YOUTH MATTERS: ‘What are employers looking for?’ by Jenna Cowling

The one question that has haunted me ever since I started university is: what are you going to do when you’ve finished?

I don’t know many for whom this doesn’t result in a muffled ‘I don’t know’ and a swift exit.

It is the lucky few who already have a potential vocation in mind, while the rest of us live in the hope that a role as a professional cake-taster for Tesco will become available as soon as we graduate. I will be graduating next July with an English degree from a good university.

As I am constantly reminded by my lecturers, the three-year course has provided me with a ‘variety of analytical skills’. When I tell other people this they assume I’m planning to become a teacher.

Well I’m sorry to defy expectation, but I don’t really want to be a teacher (although I know many who do).

There is a plethora of other career paths I might choose to take, for instance law, public relations, maybe even journalism. The possibilities are endless... the world is my oyster.

Nowadays, of course, a degree is not enough. Plenty of my friends who graduated this summer are yet to find jobs because of the current economic climate, and due to their ‘lack of experience’.

Yes that’s right, you need MORE! More experience than anything your academic life has presented you with so far, so what exactly are employers in the market looking for?

It’s experience. That may not seem relevant to your ultimate career choice but show employers you are a well-rounded candidate.

This includes work experience, studying abroad, volunteering, your part-time job at the local supermarket.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Many companies are happy to take students on, but only as part of an unpaid placement.

This might be fine if you’re just doing a few weeks, but if the placement lasts a couple of months and you don’t even get travel expenses, you could end up out of pocket.

This is where volunteering comes in. With so many charities and causes reliant on the help of volunteers you are bound to find both something you are interested in and that fits in with your studies and/or part-time job.

You might not be earning but all the time you are adding to your CV, the most exciting part.

Unfortunately the job market is not about to change overnight and I understand cake taster jobs are highly over-subscribed.

So no, I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m finished, but why am I writing this article? For the ‘experience’, of course.