The graduate | student divide: The root causes of Bitchassness

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So earlier I wrote about how sometimes, university students can say really mean things to recent graduates (read post here). I wanted to be fair and discuss the root causes for the insensitive comments. Now I could go into market research/public opinion research mode and create a short survey — but ain’t nobody got time for that!

Instead I will use myself as an example. You see, when I was a student I was exactly like many of  people I described in the previous blogpost. I judged people for not finding jobs and if they were working a Jill job, I judged them for doing something ‘beneath’ them. Needless to say that in my time on the job market radically changed my mind and that now I recognize that there is dignity in any position, and that one’s job does not define their future jobs or their intellectual capacities.

So how do we  get to the point of being so critical of each other? To the point of being so bitchy? My answer is that we are surrounded by myths from a young age that do not get addressed before we have graduated.

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Myth :  Get good grades at school, go to a good university and get good grades there and then you will get a job. Eventually, you will buy your own house, get married and have kids.

Reality: We should be telling people to mind the gap between university and entering the professional workforce. For many people, the reality looks more like this:

Go to school –> get good grades –> go to university –> intern/volunteer/ work x repeat throughout degree –> | unemployment| –> get the job that you were hoping for.

Canadian statistics say that on average  88 percent of graduates are employed within six months of graduation (but that could really mean any job. I was employed within four months of graduation but it was not permanent). However, most people will have found a position within two years of graduation. And unemployment doesn’t only happen to Arts students; as the comic series Wasted Talent illustrates, engineers can also go through unemployment. In fact, I know an engineer who has been unemployed for, at least, two years.  All of this is to say, that the relationship between university and the workforce is not that evident.  Finding a job is not something that happens instantaneously. I, and several of my other peers, thought that we would all score positions within one month of graduation. Yep, that expectation got rapidly revised.

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Myth: We should only admire people who managed to get a job offer before graduation. If you haven’t gotten one before graduation then you failed. If you are working a McJob, then you truly, and utterly are doing nothing with your degree.

Reality: Even when people intern and volunteer, they may not be aware that the summer of third year is when most of the recruitment occurs for job offers extended before graduation. They may not feel confident enough to apply to companies that could offer that type of security. And some companies, such as, management consulting firms,  blacklist you for two years, if you fail their recruitment process–which can serve as a very powerful dissuasion method for a university student. The student may also be going through some personal, financial or other type of problems preventing them from applying. So to summarize, people may not participate in the graduate student recruitment process because of a) lack of awareness, b) lack of confidence or perceived skills mismatch and c) miscellaneous reasons.

Therefore, it is not fair to expect all students to have secured a job before graduation. Now about the Jill job. People have bills to pay. A monthly pass in my city, Vancouver, costs 91 dollars a month, the equivalent to a full day of labour at a $12/hour position.  In some cases, people also have to start repaying their loans, or maybe they have to pay rent or maybe their phone bill. As recent graduates, we no longer get student discounts (unless we cheat our way to get them) and so the fiscal responsibilities suddenly start appearing. Can you really blame someone for trying to make ends meet? And even if that person doesn’t need a Jill job, can you blame them for deciding to structure their time instead of facing unending hours of agony?

From a young age, we are taught to admire prestige– prestige is the unattainable. It represents you being the creme de la creme. We admire the high school students who are valedictorian in their class, do a plethora of extra-curriculars and remain popular in their school.  Prestige heightens a sense of accomplishments. However, the truth is that it should not be that way. Jobs do not define a person’s worth or contributions to the community and if they do, like Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote Nickel and Dimed said,

“[t]he ‘working poor’… are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.”

Being critical of one’s thoughts is difficult ; yet, remembering that everyone has dignity in their line of work has helped me immensely in my interactions with others.

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Myth: Grades matter.

Reality: Only sometimes. Some jobs, such as management consulting, commercial banking or investment banking, will truly care about your grades. In fact, my last position at Company 1, was in none of those fields, yet they asked me to send an unofficial transcript along with the rest of my application. Nonetheless, many other positions do not require grades. In fact, now that I think of it, I do not really see how grades always demonstrate ability. In certain classes, the top marks were given to those who knew what appealed to the professor’s taste and not to those who thought most critically.

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Of course, there are many other myths that could be addressed. I think that The Travelling Epicurean does an excellent job of addressing them in his/her blogpost called “What College Never Taught You.” I hope that this blog post started unravelling some of the root causes for the division between university students and recent graduates. At the end of the day, the short answer is that students have not woken up and smelt the coffee.

That’s it from me. xox S.

 

The graduate | student divide

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So, I hesitated to write a post relating to this question. When I asked around my social group on whether I should post this or not, I got very mixed responses. I know this is a controversial topic and maybe I just took other people’s comments/questions too seriously. However, I feel that maybe there are other people out there who are facing the exact same issue.

Is there really a gap between recent graduates’ and students’ perceptions of employment? On the one hand, I feel that the answer should be no; we are from the same generation and we face the same problems of high expectations during university, unpaid internships, and more elusive entry-level opportunities . Furthermore, the majority of my friends are still completing their degrees and they have been really supportive while I am job-hunting.

On the other hand, personal experiences points to great differences between being a university student and an (un)employed (recent) graduate. Now, once again, I have friends who are still university students that they were extremely supportive. Nonetheless, I had many acquaintances/friends who really had a lot bitchassness. Yeah, I’m salty! And I want to write about this because I know I used to be one of those bitchass people when I met recent graduates.

Here are some sample bitchassery questions:

  1. Did you find a job yet?
  2. Have you applied to any jobs? Where? How many jobs have you applied to?
  3. What do you do all day? So you do nothing?
  4. I found a survival job in two weeks. What is taking you so long?
  5. Uhm, I don’t know. Network?
  6. Oh why don’t I try to talk to you about job opportunities that you have no interest in but never ask you what you actually want to do. (There is a difference between this and actually giving advice)

First, unemployment is a purgatory an experience that one needs to live through in order to understand. The implications of not finding a job are not the same when you are in university (no money, no money for tuition, nothing to put on resume, nothing to keep me busy for this period of 4 months) and when you have graduated (really nothing to keep me busy, bills, bills, loans, parents breathing down my neck about expenses, lower self-esteem).  So, unless you have witness, been through or are going through prolonged unemployment, it may be hard to make judgement calls.

As I mentioned before– and if I haven’t, I meant to mention this– I used to have a lot of bitchassness in me when speaking to recent graduates. Here are some tips to cure the bitchassness.

  • Don’t ask, “Have you found a job yet?” right before or right after “How are you?” In fact, don’t ask it at all.
  • Instead ask, “What have you been up to?” or “How are you?” Finding a job is very stressful and sometimes people are getting traction in their job searches but it is not manifesting as job offers. Or the simple fact that people are not defined by their jobs. Whether or not this person is currently employed, they still have a lot to contribute to your life and others’ communities. If you are looking to catch up, it may be better to ask open-ended questions and let them volunteer the information.
  • Unemployment is not equal to laziness. Some people think it is okay to ask you what you do all day– that’s rude. It is just rude. Often, people can’t find jobs not because, they are lazy or not trying hard enough; but because, their search has not yielded anything or they feel emotionally unmotivated.
  • Do take them out to do something. If this person is your friend, then now is the time to go take them out to do activities. It will probably allow the two of you to release tension from life. And of course, catch up!
  • Don’t give advice if you haven’t used it. Most of all, don’t be self-righteous about it. The guy who suggested that I did nothing while unemployed and that I should network, on the same night mind you, would probably struggle with networking. There are so many books written about networking and yet most people– even those, who are working– really dislike it. It is a struggle to understand how to make networking work for oneself. Don’t remind people of this lady.
  • Do listen. Let the person vent and take the time to understand their perspective. You don’t want to fall in the Bitchassery #6 category.
  • It is most likely that the graduate has applied to jobs online. Applying to jobs online has a low success rate and it is most of the times the first thing people do. So asking that question is, in my opinion, stupid.
  • Remember, people will always remember how you make them feel.

Ok, invisible readers, I think this blogpost is getting way too long but I hope that together we can stop the bitchassness pandemic and save relationships in the way.  Once again, this is not meant for everyone but rather for some people who do make people feel this way. I put plenty of links on the page, with information that will complement or contextualize the post. Hopefully, the comments don’t go crazy with hate/troll comments– but then who am I kidding? Almost no-one reads this blog. Shout out to my Japanese reader K <3.

That’s it from me. xox, S.

 

Edit: I wanted to add another do. Do connect people with other recent graduates or resources. Post-university life can strangely feel isolating and it is therefore, good to meet people facing the same challenges as you. 

I’m going to be unemployed again

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Dang, I have neglected this blog for a while. I know I should update more frequently; however, I have been feeling a little down and I did not really know if I wanted to write about it. You see, invisible reader, after a short contract position, I am finding myself facing unemployment again. And it. freaks. me. out! I can’t emphasize enough how stressed I am. It took five months for me to find this contract position and I am scared that it will take me longer to find a permanent position.

 I know I learnt a lot from being unemployed but I kind of want class to be over. I loved my experience working a 9-to-5. I crave it– which is why it is scary that I am facing protracted unemployment. All I can do at the end of the day is to do my best, push myself outside my comfort zone, “network”, apply online, and make a blitzkrieg on this unemployment thing. But I am also eternally confused. I feel that there is either not enough information and guidance given on how to find a job or that all the information is conflicting. It makes the whole process confusing and painful.

I will stop here for today. I am sorry this has not been the most uplifting blogpost.

On being 22

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Last week, I was twenty-two. It only means that yet another year has passed since I was born on this beautiful planet Earth. However, I wanted to take the time to reflect my year as a twenty-two year old and what I have learnt since then.

When I was on the cusp of turning 22, I was in a strange place of my life. On the one hand, I could graduate from university after only attending classes for three years as opposed to the usual four years. I could also take a Masters in Management from my alma mater. Or I could just do a minor. 

It took me all the rest of summer– which is one month by the way– to decide on which path to take. Of course, invisible reader, you might be thinking “DO THE MASTERS.” But I felt that the format was too jam-packed of different classes in really short amounts of time. In other words, I thought– and still think– that if I were to invest in a masters it had to be a program that I believed in. So, at the last minute, I decided against doing the masters and just went on to do a minor in Economics.

Which turned out to be agonizing!

That econ minor turned out to be a fail!

 

Don’t get me wrong; there is no agony worse than unemployment. Yet, after starting my economics classes I realized that I wasn’t engaged; I was tired of talking about the reasons that I continued studying; I detested exams as a method of grading and so much more. My grades– my really good grades– started slipping and I started having a lot of anxiety and stress which led to many tears. 

The way out turned out to be graduating on the date that was initially available to me and making these classes count as surplus credit. And paf! I graduated. (I never got to go to the convocation though).

Eventually, I had to make the decision on whether to keep taking superfluous classes or start looking towards my next steps–which for me was a job. I chose the latter. January 2013, my job hunt began.

What did I learn during this time?

  • Don’t push back graduation because you are scared of the real world. The truth is there is a lot of learn outside university and life will surely have a way to work things out. I learnt so much since graduating; alas, that is material for another blogpost.
  • There isn’t really a difference between Economics, Political Science or any other social science. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation as me, don’t think that these things actually differ in the real word. I wanted to learn economics to demonstrate I understood math. I should have just taken classes in a local college.

Ok, that was a long, but therapeutic post for me. That’s it from me, xox. S