Thursday, March 7

do we need degrees?

This month I turn 19, but not only does this mark my last year as a teenager, I hoped I'd find a job and career I absolutely loved.

Whilst completing my A Levels last year (which I hated every minute of), I had a part time job at a children's shop. Two months later, I helped open their second store and became Store Manager by default. It then became my full time career. After a year there however, the pressure piled up and up and up. No disrespect to her, but my boss was constantly messaging me on Facebook at the weekends, days off and evenings and I never got a break! I was doing so much from managing the shop, customers, orders, website, stock control, shoe fitting, staff training, deliveries and more. The pay I was receiving just didn't justify the amount of work I was putting in. It got out of control when I was told by a doctor I had eczema due to stress.

I could have stayed there and stuck it out until I found another job, but I was just so unhappy. With the support from my mum, we decided I took a short career break to find something else and in the meanwhile, I've been working on my own business and finding another job.

It is proving much more difficult than I thought though. 

Over the past month, I've applied for tons of jobs, been for 5 interviews and offered 2 roles which I declined because they weren't quite right. The interview I went for yesterday was for a job I was so excited about. It was working as a booking co-ordinator in a college alongside the beauty salon, meaning I did all the behind the scenes business stuff in a sector I loved. The interview went great, I even did a 10 minute presentation on how to promote their salon however, I didn't get the job.

Why? Because apparently I didn't have the relevant qualifications or training, despite there being none desired in the personal specification.



This got me really thinking. Do people like me; who don't want to continue in education, have a passion and strive for business, are well-motivated and ideal for a role, still need a degree or higher qualification? I asked what specific one was needed, and she replied "maybe customer service". Erm, I've just done two years in retail and a year as a manger, is that not good enough experience? Do I really need to sit in a classroom and be taught how to deliver customer service? 

If they didn't think I was right for the role than that is absolutely fine, however I am not fine in feeling put down about the fact I don't have a further qualification, because I genuinely thought I was ideal for the role. The employer also told me I was "brave" in what I was trying to do, but why?! Don't get me wrong, my closest friends have all gone to University and I support them with that decision (especially if you are training for doctor, teacher etc), but why can't more employers support young people? I just want to do well with experience behind me, instead of a degree which cost me £30 - £50k debt. The worst thing is, people finish these degrees every year and aren't guaranteed a job either!

I don't think anyone has the right answers or advise to give to young people like me, however I definitely think I am an employable person and I'm not giving up. I did get offered roles within marketing and events (I only declined because I wasn't happy with the commission based salary!) so I know it's possible.

Today, I'm visiting a 'Job Fair' which covers all areas of Bournemouth and Poole in the hope I might meet someone, get some advise or even some inspiration. I'm still applying for jobs and waiting to hear back, but it really is quite hard. I'm so motivated and ready to start my career, I just need someone to see that and give me a chance.

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36 comments

  1. I'm crossing my fingers for you that you'll find something you really feel is right for you and that you're perfect for - I'm sure it will happen. I don't understand the pressure on people to have degrees, they seem so pointless for the majority of jobs, and so many graduates are finding they can't get jobs due to not having enough experience - but how can they get any if they aren't given a job? It's a horrid situation.

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    1. thanks charlotte, it really is a difficult time. The balance between a degree and experience is a thin line, I feel like I'm facing a loosing battle sometimes! I will be sure to keep you updated, it just might take longer than I thought x

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  2. This was a fantastic post and I feel for you not getting the job, I can imagine the frustration! Coming from somebody who is currently doing a degree I'd say that you'd be in a better position for the job than somebody with a 'customer services' degree because you have real life hands on experience, not written a couple of essays on the topic for a degree! You're brimming with business experience and skills, take The Beauty Closet for example! And you can tell from your YT vids that you're a confident young lady with your head screwed on; you don't behave like 'a kid'. You deserve a well paid job in a position you love and any company would be happy to have you!

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    1. I just read that back, very rambley! haha! but try to keep your head up, the right time WILL come - you're more than suitable for the role you want! x

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    2. thank you hannah! I really value your opinion and I agree, I personally think I have the skills and experience for the right kind of job, its just about finding it! Thank you so much! x

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  3. Good luck with finding a job! I dont plan to do a degree because of the debt but when employers make up excuses that you need one it must be annoying!

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    1. thanks Beth! I know, it's rather frustrating! x

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  4. I hope you find something soon! It's the most frustrating thing ever knowing that you can do a job but them having excuses for not hiring you.
    I really regret doing my degree. I hated it and have left resenting photography as a career and infact looking to do other things completely unrelated.

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    1. Thanks Laura, you are not alone in completing a degree and having a change in heart, I know lots of people who have done the same! I'm glad I can learn from people like you but like you said, it is hard! x

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    2. Yeah! I'm just glad it was only a two year degree and I did learn skills such as invoicing and business aspects that I can take anywhere. x

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  5. Having got a degree (and I only went to university because my parents expected me to), I will say that the same challenges are there as you're facing. Being a graduate doesn't necessarily give you the experience these companies are looking for. Where does this leave us then? I'm going through a similar thing as we talked about so I know how it feels - don't give up Brogan. I'm going gun ho with all the job applications too. Keep following your ambitions! x

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    1. exactly! I couldn't agree more. I am facing a loosing battle but just need someone to give me a break. They're so tedious so I feel your pain! Thanks for the support Tamsin, I really appreciate it :) xx

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  6. Fingers crossed for you! I can totally understand your problem. Nowadays, even here in Hungary we have this problem that I can't understand. The funny thing is that there are hunderds of unemployed people with degrees !
    I am currently a sophomore university sutdent therefore I can only work 20 hours a week. When I got my job as a receptionist, I was hired for 2 nights a week. And of course since then I have never worked only 16 hours a week.... First I worked 3 nights/week next to uni, then it changed to 1 day and 2 nights shifts. Right now I am on a 1 day and 1 night schedule because I have so many lessons at uni that I can't take more.
    And after 6 months, they say it is not enough, it is just a "hobby" for me (of course my dept and the fact that I pay everything for myself and I even give money to my mom doesn't really matter). So they hired a new girl for 3 days a week, and they prefer to work with their own people/friends instead of me who has almost a year long experience in this industry. (By the way I am studying tourism and it is an apartment hotel and I am so much cheaper for them than a regular employee).
    So well, adult life is hard and we have to win our own battles... I am really hoping that you will find your place :)

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    1. thank you hun! I know it's such a shame! I loved reading your story and couldn't agree more, the right thing will come my way xx

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  7. I can really relate! I did my AS levels but became seriously stressed and nearly depressed so after lots and lots of debating and trying new things I quit college, I've been working since I was 13 I love working and I have so much experience and I want to start thinking about my career. Im just so worried that because I didnt go to university employers won't except it. As much as I wanted to finish education it just wasnt right for me, I wish employers supported this and supported how young people have different lifestyles and choices. I may do a blog post to support this one?! I hope you find the perfect job!

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    1. I too have been working since I was 14 so I know how you feel. I agree, I knew I wanted to work whilst doing my A Levels and although I was lucky to have a good job, I really would like to start my career. Yes please do, I would love to read it! x

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  8. Good luck with the job! I'm currently in my last year of uni (BA)and have always thought I would get my MA degree as well, but I just don't think it's worth spending extra two years on it anymore. I have a feeling I won't get a job either way. Being a student of English in my country, my options are quite limited. Most of my schoolmates want to be teachers, but I know this is not for me, so I'm thinking about moving to an English speaking country and get another (more useful) degree or at least some work experience. I'm so confused at the moment and have no idea what I am going to do after I graduate... Being an adult is hard. :D

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    1. It's really hard isnt it! Moving to an English speaking country is scary but really exciting, whatever you decide I hope it works out for you! Yes, being an adult is tough! x

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  9. This post is deffo something personal to me. For a year and a half i went to over 50 job interviews just to be told i had everything they wanted but just not a pesky silly little qualification or i didnt have enough higher quals (a levels didnt seem good enough) so each time i got rejected i felt more and more lost into the path i wanted so i took the chance of goin for my dream job in spa and do a degree whilst gettting the spa experience and money and i started in september :). Just dont give up something will just click one day. You seem a ambitious talented person who i think will go so far :) keep on going!!

    Love Emily xx

    love-x-beauty. blogspot.co.uk

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  10. This country is in a mess at the moment when it comes to young people's employment. As you say, having a degree doesn't mean you will get a job, but at the same time, it seems often you do need a degree simply to get an entry level job or internship. It's outrageous - spend £30k on an education only to work for free for years afterwards. Why do you need a degree in order to be 'allowed' to do work experience?! You should be able to do that as a school leaver! And a degree itself has become less valuable as anybody can get one - even people with Ds and Es at A Level!

    I see jobs offering minimum wage, yet the requirements are a degree and at least a few years experience. It's unfair for both the people with a degree and those without. As for me, I had trouble finding a job after graduating so I really had no other option but to become self employed. Not the way I ever saw my career panning out but that's what life has dealt and I've had to accept it!

    So it seems whether you have a degree or you don't, it's hard to secure a job. It's such a difficult climate and I don't know when/if it will get better. I wish you all the best in your search, hopefully something will come up. xxx

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    1. couldn't agree more!! I feel like I'm fighting a loosing battle, everything I've tried doesn't seem to be working! Thank you so much for this, it put another light into how I'm not alone in feeling this way. Thanks for your support Amy :) xx

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  11. It's so good you're still feeling motivated and aren't giving up! It might take time but the right job is definitely out there.
    I don't think having a degree is essential. I'm basically in the opposite position to you! I have a degree in graphic design, but all the jobs I'm applying to are turning me down because I don't have enough experience! It's a losing battle because I can't get experience if someone won't hire me for the same reason. I'm sure we'll both find jobs that we love soon Brogan, keep your chin up! :) xxx

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    1. there has been times I've felt very unmotivated but i'm quite a positive person so hopefully I stay like that! oh that must be so tough, I feel your pain!! Yes we definitely will, don't give up, you just need someone to see how skilled you are! xx

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  12. What a levels did you take?? :) xxxxx

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    1. I did geography AS, English Literature and Photography A Level xx

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  13. If you're still looking for jobs in events and things like that drop me an email. Creative Kids is a good Bournemouth based company looking to help young people interested in that sort of thing. Definitely worth checking out, Bournemouth has a surprising amount going on, I'm sure you'll find something!

    xox

    colours-and-curves.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. hey martha, yes I am! I'll send you an email and find out more! yeah it does have lots of opportunities so hopefully something will pop up! xx

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  14. Don't lose hope. I didn't go to university, i'm 34 now and just by persevering I have now got a job earning far more than my friends who went to university. I work for local government, and as long as I was prepared to start at the bottom and work my way up my lack of university degree didn't hinder me. The great thing is that my employer actually ended up paying for my higher education whilst I worked. I probably did better in higher education with a bit more maturity than I would have done at 18 - plus you have much more of an idea about what you want to do by then and can take a more relevant course.

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  15. Good luck finding work!
    It is tough. I didn't really want to go to University, and I'm luckily in a job I adore and is within my chosen career avenue at 21. However, if I want to move up the ladder any time soon, I'll need a degree. Most jobs I've been looking at wont even consider your application without a relevant degree.

    I do understand why, because from an employers point of view, experience can be exaggerated and 'experience' doesn't mean that you were good at your job. Not that a degree really proves that either I guess...

    I'm pretty bummed that I kinda HAVE to go to Uni, otherwise i'll be stuck here for YEARS until I have enough experience to rival someone with a degree.

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  16. This is such an interesting blog post, I never went to Uni either as basically everyone has degrees now and I think they are practically worthless. Like you said, not everyone with a degree is guaranteed a job, I have worked in boring dead end office jobs alongside people who have had law degrees. I think suitability for a job should be judged on whether you have the right mindset and are generally the right person for the job- just because someone has a degree doesn't mean they will actually be good at something or even have the common sense that on-the-job-experience can deliver!!
    Good luck with your job search x

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  17. I know exactely what your are talking about I am 27 and have always been a client officer (not complaining about my salary base)
    Today I am bored and know that I can do better but loads of doors are closed because I do not have a degree. But it doesnt mean we get to give up, let fight and fight hard !

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  18. Great post! I know what you mean. I went to university for 2 years (with a year off in between) and stopped because I didn't see how the courses I was taking was going to translate to a career. After finding something I liked, I took a one year diploma course and was able to get into the job track I like. The courses were very work specific so they were actually helpful as opposed to the more generic classes I was taking. However, I'm now back at Uni part time to complete a degree only because I don't want it to hold me back. I find that most people are more interested in work experience in education in my field but they still list university degree as a requirement.

    I'm not sure why a retail manager would be expected to have a degree though. Are there any local associations for Retail workers that offer day courses or diploma programs? They might not be terribly expensive and it would give you some formal training. Good luck with the job search!!

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  19. Hi great post and I think you've summed up perfectly how most young people feel at the moment. The way our country is going I don't think we can win either way! I went to university for a year and it was a complete scam even in 2010 before the fees increased - just institutions out to make money from us really! Having dropped out I'm now studying a course from home, I won't get a degree out of it but a qualification none the less and it will mean I can become self employed at the end... I really hope you find something soon I understand how frustrating it feels having degrees/ higher education thrown in your face when you haven't got one... I'm sure something will turn up for you soon
    Grace.

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  20. Hi. I´m a new reader and just started following you on hellocotton as well :) This blog entry has caught my attention as it is something I ask myself all the time. I decided after 4 years of studying in Uni I wasn´t going to push through with my dissertation and went on to work. Most of the time it hasn´t even been a hindrance. I always am honest from the start that I do not have a degree and I guess I have been lucky to get jobs. I don´t think a degree really comes to play all the time but there are moments when I kick myself for not finishing. I think what matters is how you feel about it - I am sure you can find a job without a degree and try not to let it get to you too much when things like this happen. I don´t think this is the norm anymore or the only thing that is always considered. There are a lot of people out there doing jobs that have nothing to do with what they studied.

    I hope that helps.

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  21. It is really frustrating how the world of jobs is set up. I'm in Uni now, but I really struggle with the way degree programs set up and I know that I am much more productive when I'm working than when I'm studying. I chose to get a degree anyway because I thought it would be too hard for me to find work without one. I hope that this isn't true for you and that you find a job that you love! I am a firm believer that there is way more value placed in degrees than there should e.

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  22. Hi! I just found your blog on HelloCotton. :) This was the first post I saw when I checked the Lifestyle section.

    I was born and raised in Manila, graduated there with a bachelor's degree and then moved to Singapore to pursue a master's degree. My parents believed that my degree will help me find a better and high paying job. But I had a hard time looking for jobs. When I finally did get one, it has nothing to do with what I've studied! I hate my job and I'm only sticking to it until I can find a better one.

    What I'm saying here is that I don't believe we need a degree to be successful. A degree can only give you a boost. Nowadays, it's hard work and experience that will get you to places.

    xo Kisty
    kisty.net

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