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Anyone else feel like their degree was a complete waste? watch

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    I am coming up towards the end of my PhD and am going to have to start the dreaded task of finding work... any work. I previously found my undergrad and PGCE of no help what so ever finding work. Teaching was mainly zero hour contracts in FE. I did spend five years working in fairly entry level jobs in Libraries, but due to multiple restructures and very low wages I completely gave up on this career path. I have also been doing a bit of ad hoc writing and journalism but again this is mainly unpaid. I am now looking at applying for graduate schemes in supermarkets etc. or looking at doing a law conversion course. Has anyone else faced this merry-go-round of bad jobs, restructures and employers that fail to value education? When is it time to throw in the towel?
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    (Original post by waif)
    I am coming up towards the end of my PhD and am going to have to start the dreaded task of finding work... any work. I previously found my undergrad and PGCE of no help what so ever finding work. Teaching was mainly zero hour contracts in FE. I did spend five years working in fairly entry level jobs in Libraries, but due to multiple restructures and very low wages I completely gave up on this career path. I have also been doing a bit of ad hoc writing and journalism but again this is mainly unpaid. I am now looking at applying for graduate schemes in supermarkets etc. or looking at doing a law conversion course. Has anyone else faced this merry-go-round of bad jobs, restructures and employers that fail to value education? When is it time to throw in the towel?
    Nope.

    Sounds like you've lacked focus though. So far you've clocked up seven years just on the PhD, whilst thinking about doing up your house, worrying about redundancy, wedding planning and writing a book...

    Libraries, teaching, law conversion, grad scheme 'in a supermarket'? Whyd you wanna do those disparate things?
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    Firstly, don't be disheartened. Making the jump from university to employment is like going from child to adult. Uni students are children - never owned a house, never stood on their own two feet completely, never lived without the parent safety net. It's a big jump for all graduates.

    University is NOT designed to make you more employable. It will qualify you for interviews, but many of the skills you need in a job are simply not taught in university. University also does not mean the end of learning - once you find a professional job, you'll find that learning continues. Those that aggressively continue to learn, expand their experiences and skills, are the ones that excel. If you were told university would lead to a linear job and career path, you've been lied to.

    What you probably need to concentrate on is marketing and selling yourself better. I used to be a consultant (independent) for a couple of years. One of the hard bits is figuring out what you are worth, where you add value, what you can bring to the table. How do you sell yourself? What are you genuine strengths? This isn't easy to do, but this is the bedrock of what your CV should communicate. Sit down quietly and reflect. Brainstorm. Look at job ads and see how you stack up. Look at companies and see what challenges they have, do you understand them and could you contribute to solving them?

    Next, you need to figure out your skills gaps. Are you crap at presenting? Well, if you're like me - a total introvert that cannot stand a group of more than 3 - then tough because it's an essential skill. Presenting is the way to communicate ideas at work. The are many ways you can work on this in a constructive way. Maybe your job involves quantitative financial modelling, or strategy building, or problem solving with ambiguous data. whatever it is, figure out what your weakness areas are for your particular career/job and address them. Understanding the variance in a role and strengthening those areas is what separates the best.

    You need to get seriously involved in your community. By that I mean if you want to a UX designer, then you need to join like minded Linked In groups, visit network events, create designs and put them out there on the net for people to view. One strategy is to do the job that you are seeking. By that, I mean do it in a voluntary way - above your day job, in your spare time, by doing pro bono work. There are organisations that can help connect you here. Whatever it is, the idea is to make it impossible for you to be declined for that job because you're already doing it.

    Bottom line is that there are a million graduates. What makes you so special? How are you gonna secure a job that doesn't pay minimum wage and rise above the rest? How do you tell an employer "hey invest in me, I'm awesome and will go places"? A degree shows intelligence but it doesn't show you have the attitude or skills to succeed. It's one component only. It's fiercely competitive today. You need to show persistence, grit and resilience. There are numerous fantastic books that will inspire you. I'll recommend a couple here. I read this book 4 years ago and sprung me into action: Entrepeneur Revolution. Also Seth Godin has some motivational messages in his books. 7 Habits of Highly Successful People is timeless - you will get as much as you put in to this book. A treasure trove.
    Good luck
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    (Original post by silent ninja)
    Uni students are children - never owned a house, never stood on their own two feet completely, never lived without the parent safety net. It's a big jump for all graduates.
    The OP owns a house.
    After an undergrad, PGCE and seven years of PhD are you saying the OP is still a child?
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    (Original post by Quady)
    The OP owns a house.
    After an undergrad, PGCE and seven years of PhD are you saying the OP is still a child?
    No I'm saying graduates in general are still making the transition to adulthood. They are still finding their way to true independence and aren't the finished article by any means. The OP hasn't found his/her "place" (not that there is a single place).

    Like I said, qualifications are not directly relevant to employability (unless it's something like Medicine or Structural Engineering which are narrowly focused and highly specialised etc). Listing out PGCEs, PhDs doesn't make your point. The OP is still looking for a career regardless of number of years of study.

    Anyway, let's take the emotion out of it. Out of my pretty long post, it's curious you you pulled out this one line. Does it have a ring of truth? If you spend 5-10 years in work after university, you'll look back on yourself as a naive graduate that needed the help of many people to get where he/she is. In career terms, you are a child at that stage. If I am interviewing a graduate, the thought in my mind is "You have nothing to offer. I'm going to have to invest time and effort in you. Why?" It's your job to convince me that you have the underlying values and perhaps a glimmer of skills that I can latch on to. If you come out of uni with an entitlement perspective, you are going to be seriously disappointed.
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    (Original post by silent ninja)
    No I'm saying graduates in general are still making the transition to adulthood. They are still finding their way to true independence and aren't the finished article by any means. The OP hasn't found his/her "place" (not that there is a single place).

    Like I said, qualifications are not directly relevant to employability (unless it's something like Medicine or Structural Engineering which are narrowly focused and highly specialised etc). Listing out PGCEs, PhDs doesn't make your point. The OP is still looking for a career regardless of number of years of study.

    Anyway, let's take the emotion out of it. Out of my pretty long post, it's curious you you pulled out this one line. Does it have a ring of truth? If you spend 5-10 years in work after university, you'll look back on yourself as a naive graduate that needed the help of many people to get where he/she is. In career terms, you are a child at that stage. If I am interviewing a graduate, the thought in my mind is "You have nothing to offer. I'm going to have to invest time and effort in you. Why?" It's your job to convince me that you have the underlying values and perhaps a glimmer of skills that I can latch on to. If you come out of uni with an entitlement perspective, you are going to be seriously disappointed.
    Why bother post back by reply with generalities which arent relavent to the poster you're replying to then?

    Surely a PGCE is directly related to employment though - why else would do one?

    I pulled out the first paragraph. Sure, again, hardly relavent statements to someone who has been in work following graduation.
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    More than half the people I know that did degrees never ended up working in the sector their degree is in, probably about half of them work really average jobs as well.
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    (Original post by username1888127)
    I am coming up towards the end of my PhD and am going to have to start the dreaded task of finding work... any work. I previously found my undergrad and PGCE of no help what so ever finding work. Teaching was mainly zero hour contracts in FE. I did spend five years working in fairly entry level jobs in Libraries, but due to multiple restructures and very low wages I completely gave up on this career path. I have also been doing a bit of ad hoc writing and journalism but again this is mainly unpaid. I am now looking at applying for graduate schemes in supermarkets etc. or looking at doing a law conversion course. Has anyone else faced this merry-go-round of bad jobs, restructures and employers that fail to value education? When is it time to throw in the towel?
    What sector do you want to go into? (I will try to give more specific advice to you)

    Employers dont fail to value education, there are just loads more people with degrees than there are grad roles so they look for

    1. Relevant work experience (this could of been gained when doing a undergrad via a summer internship, its harder for a grad to get though)
    2. Good evidence of soft skills like leadership, critical thinking, teamwork etc etc (these can be shown through things you have had to do at work, during a phd, when doing societies etc)
    3. The right technical skills and good evidence of them (ie programming for software dev jobs)
    4. Ability for you to write a good application/CV/Cover letter
    5. This comes into point 4 really but I will say it as its important. The ability for you to convey and draw on your experiences to show the employer why they make you great and good for the role rather than just stating things you've done (saying you've done them doesnt really mean anything)
    6. You need to perform well in interviews and at assessment centres, this comes with practice, getting feedback and then improving on that feedback

    Having a degree means you are 'eligible' to apply for those grad roles but it doesnt make you competitive at all and doesnt show the employer why you would be best for the role vs all the other grads applying that also have a degree, the above things do.
 
 
 
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