Image by Tulane Public Relations.
Today, a degree seems to be just that: a degree. When it comes to applying for graduate-level jobs, the actual subject you’ve studied almost seems irrelevant; employers on the whole give the impression of being preoccupied with graduates achieving the all important 2:1, regardless of what subject it’s in or which university the degree has come from.
Having a degree, any degree, clearly shows that a student is academically competent and is a dedicated individual. However, graduate employers need something to act as a benchmark, and it seems that that’s the 2:1 grade; it’s probably the most efficient way for them to whittle down the hundreds of applications they receive for each post into a (probably still quite long) shortlist.
Employers Want Skills, Not Subjects
Taking on graduates with backgrounds not directly related to the specific industry of the advertised job is a common occurrence in graduate employment. The subject of the degree becomes secondary, as graduate employers are focused on the skills through which the degree was attained and also the ones it has in turn developed.
The ability to meet deadlines, to work with peers and figures of authority and to communicate effectively are all developed at university, regardless of the subject you’re studying, and graduate employers largely seem satisfied with this generic sets of skills when offering their jobs.
Experience Over Academics
This makes for stiff competition amongst graduates seeking employment. However, awareness of competition being fierce encourages students to branch out into activities outside of their degree scheme in order to develop their wider experiences, and in doing so they boost their employability.
Setting aside the expertise you have gained in your specific degree once again, employers also look for students who have excelled in activities outside of their degree. Placement years and year-abroad programmes offer invaluable experiences and are ultimately to the advantage those students who have used them to develop themselves beyond academic boundaries.
After all, for a marketing role would you employ the guy with a degree in marketing and no work experience to speak of, or the guy with a degree in creative writing and a whole portfolio of successful marketing campaigns behind him that he’d written the copy for?
More Than Just a Blog
If you’re not in a position to take large chunks of time off for work experience, blogging is a fantastic way through which absolutely everyone can get noticed in a specific field and gain experience. Blogging can help you create an online presence and even become respected as an expert in your field, which could well help when applying for your graduate job.
Going back to the marketing example, if you can’t find work experience in a local agency why not set up a blog on how you’d improve different campaigns by famous brands? You might just see it as a hobby, but employers see it as your portfolio and an example of the kind of creative or analytical thinking they can expect from you in a job role.
Above All, Stand Out
Making yourself stand out from the crowd can only be a good thing in helping you to gain that much sought after graduate job, but personally I can’t help think that the real work – the blood, sweat and tears which have gone into achieving a degree in your chosen discipline – is what should be rewarded. Instead, it gets overlooked.
Should this be the case? Should graduates be expected to have a ‘job history’ by the tender age of 21? Leave your comments below…
Jessica is a student with a vibrant personality who enjoys exploring her passion for writing. She is enthusiastic about fashion and food and is adamant that the two can be indulged in harmony. She writes for the GKBC Academy – sign up free to get published now!