Catch 22 or the ‘In-between’?

First published 1st June 2010

In my opinion there are four types of students. The first will complete their degree while enjoying as many pints and as much pillow-time as possible in their precious three years of avoiding the real world, before looking for any job to fund their continued pretence of still being a student. Look in any McDonald’s for examples. The second will take their degrees a bit more seriously, swapping some time spent horizontally for vertically (or as near to vertically as slouched comes) in the library. This type of student will have all the good intentions of claiming a 2:1 and a career to match but doesn’t quite know how to go about it.

The third type is what I class myself as. This type aims for the best academically while trying to balance and establish their professional life at the same time. These are know as the ‘Catch 22’ or ‘In-between’students (by myself), and the names refer to the position students find themselves in during their time at university. Most know the industry they wish to work in and either go around in circles trying to find work to fill out their CV in preparation for graduating but are limited by their current lack of experience, or find themselves on a train of thought surrounding where they really are. Are they really a ‘true’ student? Or are they a professional in training? Both are true, and can work well together, but the ambition combined with a lacking CV can be quite disheartening at times.

It’s all very well being encouraged to take up work placements, but how many should we have on our CVs before we realise all of our bank balance has dried up on working with no income? During term time this isn’t so much of a problem, but come the long summer months I feel I should be saving up the pennies and finding a way to pay the rent too. This could be done by taking on the persona of student type #1 and flipping burgers for a few months, but some industry-related work is really what I’m striving for. As much as recruitment companies offering student advice may tell you that cash handling and stock taking are valuable factors to have on your CV, working directly in the industry you picture yourself in in a year’s time must be a damn sight better and give future employers something to go on.

At the moment I’m working on two tactics surrounding this.The first is to apply for jobs that don’t necessarily exist, and the second is an option I’ve always considered in the back of my mind: go freelance. While both applying for jobs and exploring my interest in social media I seem to have accidentally invented a brand for myself, so now I’m building on that. The @lauramsmith brand is an event organising, social media enthusing, blogging, writing extraordinaire. It has to be said, it’s a lot of fun and really motivating, if a little difficult to see how it could earn me any money, but for now it’s keeping me busy and giving me networking opportunities, so one day, who knows?

Oh and as for the fourth type of student? They’re just the lucky sods that fall into the first job they apply for after effortlessly getting a first for every assignment. But the fun is in trying, right?


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