When did a Degree stop being experience?

I went to university when I was 19, thinking I was being smart, making moves that would help me in the future to gain better employment, which I was advised by my teachers. I did a photography degree, not the most useful in some people view, but not everyone wants to be an engineer or has the grades to be a doctor. When I left university where I spent three years learning new skill, meeting deadlines and working very hard on my assignments (as well as drinking and partying a lot like any good student). In all honesty, I throw myself into any opportunity that I could get, exhibitions, work experience, and placements. During my third year of Uni, I was volunteering in a photographic archive, which had a weekly photo spread and column in the local paper which I curated and wrote each week. 

When I finished university at 22, I went on Universal Credit as I had no savings and needed support while I found my dream job. I would have to go to the job-centre every week for ‘meetings’ so they could check that I was applying for the minimum number of jobs to keep getting the pretty small Universal Credit each month, I would also have to log online all the jobs I was applying for. The pressure you feel from the staff in the office to get any job can be quite difficult to handle, I was young and felt that my happiness was irrelevant, any job was good enough. Finding I could not get an interview for the most basic entry-level job, regularly being told I did not have the right experience or not getting any reply. My previous work experience was working at McDonalds from 17-21 complementing an apprenticeship along side my college course. I thought a degree was enough to show I was able to do an entry level admin jobs, but sadly not.

The many memes about ‘entry-level job description’

I did ended up getting a job at a bank call centre. The job description did not reflect the actual role, the description was for a dynamic, exciting job which huge verity, what I did was hugely different, mainly I got shouted at down the phone by customers and bank staff, the training was abysmal and I did not have all the answers that were expected of me by customers. I earned around £8.50 p/h which was a fair amount in 2015, but not enough to deal with the shit that was thrown at you. I eventually left the job after 3 months due to mental health issues caused by stress from the role, poor training, managers and team members where the catalyst for these breakdown, like in many workplaces. Due to this set back I took a month off as it was around Christmas time, it was nice to be at home, took care of myself and thought about what I was going to do next.

Both my parents have done master’s degrees (my dad has 3) I had not thought about it before, but the government was planning on bringing in funding, like undergraduate loans. I thought doing a master’s degree would help me get a better job or would boost my self-esteem at least and give me some time to do something that made me happy. I liked the idea of doing something that could broaden my skills to include graphic design.

I eventually found a degree in Visual Communication, which I began on September 2016, that luckily was local. I moved out of my parent’s house into a house share and began the next stage of my academic journey and hopefully will be able to progress my career. Throughout my degree which I chose to complete over 2 and a half year, I balanced three jobs as well as volunteering in the local museum later getting a zero-hour contract job which I thought was the start of a career, this was not the case as the organisation wanted to use the ‘Big Society’ ethos with jobs. I also completed internships with multiple companies, working within their marketing and design teams to gain the experience to hopefully get employment.

Over the summer of 2018, I started to apply for entry-level roles as Marketing assistants, Office Managers within Design agencies and Photography Assistant roles, thinking that I wound better set up now I had something that not many people my age would have an almost complete Masters degree. Alas my ideas where wrong, I was still regularly told that I did not have the appropriate experience to be able to do these entry-level jobs (the feedback was not constructive or useful when I ask for it) despite furthering my education and going out of my way to get multiple internships to up my skills and experience it appeared to not be enough.

Set backs like this do cause you to regularly wonder how you get the experience level they expect, if cannot get jobs that will give you the experience?

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