Opinion: Students are responsible for their employability, not universities

Sadly, a degree is not all you need any more. Source: Dani Vivanco/Unsplash

What’s the bear minimum you have to do to get a job in the majority of fields? Get a degree.

But rejection letter after rejection letter and countless ignored job applications, your graduate dream job starts to feel unobtainable.

Many turn the blame on their universities, claiming the university didn’t do what it said on the tin: make me employable.

With an increasing number of students suing universities following graduation for being unemployable, it begs the question should universities be doing more to ensure students are desirable job candidates or should the students be taking responsibility for not using their initiative to get ahead of the game?

Recent data has shown 50 percent of employers in the US believe college ill-prepares students for working life. But does the blame fall upon the universities or the individuals themselves?

A university degree seems to promise employability. If you get a good degree, from a good university, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good job, right?

Not quite the response you’d hope for. Source: Giphy

Sadly, that is no longer the case. While a degree used to be enough to make a candidate stand out from the crowd, now graduates need much more than that.

As more and more people are able to pursue higher education, there are less factors to differentiate good applicants. Now, it seems everyone has a ‘good’ degree from a ‘good’ university, so employers seldom look to that as anything other than a prerequisite to the interview – it’s everything else you’ve done that’s important.

The modern day job market it tough and competition in the majority of sectors is high: it pays to stand out.

Knowing this, students should use what they are learning from their degree together with work experience, extra-curricular actives and leadership roles wherever possible.

The majority of universities present opportunities like this to students, but it is up to the student themselves to chase it up and follow it through.

Universities can – and should – provide you with the skills you need to be employable, but it is down to you to put them to good use.

And of course, without the qualification you gain from university you are unlikely to land that interview in the first place. While universities have a duty to support and encourage you, giving you everything you need to thrive in the workplace, ultimately, it is down to you to ensure you leave ready to enter the job market.

Careers services at the university can guide you, advise you and even help you obtain necessary experience, but they cannot gift you with the right attitude, force you to seek extra-curricular opportunities or ensure you turn up to your summer internship.

There is almost definitely going to be help at your university if you go out and seek it, but sitting back and waiting for it to come to you is counterproductive. Get out there! Help yourself or the university certainly can’t help you.

Mum and dad getting fed up? It might not all be your universities fault… Source: Giphy

University is what you make of it and if you seize every opportunity, work hard, push yourself to succeed inside and outside of your course and make valuable contacts while gaining priceless experience, there is little reason you wouldn’t be employable.

But turning up and sitting through your lectures, finishing your assignments and exams and leaving university with the assumption you will get a good job based on the fact you have a degree is unlikely to work in your favour.

Simply just showing up and doing the work does not mean you are entitled to a decent job: you have to earn it outside of university, too. Universities give you the skills but it’s up to you to put them into action.

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