A new chapter… maybe

Long time, no post.

I’d like to say I’ve been busy, and in a way I have. Adjusting to life after University is kinda hard; particularly when you don’t have a job to go to!

Bouncing back from job rejections…

… Is pretty hard to do. I mean, picture it:

4 years of your life have just been spent toiling over a degree, which is not only a Master’s degree, it’s also in a technical subject. Everything that your society, educational institutions, teachers, parents have told you to do, you’ve done and done it well. You feel like, finally, you can get that well paid job that everyone has told you that you want. You can start saving money to go on cool holidays, you can start life in the real world. As an independent adult with an income! … … … And then you can’t.

It’s crap. It makes you question yourself. It makes you question your worth. It makes you question your past efforts: what was the point? It makes you question your future: do I even have one?

In a way, I still haven’t gotten over this.

I did, however, find things to do in spite of not having a placement on a graduate scheme or a permanent position of employment. That really is the key. Find a way, any way, of keeping busy. Developing skills and showing you are able to adapt to difficult situations is a great way of coping with the rejections, but also a great way to show any potential employer that you have the ability to keep going in the face of adversity (says the unemployed graduate!).

The Internship

I took an internship at Boeing Defence UK at Gosport. I learned an awful lot about Defence Engineering projects, and the people management that goes along with it. I did a lot of engineering work, in spite of it being a project management internship, and that did a lot to keep my self-confidence in my professional ability as an engineer high! It also meant I could save up some money to move on to the next thing.

An internship is a good thing to do in the short term to keep your skill level up. I wouldn’t recommend back-to-back internships; but as a way to keep up-to-date on modern engineering practice and keep a finger on the pulse of the industry, it was very useful.

The Volunteering

I mentioned in a few posts before that I was going to take up learning German as a foreign language, and I did at Uni… but I’ve since spent the first month of 2016 volunteering at a Kindertagesstätte in Bielefeld, Germany.

Amazing what you can do with an A1 qualification and a bit of extra work!

I taught some English to the kids, and learned a hell of a lot of German in the process! What’s been great about the volunteering for me, besides the obvious benefits of language immersion, is that, after having suffered the feelings of worthlessness and despair after all the rejections at the end of Uni, I could see I was being useful to society. I wasn’t a useless grad who struggles to get a job, I was a grad who was making the best of his situation by being useful to others.

Bottom Line

After working so hard on a punishing degree, and then not getting an instant return on that investment, it’s easy to feel like you’re somehow broken.

The fact is, the system is broken.

If a system of society and education allows people to develop good qualifications and good qualities as professionals, but can’t then find them jobs, there is something wrong. What’s weirder is that the jobs actually exist! There isn’t a shortage of positions for intelligent, well qualified and adaptable people in the British (or indeed worldwide) jobs market. It’s just that there is no effective mechanism to move people from their positions of graduation to employment.

The result is that the major companies in the UK get away with treating graduates as if they grow on trees. Which is a problem, for the companies as well as the graduates. Sure, you can get an engineering graduate that can do some nice maths and modelling, because that was part of the core curriculum. Can every graduate do that, while managing a project and dealing with a team of people? I would hazard a guess that this was not the case.

So, what have I done about it? I’ve just been stubborn, really. I applied to jobs that weren’t specifically graduate roles. I applied to everything that I could. Even after all that, only one job has stuck; and just barely at this rate (thanks to security checks).

 

Wish me luck.

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