Whilst working at WhatCulture.Com as an Editor, I also wrote a number of successful articles for the site. These articles garnered around a million views over 22 articles, with 469 social media shares. This particular article attracted 33,000 unique views and attracted interest in republication around the web. It also attained 90 shares on Facebook.
22 Harsh Realities You Learn After Graduating University
No, you cannot spend a year finding the perfect internship.
For those of you in a position to hire, and those sadists that spend their waking hours working in “Human Resources” (the quotations are because it’s actually called Cattle Management, to those in the know), it’s the best time of year!
Oh, the influx of bright eyed, bushy tailed and ridiculously impoverished graduates willing to take literally any job for any wage are here! Having spent years having that disgusting genuine interest and enthusiasm beaten out of them through exorbitant costs and maniacally giggling alcoholics with god complexes (Read: Professors), it’s finally time to get to work. Of course, before getting to work, you have to find work. This is considerably more of a challenge than getting out of bed at four in the afternoon every day and eating Coco Pops in a room full of two hundred hungover people.
Still, if there is one thing that earning a degree shows, it is perseverance and motivation. We know this is true because you have to persevere and have the motivation to drink thirty four WKDs a night and pretend you are enjoying yourself in a club ankle deep in urine, instead of having a nice pint down the pub and beating all your friends at pool.
Now, let’s hit these new graduates with a bit of wood with nails in it! The wood is a metaphor for life, and the nails are a metaphor for getting out of bed everyday before the sun and doing your minimum wage job!
22. Life Owes You NOTHING!
Let’s get it out of the way, it’s an obvious one but people still miss it. You may feel, as life has been fairly good to you up to this point, that in some way you deserve for life to keep being good to you. You don’t break the law, much. You don’t beat up grannies. You very rarely kill people.
Unfortunately it all adds up to nothing. There is no taking part medal, there is no economic model to ensure trickle down prosperity. There isn’t even anyone who cares (outside of your dear old mum, who will always care). The horrible truth of the matter is, you are on your own. Life is hard, full of people who want to take what you have and will use any excuse to get it. Taxes, mechanics for your first car, mum wants her investment back, etc.
The point is, everyone will take from you if you let them. The way to avoid this is to get any job, fast. Now you’re in the rat race. Squirm, little rat! Squirm! You are at the bottom of the heap and the only way to prosperity is to be exceedingly lucky, or to work exceedingly hard and to outmaneuver the competition.
You better have been paying attention to Game Of Thrones, the only difference between that and reality is we don’t chop poor peoples heads off anymore, we just take their entire world worth.
21. Your Degree Is Useless – It Was A Waste Of Time And Money
The news doesn’t get any better. That degree you slaved over? You struggled for, and spent thousands upon thousands of other people’s money on? It really was useless. The brickies who went out and get an NVQ were right, because they have a valued trade and you have shiny paper.
The problem is, a degree isn’t worth much any more. When everyone has a degree, then effectively no one has a degree. And the people who really don’t have a degree are nearing four more years of experience than you in your field.
But there is a silver lining…
20. You Have Contacts And Friends In The Same Industry
Your friends (unless you were the Draco Malfoy of Kent University) are actually there for you! As long as you are there for them. If they find a job and that place is looking for more people, odds are they will recommend you.
Plus, your very expensive degree paid for you to meet lots of high-ups in your industry that like to pretend they care about young people! That means you can manipulate them into giving you a job. Sure, it’s for peanuts but a job is a job.
And a job can only lead to one thing…
19. Promotion! Only Joking, You’re Being Fired!
So you got the job, bully for you. It’s a good start but with roughly half the population of the UK in work, you aren’t special. Yes, those 33 Million other people are all above you in seniority, but don’t dwell on it too long, you’ll be above poorer people next year. It’s the circle of life, according to our friend Elton.
You may take the job for peanuts, not even having to pay taxes because you’re paid so low, and you dream of the day you’re promoted to a real full time position with an actual contract and everything! Well, it’s not going to happen. What is more likely is that you’ll be fired, because you’re the lowest rung on the ladder and every single industry is hemorrhaging money. Still, you have that little bit more experience and that is important when constructing the perfect…
18. Curriculum Vitae!
The course of your life! That’s what it means. But we actually have the real original meaning from a recent discovery of latin literature near Hadrian’s Wall. Curriculum Vitae actually means, “Lie! Lie To Strangers!”. Funny language, latin.
Your CV is meant to be a summary of your skills and work experiences, wrapped up in a little bow of what team sports you take part in and how you love to be a team player. It’s bull of the highest order, you know it and we know it.
You may have heard it is illegal to lie on your CV. This is true, but it is illegal in the way that loving another man in Texas is illegal, it’s stupid and you probably won’t get shot for it (probably, it is Texas after all). Bone who you want, kids. As long as they bone you right back.
You only worked for five months and three weeks at that Banana Stand on Laguna Beach? Screw it! Put six months!
You took 12 GCSE’s, but only passed 11? Literally nobody has ever cared, ever. Put you have 12 GCSE’s, you sat the damn exam didn’t you? Whether you passed or failed, you still have that information in your head! Take artistic license with the truth, because everyone is doing it. Make up skills, activities and why you did that one thing that one time.
One thing to remember about your CV though…
17. Make It Sexy!
Humans as a species are interested in three things. Food, fighting, and as much sex as they can get their grubby little opposable thumbs on. Unfortunately, putting “Bare Knuckle Pie Eating Champion, and I’m not talking about the food *Wink*” on your CV only leads to sexual harassment charges, so take it from us and avoid that one.
It’s difficult to get food, fighting, or sex on your CV and so nobody will find it interesting. Anything you can do to make it unique is good. You praise and you worship at the feet of people who make CV formats and upload them to graduate sites. Worship them!
If you’re a game designer, make your CV into a game. If you’re a composer, make your CV into an orchestral piece so that when they open the sound file your CV plays across the screen. Prove you are better than everyone else, and willing to do things innovatively.
Just don’t make your CV difficult to read.
16. Abandon All Hope Of Innovation
You got the job! Your CV that said you were Prime Minister of India for four years and was composed entirely of interpretive dance worked and now you are employed! Now comes the dream of improving this business, of being the very next Richard Branson. Well, Elon Musk you ain’t!
Here’s the thing. Companies that hire you don’t want your helpful suggestions about gaps in the market. They don’t want your fresh off the press industry analysis, or your report entitled “How to grow divergent markets in unexplored sectors”. Unfortunately, you are a drone, because people more than a year older than you see you as a bawling baby in a pretty floral bonnet.
You see, big wigs in their fancy suits and tax deductible city apartments, they like to think they come up with the ideas. They like to think that without them, the company would literally explode. What they do not like is the post boy leaving his (admittedly, entirely accurate) report on the CEO’s desk uninvited.
This is not The Social Network, get back to work.
15. Gap Years Travelling The World Are For People With Rich Parents
So you’ve been studying for, what, near 20 years straight? Sure you had months off at a time, but you were only a child, it didn’t count! You deserve a year off, a year to see the world. Life is, after all, much more than a 9-5 until you die. There are waterfalls, and safaris and little black children you long to give clean water to, but only if there is a camera recording it to prove how good you are!
Well, shut it. None of that is for you. You know who that is for? That’s for your friend Tarquin who did History Of Fine Art, and whose great-great-great-great grandfather led the cavaliers to victory over the roundheads in some minor battle in the English Civil War. You see, since then, his family have been what is known as “Upper Class” which means they don’t need to work to live. Unlike we, the plebeians, they can take whole years off to explore the wonders of planet Earth.
You need to get serving McChicken Nuggets, and be thankful you aren’t in a slum in Mumbai.
14. Unemployment Is Coming, Avoid Ice-Cream And Netflix!
At some point in your life, whether it’s now or ten years from now you will be unemployed. Maybe both if you’re unlucky. As Bob Dylan said, the times they are a changin’. Robot replacements are skyrocketing and they are cheaper, more efficient and better at our jobs than we are in a million little ways. They don’t even take holidays.
During your period of unemployment, remember to be as strict on yourself as a drill sergeant. You don’t get a night out cause you’re having a hard time. You don’t get to send four CV’s and call it a day, there is no ice cream and certainly no Netflix for you.
Here’s what you get, a full time job that pays literally zero. Your job now is find a new job; update your website, work on your CV, apply for any job going, it doesn’t matter that it’s for a brain surgeon and you can barely tie your shoes. You waste their time with your application anyway because it costs you nothing!
Whatever you do, stay the f*@k away from the sofa!
13. All Of Your Friends Will Be More Successful Than You
Ok, this one might be a little cheap. Yes, to you, your friends will all be stunningly more successful. Luckily to your friends, you will seem like the epitome of success! Unless that is, you’re completely unemployed. Then they’ll pity you.
But pity is better than them laughing behind your back! Or worse, to your face…
Still, try not to pay too much attention to the pictures on facebook of your friends dancing on a boat with T-Pain. It may look like they’re being super successful but the invite to that party was their pay for cleaning four hundred toilets at his concert. And T-Pain fans are not tidy poopers.
Not at all.
12. Food Is More Expensive Than Blood
That title isn’t hyperbole. A lot of the food in your weekly shop costs a lot more than a pint of blood. Mouthwash is the single most expensive liquid on planet earth, per millilitre. More than blood, more than oil, more than the tears of virgins.
You remember when you were a student and you spent that week eating nothing but 4p noodles from Morrisons? Get used to that lifestyle, because you have a choice. You can either look like a competent adult and socialise with your new work friends far too often for after work drinks. Or you can eat like a normal human being.
Lord knows you cannot afford both. Food is horribly expensive, even when you try to buy in meals and only buy things that are half price. The cost of living is a number thrown around by politicians who receive almost £500 quid a day just for turning up to Parliament, even if they’re just fetching their coat and then they leave.
The problem is, the cost of living was calculated by people who are paid well and securely by the government to calculate such things. None of the people involved really know the minimum amount a person needs to earn to live like a decent upstanding human.
They certainly know what amount you need to functionally survive, to eat enough to not die and continue trudging through the disgusting monotony of existence whilst poor. But they expect you to never travel to see family or friends, never have a night in the pub, to forget what the inside of a cinema looks like. Sure you can exist, but you won’t be able to live.
11. Get Used To Rejection
We touched on this earlier, with our overly aggressive instructions on how to avoid netflix and ice-cream in your first few weeks unemployed; but it bears going into in more depth. Get used to being rejected, for little to no reason. Get very used to it.
Often, when applying for hundreds upon hundreds of jobs you will be summarily dismissed without you even knowing about it. You won’t even receive a letter telling you you’ve been rejected.
If you’re especially lucky, if you’re a shining example of someone they might like to employ but only in five years when you’ve had constant relevant experience you might receive a letter thanking you for your application, but commiserating you on your unsuccessful application. Hey they’ll keep your CV on file right? No, of course not. But you might get an interview?
10. An Interview Going Well Means Nothing
It may be a miracle. It may only happen one time out of fifty, if that. But you’re in, you’re through the door in your nicest shirt and tie and you’re waiting in a pretentious foyer on a couch that is just too low to the ground. They are willing to consider you as a person.
Breath, breath. You are a normal person. You can do the job. Breath deeply.
They invite you in and stare at you as if you were some exhibit in a freak show. They ask you innocuous questions like, “Would you say or not say that you are, could be or wouldn’t be inclined to maybe perhaps but not won’t take from the till?” If you stutter, you’re dead.
But you don’t stutter, you ace it. “Shut up, I’m no thief. Give me the job, I’m you’re man! Woof!”
They smile and scribble, and thank you for your time. Guiding you gently but firmly to the door, allowing you time to microanalyse every single utterance, every move you made.
You feel it deep inside, you’ve nailed this. It feels good. You ring your parents who are so happy.
…and you never hear from them again.
Turns out an interview going well can also mean nothing, someone else was just better. Or more often these days, they’d rather wait for the perfect person than pay for someone not as good.
You’ll get it next time, slugger.
9. Use Recruiters, But Don’t Be Surprised If They’re Useless
After your first bout of unsuccessful interviews, or perhaps sooner if you’ve been seeking work through the internet you will contact or be contacted by recruiters. They seem so helpful, they just want you to fill out a little form and they’ll offer you a job.
Unfortunately it’s not quite so easy. You see, these recruiters are only interested in you if you can make them money, otherwise you are a waste of time. The way you make them money is by earning money, by getting a job and earning a wage which they can skim off for months. They are the worst sort of middle man, the kind that does virtually nothing and expects most of the reward.
They will flatter you and maybe even offer you some helpful advice. They are not necessarily evil, but good in evil’s mask is easily mistaken.
Certainly use them, their contacts are useful and if you fit the bill of a job they’ll ring you, months after you’ve got a happy, well paying job.
But for God’s sake, don’t rely on them.
8. Time Is The Most Valuable Resource You Have
Gone are the days of languid idling as you float gently down the river in your skiff… Perhaps we’ve been reading too much Jerome K. Jerome. But completely gone are the days of enjoying yourself guilt free. Of spending a Saturday doing literally nothing.
After a short time in actual full time adult employment, you begin to realise that you are not paid for your services, nor for your knowledge or your experiences. Not even for your extensive and impressive skills. No, you are bribed to waste hours of your life making other people money! That’s the way the system works. That is what a job is.
You spend too much of your time making other people money, or helping other people make money for a much smaller percentage of that money at regular intervals. And all because they’ve taken the risk of starting their own business and setting up a system of making money.
If you’ve got the skills, the balls (or female equivalent. Ovums?) and the risk taking nature needed to build it up, it could be you making the money…
7. Apart From The Crippling Stress
So you decide to set up your own business selling rubber dipped bananas covered in chocolate sauce. Why would you do that? Rubber isn’t edible! Beyond your poor choice of product, there are bigger problems ahead. The reason people choose employment over following their own dreams is that in real life dreams crumple like badly made meringue.
Watch a single episode of Dragon’s Den. Really watch it, don’t get pulled in by the dramatic music and interesting products that you would or would not buy. Look at the eyes of the dragons, they are haunted and they are hunters. They look at these mewling lambs that wander into their den and wonder how they can pump them for every penny they have, then cast them out.
The vast majority don’t even get that far, and the majority of those that do get that far are turned away with nothing for being completely haggard, useless and unsuited to business.
Making your dreams reality really can kill you. And not in a Freddie Krueger sort of way, in a businessman dying from auto-asphyxiation while masturbating in a hotel room sort of way.
6. Flats Don’t Get Better Until You Get Richer
So for three years you lived in a mouldy, tiny apartment with four other people who you hated. It was only for university right? It wasn’t meant to last! It was meant to be high-rise, glass walled modern masterpieces from here on out! You did what society said and went to uni, time to live like a king even if your job sucks.
Well, nope. The flats you lived in when you were the poorest rung of societies fetid ladder are still the flats you’ll be living in now. To be perfectly honest, you’ll probably be in those sorts of flats for the first few years. Unless…
You pay! You pay hand over fist for a decent place to live! Not big, nor even really nice, but decent! With the sort of mould that doesn’t kill you if you breath it in and if you pray extra hard to Estatia Agenti, the goddess of houses, it might even have a washing machine so you can avoid sitting in the laundrette for five hours every weekend.
These are the silver linings you’ll need to cling onto to remain sane.
5. Commuting Is A Punishment
They look so regal, don’t they? Those Erin Brockovichs and those Don Drapers who march silently onto the tube every morning, coffee in one hand, paper in the other and shoes expertly shined. The very best of those commuters might already be getting started for the day, budget reports in one hand and a monogrammed pen in the other.
These are real professionals. These are the people who make the world turn. Upon their finely sewn shirt shoulders does the balance of Man rest.
That’s how it looks from the outside. Try taking a train with them every day, twice a day. You begin to nickname them. There’s “Cheaty McHateshiswife”. Here comes “Sexually Repressed Sally”, squinting like she hasn’t had any in five years yet inexplicable walking like John Wayne. What does she do to get that walk?
These people, no matter the finery they are dressed in, are tired, overworked, resentful and they look so stern and regal because that is the face you pull when you see a fresh young graduate and you genuinely consider drinking their blood to restore your youth and live differently.
The do not want the responsibility they have to bear, but they do like money to provide a nice life for their families. That is until the kid grows up and the cycle all starts again.
4. Your Work Friends Are Your New Family
Remember when you spent hours telling your dear old mum how your day went? Well forget her, because apart from a stranger you see at Christmas and the occasional lump of money in your account, she’s gone now. You will work, and socialise with your colleagues. Odds are, you may even live with one if you happen to enjoy coitus or halfing the price of your rent.
They really become the only people you see. People you spent years and years with, side by side, you will only see them once a year now. Even then it’s only a night at the pub around Christmas. That’s why employers care so much that you’re a good fit for the team, because when you spend 40-50 hours a week with someone you have to really like them. Like, a lot.
3. FOMO Will Ruin You
There is a thing that a lot of people blame for their poor performance at university. That thing is FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. Sure you could stay in and study for your final exam, worth eighty percent of your grade. Or… Frank from the flat next door is going to Terrible Club A tonight, and is going to have pre-drinks at his. He’s been texting you all day to get you to go. Don’t be boring he say’s, don’t let the side down. It’s just one quiet drink.
Well, gone are the days where you could actually go out the night before work / uni / an exam and actually get away with it. You’re body is well over that particular hurdle now and it will destroy you if you abuse it. Fear Of Missing Out has become Fear Of Missing Sleep. Naps are the new big thing in your life, and early nights are all the rage.
You can still drink at home though! A single glass of wine with dinner! And every friday night you and your colleagues will cram into the nearest boozer and pretend to enjoy each others company while only talking about work and people you work with. There really is no escaping it.
2. Nothing Really Changes, Everything Changes
This is something of a given, if you keep your eyes open and recognise the signs. But for those of us with fewer brain cells to rub together, don’t be surprised if after-university blues come round and hit you in the stomach every few weeks. University really was the best time of your life, the perfect balance of adrenaline, purpose, guidance, control, levity and responsibility. You were surrounded by supporting friends all in the same position in life as you and it seems you could always scrounge an extra fiver from the back of the sofa for a night out with your mates.
It’s all changed, and yet it hasn’t. Those friends are still there for you, but they’re spread out across the world doing amazing things. The fiver down the back of the sofa isn’t for beer anymore, it’s for council tax. The hopes and dreams you worked so hard to maybe accomplish aren’t a big step closer, they’re a thousand tiny steps further away, with a handful of big ones thrown in for good measure.
Still, if there isn’t a silver lining, there is also one last bit of bad news. In this case, it’s that…
1. You Will Be Poorer After Uni Than You Were At Uni
This is perhaps the hardest pill to swallow. It all feels so unfair after so much stress, hard work and constant effort. The poverty you endured is nothing. The destitution you lived in is nothing. Even with your now regular earnings, you will be comparably poorer than you were when you had a nice dollop of loan to tide you over every three months.
The real monster of graduation is that it is a slow, difficult struggle. It is a step by step fight to get out of poverty. You are the modern Sisyphus, endlessly rolling the boulder up the mountain just to watch it fall again each night. Endlessly working to pull in just enough money to survive, seeing it sweep away again as everyone you’ve ever met takes their cut.
But honestly, it does get better. You find a husband or a wife, get a better job, car insurance gets cheaper. Eventually you’ll be making enough money to take a little holiday, or maybe pop out a sprog if you’re so inclined. In the end, uh, life finds a way.
If there is anything we’ve missed on this exhaustive list, any excruciating detail you want us to correct or if you just fancy telling us we’re conceited for being employed to write about unemployment as a job, please let us know in the comments section. Please. Go on. Your tears fuel our website. Mwhaha. Ha. Cough. Ha.