Recession Blues

As a struggling graduate who is far from living the dream I am always interested in what hijinks other struggling graduates have been getting up to. Times are hard, but the really sharp graduates can still be an enterprising bunch and there’s always a chance that they’ve stumbled onto something lucrative.

Desperate times

Several weeks ago a 24 year old media production graduate’s campaign to get a job went viral after he advertised himself on a billboard in London. Adam Pacitti’s multi-platform attack from online CV to website, Twitter and real world billboard was a campaign that could have been conjured up by any worthy advertising company, and he’s clearly no stranger to the media limelight. Currently it seems that Pacitti is buried under an avalanche of enticing job offers, and I’m sure I’m not the only person curious to know what the outcome of all this will be. Adam Pacitti has slightly more money to throw into his campaign than the sign wearers of the 1930s, but it’s a sad cycle; the desperate unemployed have been here before. His campaign is simple, clever and shaping up to be successful, although it is far from original in the current economic climate. As I finished my final year at university in Dublin 26 year old Féilim Mac An Iomaire spent €2,000 renting a billboard in the city center in the hope of finding suitable employment without having to emigrate (enduringly wishful thinking as I can attest – although I’m not doing much better for being back in England).

This or a flight to Australia?

But maybe you’d prefer to make it at home?

Although I admire Pacitti’s gall (even if he is just a bit too smug), this sort of attention grabbing campaign irritates me on several levels. First of all, not everyone has vast amounts of money to squander on renting billboard space, nor should graduates have to go to such extremes to get a job. And even if I did have a princely sum saved up from my minimum wage job and/or jobseekers allowance I would be hard pushed to want to spend that on advertising. Spending in excess of £500 on advertising is simply too much, especially if you’ve already incurred the financial hardship of a number of unpaid internships and work placements. Advertising yourself in this manner is a massive gamble that personally I would be unprepared to take. However, I would be willing to emigrate which is potentially a much bigger financial risk – if I even managed to somehow scrape enough money together for that to be an option. It is a sorry state of affairs that a creative and intelligent person should be in the position to have to go to these lengths in the first place, and recession notwithstanding the government needs to address the way it deals with unemployed graduates. It is not appropriate for graduates to be pushed into unpaid placements at supermarkets (and such placements should paid at least minimum wage, if not living wage – but that’s a different post topic). This is tremendous waste of talent, and surely bad news financially for the government if graduates are unlikely to ever be earning enough to make a dent in their student loan debts.

In short, you’re unlikely to see my face on a billboard anytime soon, but for the few chancers with the courage, drive  and money to burn on an advertising campaign I hope the gamble pays off – because if such extreme action won’t get you a job worthy of your education then what hope do the rest of us have?

Edit: Just realised the irony of posting this immediately after a post about gold!

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2 comments

  1. DolceVita

    This is an interesting read and is very true on many levels. Why should graduates have to ‘beg’ for jobs? As students graduates have sacrificed so many years on their life, working hard for GCSEs, then A-levels, then Univeristy etc. whilst perhaps holding down a part time minimal wage job (and yes paying taxes at that!). We were encouraged by government to go into further education and we have very little appreciation for our efforts. Today if we do manage to get work we are often exploited, a new kind of slavery.

  2. Angela

    It irritates me that there seems to be no care given to graduates after university. The job centre encouraged me to take part in an unpaid work scheme at a supermarket. My very first job when I was 16 years old was working as a cashier in Tesco, and it was insulting for them to suggest after years of further education (and at that point after internship number 1 as well) that I should go and work there unpaid to ‘gain experience’! The job centre also suggested an IT course which I did take, but thought was completely unnecessary – I know how to use Microsoft Word! At the training centre I met a lot of older people who for whatever reason needed to learn to use a computer from the very beginning (there was a builder who had paralysed his arm in an accident and had to change career). This course was suitable and useful for them, the place was wasted on me. Later I had a job interview and mentioned the course as hard evidence of my computer literacy and the interviewer had no idea what I was talking about! It would have been helpful if the job centre had been able to help me find suitable internships in industries relevant to me degree – that would have been great.

    In America it is now possible to pay vast sums of money to do an internship, so you pay a company to work for them. For free. I wouldn’t be surprised if that starts creeping in here, I can already think of one of two places that do this. So much for social mobility! The whole thing is incredibly frustrating and I wish I could think of a way out of it, but I guess the problems are a lot bigger than me.

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