Thursday, 20 October 2011

What every graduate should feel about graduate fairs.

On Tuesday afternoon I ladened myself with printed CV's and a map and headed over to Islington for the London Graduate Fair.

It's quite clear now that I needn't have bothered. Having read an article on youth unemployment on the Financial Times online the night before, I tried to remain undeterred by the mention of disheartening graduate fairs, this one was going to be different. Apart from it wasn't, and I did end up feeling stupid; I wasted my money by travelling there and all I got was a couple of free pens and some 'best employer guides' produced by people who weren't even there!
The split between Universities offering post-graduate courses compared to actual jobs was disgraceful. Additionally, without meaning to sound rude but it's going to happen anyway, the jobs on offer were hardly life-changing and only left the ultimate feeling that you may as well have tried your luck at working in a supermarket for the last four years because you definitely would be somewhere by now and not have to be attending this farse.

I'm not saying that as a graduate I am automatically entitled to 'better jobs' but when I attend a graduate fair I would expect to see a range of employers offering more than retail or sales roles. These aren't really graduate jobs and I feel sorry for those that were eating it up. No one is inspired by call centre roles and I don't know anyone who would list those kinds of jobs as their ultimate dreams.
I am aware of the lack of jobs out there, but why would you even advertise it as having lots of potential employers, when really it is a sea of universities, job search engines and volunteering roles.

I got suckered in to signing up to be a teacher, because it's my fall-back plan if I am still unemployed by next July. However, I'm not taking the aforementioned application any further, can you tell I have no desire to be an ICT teacher? I know there are Art & Photography teaching positions available, in fact if I had a PCGE already, I would probably be totally set up by now. So why should I settle for a job that is completely irrelevant when there are plenty available that are, it actually baffles me.

The overall feeling from both myself and Moon was anger, we were lied to and I don't think that that's a particularly farfetched exaggeration. Perhaps I knew there wouldn't be a lot of employment opportunities, but I didn't expect UCAS Fair: Take two. After taking part in 'Walk 4 Work' and demonstrating that I want to be employed and that I am pro-active and good enough, this took all that away and made sure that I knew I'd wasted my time and should just go and hide at another university for another year.

For a 'graduate fair' there were certainly no graduate schemes on offer, people were herded around the Apple stand when all they had to offer was retail and eventual management roles. There will be people who need these jobs, who don't mind if they put their degree/passion on hold for the next 5-10 years, but I'm not ready to settle and I'm not ready to take something as pointless as this event lying down.

My advice for graduates; never bother with one of these, you don't need it and you're better than that. You've done a degree and you've worked hard and you don't need to be made to feel like an idiot, especially if you've dressed up for it and especially not for a free pen and some books that you will never read.

I was so mad, I even made a video about it on the ride home.

Since 'Walk 4 Work' there has been a lot of press coverage on both this issue and the overall problem of youth unemployment, this can only be a positive thing and hopefully encourage future events like this to be more positive and productive for it's uninspired attendees.


  1. Hey thanks for the follow :)

    I went to a graduate fair at the start of the summer and I completely agree with you about how useless it was! I studied Graphic Design and there was nothing even remotely related to that there. The closest was marketing, and even that you then had to go on a separate course and get a qualification in! Complete waste of time.

  2. Very good article! I was thinking of going to that fair on Tuesday (even though I'm not a graduate, but I thought I could just try haha!) but I actually forgot in the end, lol. It's nice to read this from someone who did go, and shame it wasn't very inspiring or useful for you. I hope you find some good work soon though :)


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