Disappointment: A Dish Best Served Cold

So I guess some of you who know me know I have a complicated employment set up at the moment. Regardless, one of my jobs involves working with university students, some of whom I have written about before. I don’t work for one of the redbrick / Russell Group uni’s; I work for a London-based one with a lot of international students, and it’s a great place, IMO. There are a lot of hard working and dedicated students who have fought tooth and nail to get there and who will go far.

Now I’m not that old (though I concede I’m getting on a bit now), but I do sometimes feel that there is a huge dividing chasm looming between the students and myself when it comes to attitude. Maybe it’s because I didn’t go to university. Maybe it’s cos I’m Gen X (just!) and they’re Gen Y. Maybe it’s our backgrounds. Maybe it’s nothing as complex and it’s just the way we are.

I always try and offer more help than I am asked for when it comes to the students. If someone comes to me asking for help with their CV then they will get that and more. I can’t make them act on my LinkedIn, networking, work experience, whatever tips, but I can give them the chance to see that there’s more they can do to make themselves stand out and be as ready as they can when it comes to job hunting. Some work closely with me throughout the year and use me for all I’m worth. Others see me once and I never hear from them again (though I always follow up with emails).

This year was the first year any of my students had graduated though and, honestly, I was a little disappointed! Now it’s not true of all of them, by any stretch of the imagination, but the number who simply vanished off the face of the earth post-graduation was astonishing! Though the big employers may know roughly how many graduates they’ll be looking to recruit from year to year, SME’s often have no idea until maybe a few months before. The decision to hire anyone, graduate or not, is not taken lightly. Lots of people came to me looking for graduates – more than I had hoped or anticipated. And the biggest disappointment to me was that some of (what I’d thought were) the best, most inspired students, who I had worked with for most of the year, were too busy travelling/holidaying/chilling out to bother applying for these jobs! Jobs where, in some instances, I could genuinely put in a good word for them if it were appropriate!

The whole concept still astounds me! To go through three years of studies in order to get a good job and then, when jobs are perhaps at their ripest for picking on the graduate scene, to have a break… Well. I don’t get it, frankly! And it makes me a bit sad, because when did attitudes get so lax?!

But much respect to those who do still keep in touch with me and who are committed to their job hunt. Those who, day in and day out, apply for jobs, stay motivated, and do all they can to put themselves out there. It is those who will succeed, and it is those who make my job so very worthwhile! 🙂


9 Responses to “Disappointment: A Dish Best Served Cold”

  1. 1 Lisa Scales September 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Wendy

    Great post and thought provoking for a generation who are apparently going to be “lost” – in normal life away from work I have exposure to a couple of Gen Y’ers (if there is such a term) and attitudes between them range from complete apathy to the job market/finding work to determined, focussed and want to make a million before they start growing chest hair types!

    I do think looking at the small cross section that I have come across that the difference in these people is their whole reason for attending university and the course they did.

    Vocational courses have obvious routes to the job market whereas the more “fluid” and generic courses seem to produce graduates with little direction and planning on a career – I blame the uni’s and the system in part for this – Universities have to supply courses that are appealing to a young, connected, digital generation but actually there aren’t the jobs out there that fit the degrees being acquired.

    To me the system sucks – the education system should start helping young people to plan for careers when GCSE options are being thought about NOT when they fill out their UCAS forms or in their final year at uni – if a person at 13 was inspired to do Chemistry,Biology and Physics at GCSE because they wanted to be a Criminologist I feel there would be alot more of the right attitude when they come out the other end into a job market. Its just a thought but thought I would throw my ideas into the pot – I just hope when my 2 children are at an age I am still involved enough in the industry to be able to guide and help them!!! (if Im not too old and grey lol :o)


    • 2 Wendy October 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      I actually have mixed feelings about the level of direction graduates should have though. While I agree there are some with generalist degrees who don’t have a clue, there are others who are extremely specific about what they want and I think this can be quite unrealistic. Expectations management plays a big part and I think it’s badly handled by all parties – parents, friends, teachers and employers.

      It’s definitely unfair to tar everyone with the same brush – some of the students I have worked with have been inspiringly motivated, despite the odds. And I applaud that!

      I also agree that the education system should start guiding students earlier in their career. That said, though – I had no idea what I wanted to do at 21, let alone at 15…

  2. 3 dominic sumners September 21, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Hi Wendy
    Enjoyed the post and i do get the same feeling when i have interviewed grads recently. However – in mnay ways i think they are right and we may be wrong – why rush into the world of work – once entered you will probably be stuck in it for 30+ years with a few weeks off a year unless you get laid off/paid off/take a break.

    NB this may differ wildly from the advice i offer my own children when time comes

    • 4 Wendy October 5, 2010 at 9:28 pm

      Well that’s true I suppose. And I don’t disagree in some respects… But on the other hand if there’s an opportunity ripe for the picking then shouldn’t they take it now and worry about the holiday later? I suppose that’s more my gripe. Maybe I am being unfair?

  3. 5 Paul Weston September 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Wendy,

    Cracking post matey!!

    It is sad that all that hard work and effort, seemingly, goes to waste. But, at the end of the day, these students/kids have crammed and done extra studies, they probably feel they need a break from it all, and as you say, many do go on Gap Years etc and chill out.

    Depending on which industry, some are hit harder than most, jobs are few and far between due to the market down turn, and could it be easier to take a break from it all before going into employment now….?

    I never entered myself into further education, opting for the “I want money for beer” route instead!! So kids, never come to me for any advice on what courses etc to do….especially in the building industry!!

    • 6 Wendy October 5, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      You have a fair point. I didn’t go to university (technically I am a student now, but it’s not like being a proper full time student, if you know what I mean!) and maybe I don’t totally understand. Maybe they do need a break. But there is needing a break and looking a gift-horse in the mouth surely?!

  4. 7 Su Butcher September 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Wendy,
    I find the entire education thing really depressing, I must admit. I don’t blame the students at all, I blame the education system. Takes me back…
    Anyhow, there are some inspiring people trying to make things better, trying to help students be passionate about what they want to do so it becomes a lifelong enthusiasm. Then the slide from full time education into full time work isn’t such a wrench, because one doesn’t finish, for a start.

    When I feel down about education I watch Ken Robinson. Here he is in 2006.

    If only we could get his ideas to happen…

    • 8 Wendy October 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      I find it pretty depressing too, to be honest, but I do think that some of the education establishments are genuinely doing what they can. I think we’re all to blame in some respects. Expectation management is a big problem and parents, peers, employers and educators are all responsible for that. It’s certainly a tough one!

  1. 1 He’s Just Not That Into You « Wendy the Recruiter Trackback on October 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm
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Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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