational company. These are likely to have been through the process many times, so have tried and tested methods. A smaller family-run business may be more unfamiliar with what's entailed. The United Kingdom Council for International Students has information on working during and after studies and advice for employers on filling out forms on Their site links through to The British Council Education UK site, which also has advice on studying and living in the UK, and can be found separately on Keep up with recent government changes on

Careers adviser: Anne Marie Martin, director, the Careers Group, University of London. Please send your queries to Caroline Haydon at The Independent, Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or email to chaydon

Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam