University; the corporate machine.
Graduates are fighting off thousands for soul destroying jobs. It’s time to bring graduate careers into the present.
I’m writing because I’ve just had one of those moments. I’ve been reading Tim Ferriss’s epic The 4-Hour Work Week. I’ve got that fire in my belly. My mind is going at 100 miles an hour about how and where I can take my new brain child, The Cool Graduate. I’m also lying here just wondering how we’ve all got it so wrong.
Let me take you back to the beginning. I graduated in 2013. Having travelled before and throughout university I wanted to work abroad after graduating. I went to the careers advisers and explained that I would like to work abroad in the charity sector. They said to me “sorry, we can’t really help you with that.” And that was that. I walked away and google became my careers adviser.
At university, we were drowned in corporate career junk…ipads were thrust under my nose to sign up to Milkround, KPMG balloons floated in the library, my university hung Accenture banners in the hallways…we were brainwashed throughout our undergraduate degrees for that all important final year frenzy when we started wondering what on Earth we were going to do the year after.
There are over 1.7 million students in Britain today. And somehow, our graduate career advice comes down to the ‘top’ 100 employers. PWC have come out top for the last 12 years…not surprising considering they employ 1,200 graduates every year, that’s a lot of data. Let’s face it, how would the small, vibrant and fun start-up come close to the corporate giants? Even if the graduate employed in the start-up has taken on a huge amount of responsibility and scaled the business from a successful prototype to a medium sized enterprise…that graduate has only got one vote. There’s 1,200 of them at companies like PWC.
So, in among my thoughts about graduate careers brainwashing is a brilliant publication from the great recruitment company Escape the City. It’s a list of the top 10 companies that people want to escape from…and where they are going to work instead. The ‘escape’ list could have almost been a copy and pasted list of The Times Top 10 Graduate Employers list. PWC is the third most popular company to flee from…yet they’ve been the ‘top’ graduate recruiter for the last 12 years. Maybe they are genuinely doing some absolutely outstanding short term training and then encouraging people to flee their nest…or…maybe not.
Here’s for the cherry on the cake in my story. I bought my cousin pair of socks the other day. He is working in the city. The only way he’s surviving is by planning his departure to work in Asia. In the mean time, he wears a suit to his boring job. The socks were from a company called Quiet Rebellion. Across the office the socks look ‘professional’ to keep up appearances for the boring job. The hidden part of the sock on the foot is doused in some crazy, very colourful patterns and they come with a funny ‘rebellion’ story on a postcard. Nice touch. They made me laugh. Quiet Rebellion is a hilarious, entrepreneurial response to let’s face it, a sad situation. Do we really live in a society where men who work in offices express themselves by sitting smugly at their desks with a pair of £9 ‘rebellious socks’ hidden in their expensive shoes? Yes. Yes we do.
Let’s sum up…The graduates are fighting to get into corporate careers. A few years down the line, these graduates will flee from the very companies and positions that they fought off thousands for…wearing silly socks as proof of their rebellious nature.
Unlike what everyone tells us about graduating, we are living in an incredibly exciting era. Post credit crunch has given rise to seas of start-ups, financial technology, social enterprises, digital nomads…the world of work is changing, rapidly. It’s so exciting. I am so thrilled to have graduated surrounded by all this opportunity. Then I think back to my careers adviser who couldn’t even deal with my question about working in the charity sector, let alone working abroad…
This must change. We need to bring graduate recruitment into the dramatically evolving 21st century. These young, driven, adventurous and ambitious graduates need easy access to this evolving, exciting and challenging new world of work…so they don’t get suckered in with free pens and feel like they ‘might as well’ apply to the corporate graduate scheme because they ‘don’t know what they would do otherwise’.
The Cool Graduate is my brainchild. It’s a platform of inspiration for students and graduates…for everything but Milkround jobs and the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. Wouldn’t the world be better off if Britain’s greatest graduates were doing something that gave them that mad excitement for life? We’re changing the narrative. Let’s talk about passion, dreams and fulfillment. Let’s talk about breaking down boundaries and working all around the world. Coaching dissatisfied professionals flee from boring jobs has become an enormous industry. The Cool Graduate is helping graduates avoid the boring jobs from day-one.