DREAM JOB? WE'RE STILL WAITING... One University Graduate in Four Now Faces Unemployment, and for the Lucky Few Who Do Find Work, It's Often a Stopgap Job Rather Than a Plum Role in Their Chosen Field. Ruth Tierney Speaks to Five Degree-Educated Waiters Whose Career Plans Are Currently on Ice

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 30, 2011 | Go to article overview
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DREAM JOB? WE'RE STILL WAITING... One University Graduate in Four Now Faces Unemployment, and for the Lucky Few Who Do Find Work, It's Often a Stopgap Job Rather Than a Plum Role in Their Chosen Field. Ruth Tierney Speaks to Five Degree-Educated Waiters Whose Career Plans Are Currently on Ice


Amy Rosier, 23, has a first-class degree science from Bournemouth in forensic master's Cocoa and works at the Cadbury Centre, University, Kent House in Bluewater Shopping Ideal job: forensic anthropologist

When I applied to be a waitress at the new Cadbury Cocoa House last were less surprised at the extensive education 800 of the October, the interviewers section of my CV than I'd imagined they would be. Amazingly, jobs had degrees, and a quarter of the staff 2,000 applicants for waitressing they've hired are graduates, so I'm in good company. It's a sign of the times that there are so many overqualified waiting staff. Obviously, working as a field, so I knew I'd waitress wasn't my game plan. Forensics is a specialised in a niche market, but I've been amazed at the lack of work out which involves analysing be competing digs, but all there. I'd love to be a forensic anthropologist, human remains, whether at crime scenes or archaeological jobs I've applied for have required a PhD. That will mean up to eight more years of study, at [pounds sterling]3,000 a year just for fees, never mind living expenses.

While I'd love to do a PhD in the future, I can't afford it now, and I think I need a break from the world of academia. Being a waitress is a taste of the real world. Plus I need to pay back [pounds sterling]20,000 of student debt, which is why I've I'm applying for moved back in with my parents.

I do 35 hours a week on [pounds sterling]6 an hour plus tips. Meanwhile, reactions when they any job that comes up in my field. Seeing customers' find out what I studied is comical. My revelation is usually met with a blank stare, and I find myself talking about skeletons in a bid to explain! Being a waitress is definitely a means to an end, but there are perks. You get to eat great food in your breaks, and I love my uniform. Plus I've made some good friends. Morale is good - the recession has to end some time.

Oli Field-Johnson, 21, has a 2:2 in maths from Oxford University and works at Pizza Express in Richmond, Surrey Ideal job: accountant

You would think that having an Oxbridge degree would count for something in recruitment, but there are so many graduates out there with excellent degrees that employers are looking for that something extra - work experience. At Oxford we were encouraged to start applying for jobs at the beginning of our third year in the hope that we'd have something lined up by the time we graduated. But it got me nowhere. I was shocked by the number of negative responses from accountancy and management consultancy firms I approached for work. I didn't even have any interviews.

Since leaving uni last June things haven't improved. Although I've applied online for dozens of positions, I'm still no nearer. Part of the problem is my 2:2 grade. A lot of computer-generated automatic screening goes on, where you're ruled out if you don't have a 2:1 or higher. Where you did your degree isn't even taken into account.

Rather than becoming a couch potato, I decided to get a stopgap job as a waiter. My parents, who I still live with, sympathise with how tough it is for my generation.

Although my father went straight to Harvard after doing a degree in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford, he's admitted it was a lot easier to get a job back then - fewer people went to university, and Oxbridge gave you some sort of kudos.

My mum and dad are proud of me for knuckling down, even if it's not exactly the career of my choice. I wanted something sociable where I could chat to others my own age, so when a new Pizza Express opened in Richmond in September I applied for a job. I do 50-hour weeks, where time flies because it's so busy. My favourite section is manning the takeaways because you have longer to strike up conversations with the customers while they wait. I've received some valuable on-the-job training, with Richmond the first restaurant in the chain to run a Living Lab staff development programme, where we're taught everything from conversation skills to wine tasting.

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DREAM JOB? WE'RE STILL WAITING... One University Graduate in Four Now Faces Unemployment, and for the Lucky Few Who Do Find Work, It's Often a Stopgap Job Rather Than a Plum Role in Their Chosen Field. Ruth Tierney Speaks to Five Degree-Educated Waiters Whose Career Plans Are Currently on Ice
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