Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You've Got the Degree. So Why Are You Pulling Pints? Don't Assume That a Degree Will Guarantee You the Job That You've Trained for. Kate Lovell Talks to Graduates Whose Career Paths Took an Unexpected Direction

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You've Got the Degree. So Why Are You Pulling Pints? Don't Assume That a Degree Will Guarantee You the Job That You've Trained for. Kate Lovell Talks to Graduates Whose Career Paths Took an Unexpected Direction

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE LOVELL

IF YOU think your degree will guarantee you well-paid employment and a place on a prestigious graduate trainee scheme, think again. This summer more graduates than ever have flooded the job market, yet the number of companies and organisations offering graduate level jobs and sought-after graduate training schemes has not grown accordingly.

With this year's graduates shouldering a debt in excess of [pounds sterling]2.46 billion (an average of [pounds sterling]13,501 each), according to a recent survey by Barclays, more and more graduates are being forced to compromise on their dream graduate position simply to keep solvent.

While the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) puts graduate unemployment in 2003/4 at mere three per cent, a survey by Higher Education Careers Services Unit, Graduate Prospects, found one in 10 graduates take clerical or administrative jobs straight after university. And according to graduate job agency, Graduate Recruitment Company, almost a third of new graduates move into jobs that are low-paid or administrative.

"The idea that all graduates should sail from university into highly paid graduate jobs within weeks of graduation is a myth and always has been," says Graduate Prospects chief executive Mike Hill. While nine out of 10 people secure graduate jobs within seven years of graduation, when the interest on your loan is building up, it's a long time to wait.

English and Education graduate Martin Oetegenn left Roehampton University in 2003 with high hopes of becoming a publicist - and [pounds sterling]15,000-worth of debts.

Although he managed to land a job as an assistant to an actor's agent, his salary was a meagre [pounds sterling]18,500, and he soon found he had to boost his income through intermittent evening bar work.

"I'm currently paying [pounds sterling]40 a month interest on my student loan, so I have to ensure my repayments are high enough to cover that and also pay off some of the balance," says Martin, 24. "Without the bar work I wouldn't have been able to pay my rent."

Eighteen months into his role, Martin faced up to the fact that while becoming an agent would mean a bigger pay packet and a more creative role, that kind of promotion wasn't likely for years.

"I began to feel really insecure in my position and I realised the job hadn't lived up to my expectations," he says, "I started to open my eyes to the kind of challenges I really wanted."

Martin took a chance, left his job, trained to teach English as a foreign language and now freelance at various London TEFL schools.

"I love it," he says, "and it's much better paid. I'm using my degree and I have a clear career path ahead of me."

The hype surrounding graduate jobs still seems to fill many students with unrealistic optimism. …

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