anyone else feeling the graduate squeeze?

As we look back at 2014 and gear up for 2015, spare a thought for the thousands of graduates who are yet to find a job in the competitive market. We ponder as the year draws to a close, what the future is for the young, educated and unemployed.

by Dan Wilkinson
Dec 27 2014, 8:20am

December, the time of the year for those who've just started university to look forward to two more years of toga parties, half remembered make out sessions and that one time you thought it would be good to cut all your hair off. But for those who've graduated into the big bad world, all those nostalgic memories can seem as distant as the naive dreams they had when entering university.

For those who've graduated with a job it feels like a progression, the next chapter in the book of life. Watching The Graduate recently, you can see the void that the protagonist Ben feels after graduating, realising that he can't do anything else than what's expected of him, but has no idea of what he really wants. Everyone can relate to the movie's depiction of how it feels to be thrown out into unknown territory and not have a clue of the direction.

Once you contemplate the working world, you feel like you've lost already. Having a week ruled by five days in and two days out, who wouldn't be scared of giving their weekday away, only to have exhausted weekends thrown back at them. Weekends mostly spent recovering from a heady Friday leading into a forlorn weekend. Life eventually starts to blur after routine becomes the norm.

For those who graduate, post university depression is very real, with 95% of students agreeing about its existence in a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy poll. Pair that with the way that most relationships begun within university don't have the best chances of surviving past graduation, Glenn Wilson a psychologist at Kings College describes university romance being like a "shipboard romance, isolated from the real world and its additional stresses, so when people emerge they begin to meet new people and go separate ways". So being depressed and without the person who force fed you Relentless after you collapsed from eighteen hours in the library, it can be hard not to consider a big part of your life over, though not all in a negative way. I mean there's no better time to take a long look at the what you've done and where you've come from, with a modest sense of smugness, you made it through three years of late nights and semi-early mornings.

Though you then start to realise that without a student loan or steady menial job, having the perfect bachelor pad becomes another item of your adult wishlist, so aside from staying in your friend's inherited house, you'll most likely be forced to move back to square one: home with your parents. You won't be the only one however, Mintel has found that one in four recent graduates end up living with their parents. If your parents live in London or within the other major creative cities, not such a bad situation; eggy soldiers for breakfast, head to Pret and the park for lunch, you could even work from the British Library until you get the right job interview. However, if your parents were more attracted to leading the country life, hundreds of miles away from the nearest city, you're in a very different situation. With the Higher Education Careers Services Unit declaring London the first destination for new graduates, you really do feel as if you're at a disadvantage if you're anywhere else.

Wherever you are though, there's no better time to reflect and plan out your future life, not just the outcome but more the process of how you can get there. Pin a few inspirational quotes just above your bed - my personal enlightened favourite being, "education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom," by one woman empire Oprah Winfrey. If your parents have taken you in, bury yourself in the important task of applying for jobs using every site imaginable (even the mostly creepy Craigslist). If you have to get a part-time job in the daytime to keep yourself afloat, use at least a few nights a week to focus on the future, but try not to let that overtake your life. Give yourself a personal project like a blog or even a new freelance role you hadn't considered, like being a writer (it's really not that hard) or photographer to balance work and play. You're going to need something else to focus on because most graduates will have to wait a full six months of applying before finding any full-time dream job employment.

Looking forward it's gonna be a tough 2015 with a higher influx of grads (350,000 just from this year) and the next year's graduates soon to be joining them. This is also time to remind yourself why you went through three years of the best/stressed years of your life; you aspire to the bright lights and sky heights. You couldn't have predicted where you would have been four years ago, so who knows where you'll be in two? i-D salutes you young graduates, you're gonna change the world and you don't even know it yet.


Text Dan Wilkinson
Photography Alina Negoita