The Hard Truths About Graduating From University

I don't know about you, but for me, going to university was always my goal. It was my focal point throughout high school, and a huge motivator for me to get out of the country town I grew up in. I wanted nothing more that to move to Melbourne and surround myself with people who actually wanted to be studying, as well as working to my own schedule for the first time in my life.

Well, luckily I finished Year 12 (the final year of school in Australia) with a high enough score to get me into my first preference: a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Business. A double degree, completed over four years; the arts component made up of media, literature and Japanese units, while the business component was marketing.

Bramble and Thorn, University, Graduation, Getting A Job, Employment, Unemployment

Ziggy, seen here helping me with my marketing communications homework 

Fast forward a few years, and I've graduated. Then a month after graduating I went overseas for eight month, brushing aside worries of future employment and the question of "what do I want to be when I grow up?" for the experience of a lifetime. I had the most wonderful time travelling the world, however as my return to Australia started to loom ever closer, panic started setting in. What was I doing with my life? What do I do now that I have graduated? My entire life up until this point had been made up by following a series of events: primary school, high school, university, eight month long holiday. When I returned to Melbourne on January 10th, 2013, I was returning to a blank slate for the first time in my life.

Bramble and Thorn, University, Graduation, Getting A Job, Employment, Unemployment

My boyfriend and I graduated when the Earlybird Instagram filter was the best thing ever

I made the decision not to return to working part time while I searched for full time job, which was really only made possible by living with my parents. There's no easy way to say this: looking for a job is an awful, soul-destroying experience that will make you question your self-worth every time you receive a rejection email. That is, if you're lucky enough to receive a rejection email. I would spent hours each day trawling through job sites, tailoring my resume for each application, hoping they wouldn't sense the desperation through my cover letter.

Perhaps the worst part of applying for a "proper" job is the language used in the job description. I was alarmed by how virtually every junior/coordinator/entry level role required a "minimum of two years experience" in a similar role. How on earth was I supposed to gain that elusive experience if no one would hire someone straight out of university? As a few months went by, and no job interviews secured, I was at a very low point. I was constantly being asked "how's the job hunt going?", and I could tell my parents wanted me out of the house. I spent my time living between my parents and boyfriend's house, which made me feel a bit like I was homeless.

Bramble and Thorn, University, Graduation, Getting A Job, Employment, Unemployment

Drinking beer in Copenhagen and not thinking about the job search I faced when I returned home 

In the end, it took me five months to find a job. Whether or not this is considered a long time I don't know, but I can tell you this period was one of the worst times of my life. I was completely broke, and had no way to gauge how long I would be stuck in this awful cycle of applications and rejections. I only had two job interviews during this time (the second was for the position I was successful for), and must have applied for over a hundred jobs. Fortunately for me, the job I got was actually incredible - it was for a television network here in Australia, with an amazing location in the heart of Melbourne.

What I'm trying to get at here is the utter na├»vety I had when I started this process. Absolutely nothing had prepared me for how difficult this would be, and virtually all of my friends have echoed similar sentiments. I truly believe that students should be made well aware of this throughout school and university - for example, there are more journalism students than there are jobs in journalism in Australia. As such, students need to know exactly what to expect when they graduate, and unless you're one of the lucky ones that benefits from nepotism (no hate, you gotta do what you gotta do), it's a hard road out there. Nevertheless, no matter how difficult things get, just remember - you are amazing, and eventually an employer will see it to.

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