Life After Graduation


Graduation day consists of: family members saying how proud they are as they dab their eyes with tissues, lots of photographs, throwing mortar boards into the air, shaking up bottles of sparkling wine then getting drenched with the carbonated nectar when the bottles are opened, partying with friends and people that you tolerated, bitched about, lived with, cheated off and sexed and waking up the next afternoon wondering where the last 12 hours went.

Spend the summer feeling as ebullient and powerful as a charging rhino travelling with friends to exotic locations that seemed necessary to visit after seeing a few pictures online and deciding to spend the last of your student loans. Vaguely discuss life goals like getting a car and permanently moving out of your parents place while laying on a beach with a mojito in hand. Once home you discover the extent of the debt amassed during your last blowout summer but conclude it was entirely necessary as you’ll soon be a career woman.

Trawl Facebook and discover that some college friends are doing postgraduate studies and some have already secured interviews for ‘dream’ jobs. IM with closest galpal and bitch about the nepotism that exists in the corporate world and state that you’re perfectly capable of making it on your own without the help of a rich and/or famous and connected daddy (which you don’t have anyway).

Finally stop meandering and start job searching with intent to find a job and become an adult earning a salary that will allow you to live like a teenager. Panic, realising that there aren’t actually that many jobs in your desired sector and that getting one may involve a heavy duty application process, group interview days, personal interview days, elimination days, and possible unpaid internships to gain experience.

Download the application material for jobs that you want and stress over 12 page forms and questions that require you to appraise your level of skill, describe your work experience so far justifying why that experience was so valuable and explain how it is relevant to the post you’re applying for while detailing how all this makes you the perfect candidate. After two weeks filling in the blanks for the handful of posts deemed desirable enough a weekend is wasted smoking joints and watching Kevin Smith films. Some time passes during which you fill out a few more forms but they are for back-up jobs that you don’t really want but could deal with in the event that your self-designated tier one companies won’t employ you.

Weeks pass and eventually rejection letters and emails trickle in. Scarily, a few of the tier two companies consider you unsuitable. Chain smoke cigarettes and get back onto the computer to restart the process over but are distracted by online shopping sites and episodes of The Real Housewives…

On Facebook more friends document their job successes. They’re now buying cars, renting properties and drinking fine wine. Even the hairy guy with the stutter that you flirted with in Psychology tutorials in exchange for essay advice has landed work in Dubai.

You are now actively biting your nails, pulling out your hair and searching for full time employment. All application questions and personal statements are copied and pasted into a file named ‘Job Hunting’ so you can tweak and perfect the answers after watching episodes of The Apprentice. Secretly you’re thinking that a) the file will be deleted after a couple of weeks and b) copying and pasting application questions is the smartest thing, ever.

Squeal upon receiving a letter inviting you to interview at a major publishing house. Pull several items from the wardrobe to assemble three potential interview outfits which are keenly and carefully ironed even though the interview is over a week away. Strut into the glass fronted offices of the publishing house brimming with confidence until you see the other applicants sitting in the waiting area and hear the receptionist mention that they are also interviewing the next day. An icy interview panel grills you like a terror suspect. You struggle to answer the competency based questions because they are nothing like the questions the candidates are asked on The Apprentice. Wonder what you have done to deserve this.

Volunteer as a charity fundraiser and take piano lessons under the impression that unselfish and artistic extra curriculars make a resume more rounded and attractive. Run in the opposite direction upon seeing your ex-boyfriend who graduated a year before you only to fall onto the staff roster at an international bank drive past in his BMW.

The ‘I regret to inform you’ letters continue, although some companies prefer to ignore you instead of having the courtesy to write and reject you. HR assistants dole out the same trite ‘you were one of many strong candidates but we found an outstanding applicant that fit our criteria perfectly – but do apply again’ speech when called for feedback. Your parents comment bluntly on how nice it will be when you get a job and leave the house. They even email you classified ads for work including au pairing and selling Tupperware. Typing ‘be on television’ into Google brings up audition notices for reality shows which you print out and highlight.

Reassess your criteria for job posts. Grudgingly decide to become less idealistic. Hand out your resume at restaurants, coffee shops, clothes shops. You are told by the front of house at a chain restaurant that you are under qualified for waitressing as you lack relevant experience. Cry after a day pounding the pavement distributing resumes because there is a piece on the news about soaring rates of unemployment amongst young graduates. Read bank statement then consider doing topless shoots or pole dancing for quick money. Go through your crap and fill 2 garbage bags with clothes and other stuff to list on eBay. Apply online for a post in a call centre for a large collections company.

Boyfriend drives you to the interview with collections company. En route he throws a barb about how it’s a custom fit job for you as you’re an expert at hassling money out of him and your parents. Aware that he makes a decent wage you consider an entrapment pregnancy so you could move in with him, milk being pregnant and ultimately pursue your passion for make-up by offering a mobile makeover service.

Interview surprisingly well, largely because of time spent on graduate employment forums learning from other peoples experiences and your well rehearsed but emotionless answers to questions found on said forums.

Get a kick in the teeth during first day in collections job when faced with the stunning number of recent graduates working at the firm. Listen to the trainer’s impassioned speech about the job satisfaction you’ll gain from being a part of the team at nameless collections firm based in prisonlike offices. Your hackles are raised when he mentions the possibility for immediate career progression based on performance. Maybe you’re destined for a career in middle management.

A few days later you catch sight of your reflection on a computer screen. Yes, that really is you sitting in the pencil skirt and blouse trying to figure out the interest owed on an unsettled balance. The dream is over. You think about maybe taking a post grad course. You’re free as a flightless bird.

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