Fluorescent Adolescent

It's really beginning to sink in that in a few short months university will be over, and a lifestyle of lazy days and takeaways will be replaced by the dreaded condition which all 'adults' eventually suffer from, a JOB. As the workload increases to terrifying levels, and the piles of books on my desk threaten to bury me in a small avalanche, there's a constant niggling thought bouncing around in the back of my mind. Although I try to drown it out with loud music, or make it forget what it's on about with alcohol, I'm reminded of it when that most dreaded of questions is asked, by lecturers or family members who think they're being kind by taking an interest but really you just want to vomit on their head in fear every time they ask it.
"So what are you going to do when you finish university?"

Reading this article on the Guardian website really doesn't do anything to encourage a positive attitude at the notion of entering the workplace. 

  • Youth unemployment rate = 21.9%
  • 1.02 million unemployed people age 16-24 between July and September of this year
  • 1 in 5 young people out of work
That's more terrifying than any horror film I've ever watched. 

Certain members of the government are trying to lay the blame for this on the Eurozone crisis, but it's an issue which I've always been aware of, and acknowledged when I made the decision to go to into further education. I could have stayed at my job at Matalan, earned a full time wage and by now I could have saved enough dollar to consider moving out of my parent's house, or even learnt to drive (Yep, never had a lesson in my life. My rail card is my best friend). But I know from experiencing a summer of a full time retail career that while I may have been in a better position financially, I would almost certainly be suffering from crippling depression and on the verge of being institutionalised. Fair play to anyone who works in that field, but I always knew that it wasn't the profession for me. I kind of hate people, so working in a job serving them definitely doesn't suit me. Smiling literally pains me, it hurts my cheek muscles. Sure, journalism involves contact with people, but I wouldn't be paid to be nice to them. So I went to university, to get a degree in something I had always had a keen interest in and wanted as a vocation. 

I don't regret my decision, especially now that the fees are rising, I feel lucky to have received my education at the 'cheap' yearly rate of £3,225.  But all the negative press surrounding youth unemployment and university graduates who have top degrees yet can't even get a job stocking shelves in the supermarket, is thoroughly disheartening. Where are the success stories, where are the articles detailing the lives of graduates who have landed their dream jobs and are living the perfect lives? There must be some...surely?

The government complains about the number of young people on the dole, but then constantly barrage them with the news that there are no jobs and degrees have lost their value. That's not going to make anyone want to get out of bed and look for work, let alone someone my age. Getting out of bed is difficult enough before 3pm, let alone with the knowledge that today is just going to be one big waste of time, there's no point going to your lecture because everything you learn will be useless because you'll never get a bloody job. They may have work programmes and work experience 'schemes' (I always think this has such a sinister undertone, like an evil secret plot or something) which are apparently "significantly reducing the number of young people on benefits and out of work", but I know that myself or none of my friends want to spend another year without earning money - we actually want to work! The stereotypical view of students as being lazy and unwilling to get  a job is so untrue, everyone I know can't wait to actually have some money in their pocket to spend on something other than Asda Smartprice food or textbooks. We've done the education thing for a good 16 years now, we're ready to start injecting some money into our banks and diminishing those dreaded overdrafts. 

Who knows what will happen to us when May comes hurtling along and we hand in our FMP's, and visit uni for the very last time. I think that while many of us try to remain positive, it's a bleak picture that's being painted out there. While journalists are always going to be required, with the apparent death of print being on the horizon, and a growth in blogging and 'citizen journalism', what is the need for a degree, when anyone can boot up their laptop and publish their views for the whole world to see? Sure, you can argue that 'quality' journalists will always be required, those with writing experience, knowledge and credence, and while I do think that blogging is an excellent platform for developing writing skills and getting your content out there, it's a double-edged sword. 

It remains to be seen, watch this space. It will either be filled with tales of my employment success or a sad story of my weekly trips to the job centre. At least the walk up the hill to the high-street will keep me fit. Every cloud eh.

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