Dear Future Employer

Words by Briana, 20 VIC

Dear future employer,

What is the answer?

How do we break the cycle?

The cycle where we study. We attain a casual job. We graduate.

We have graduated but are still at our casual job that we can’t survive on, with no apparent experience and a debt to pay. We have graduated, yet we might not end up working in our chosen field because we simply can’t get a job.

As university students, we do not want to be in our low-income casual job forever, even if that is all we are qualified for. That is why we study, because we won’t be able to get a job otherwise.

Will we ever get the opportunity to work in our chosen field?

What is the answer?

The contradicting advice that older generations like to tell us is “Don’t worry about what you want to be when you’re older, you have your whole future ahead of you!”

Yet, we hear the career advisers telling us to book an appointment to discuss what degree you want to undertake, what subjects to choose that would lead into a pathway, which university should you choose to get the best out of your degree and what ATAR you need to get into a certain university. In that moment, it is hard to take a step back and think “I have my whole life ahead of me.” The path you choose now does not mean it will be the path you follow forever.

The problem lies in the rigid structure when we access a career path and employment. 

Finish high school. Go to university. Get an industry-related job after you graduate.

These expectations are a mantra in my mind that has been embedded throughout high school, reinforced by peers, family and strangers when asked “what are your plans after high school?”, “which uni’s have you applied to?” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years’?”.

5 years doesn’t worry you when it seems so far away, but now the 5-year timeline is coming to an end, the pressure to land a career in industry is building.

The mantra leaves no room for any other choice.

What is the answer?

The first piece of advice when choosing a career path is: “If you don’t know what you want to do, start with what you are interested in.”

It seems like sound advice, and it is advice that many take – myself included.

Yet this advice leaves us with ‘wasting’ years in a degree that was better off as staying as an interest. Unfortunately, doing a degree because it linked to a hobby or interest does not guarantee a job. Plus, there are only so many fields of interests I am willing to consider. 

So, what is the answer when a Bachelor of Arts degree isn’t enough?

There is a stigma associated with the creative industry. Such as ‘it’s not a real job, ‘you are going to be poor’. As if a successful career in health, business, law, education, and science are the only things that are important in life.

I believe we should not measure our success by our career. Yet, that is the biggest thing that is stressed to us as we leave high school.

What is the answer? 

What do I do when I want experience for an industry-related job, but the entry-level placement requires X-number of years previous experience? 

I do not have X-number of years previous experience, but does three years of studying count?

Of course, it doesn’t.

Knowledge is not experience.

What is the correct amount of experience? 

I am fresh out of university. I have knowledge behind me.  Studying a specific field is what I have spent three years doing. Yet, it counts for nothing…?

What is the answer?

What is the trick to getting past the complicated application site, just to get a better paying job at Coles until we find something more permanent in our field?

Which buzzword hits the system right?

Should I put I am available 24/7? 

No, I am not 15.

What is the answer? 

I get told I need to ‘fake it until I make it’ to be successful when in an interview for a team member position in retail.

Be more expressive, be enthusiastic, say this,

But do not say that,

Don’t say too much, but have I said enough?

My answers fall flat when I cannot explain a situation, I have not had the opportunity to be in. That does not mean I do not have the capabilities to do the job.  That is the point of hiring me. So that I develop further experience, no?

Employer, I feel you set the standards high.

What is the answer? 

Even placement does not guarantee a job.

I am trying to get X-number of years’ experience through placement. I have done many hours volunteering, completed internships but still can’t land a job.

Why don’t you understand?

Do you have any suggestions? I am happy to listen. 

Make the three or more years of our degree count. This is what we have to offer. This is our experience. Give us a chance, we are willing and excited.

Dear future employer,

What is the answer?

Illustration by AileenYou can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc

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