Post-Graduate Stress Syndrome
In the past several years, it has become a common phenomenon for students to study a course they believe would lead them to a wonderful career, only to find out that once they graduated, it was very much unlike what they thought it should’ve gone. Students either find out that they had chosen the wrong course, or that their study is simply too niche to find a job and soon they find themselves inside a gap where of either choosing to continue their studies or work at a job they really didn’t think they would do.
This newly acquired status can have a deep downwards-spiraling effect on one’s mindset. In the past traditions would teach us that a perfect career would be to finish high school, then college before finding a job that is related to the study and finding a perfect partner to raise a family with. That was how people were taught and the main reason why we saw significance in studying, stability. Having studied a good course at an even better university meant that you were almost certain to live a healthy life and get what you wanted. Albeit, some concessions must be made depending on the effort put into achieving the best results.
However, conditions have changed over time and the requirements necessary to succeed in an already tight job market are no longer the same. The benchmark for minimum academic results has risen significantly. Now it’s not just necessary to have a degree, one must also graduate with top honors, preferably with a distinction. This is called academic inflation. The result of academic inflation is a rise of unemployment and an increase in cases of depression amongst recent graduates.
The average employment period on a first job after graduation is about 1.5 years. Short-term employment and a rapid change of jobs has become the new standard. Ambitious graduates are looking for areas to grow in rather than a stable income. Skills are much more highlighted because HR managers require them. The fear of being unqualified is strong amongst graduates and it’s not unreasonable. For every job there is, there are at least a hundred others looking for it. Even for simple jobs like waitressing there are a large number of applicants. To change jobs quickly also means to have very little job security. It means that employers prefer to hire temporary solutions and cheap hires rather than to recruit and train, which is the situation we are in at the moment.
So to delay or evade such insecurity, students look for simple alternatives, either to find a random job or to further their education. This has implications on several things. Increasingly the latter has become the more attractive option between the two because families are able to afford it with the help of government funding. However, the positive effect of a postgraduate study has become somewhat, arguable. Is it better to follow-up an undergraduate study with an advanced education or is it better to start working? Depending on the geography, one might be more appreciated that the other. Of course the optimal solution would be to work on the side, or at least have several internships under the belt. Then again, if things were optimal, unemployment wouldn’t be an issue.
And then there is another major issue: people. Over the years, students are taught by their family that a good education will get them a good job. Children often make the assumption that a good job also means a job that they like to do and one they dreamt to do. Unfortunately, as research has shown, most people end up not performing a job that they studied for. Many graduates end up doing something completely different because the sizeable entrance market for their targeted occupation is so narrow it is almost impossible to be accepted unless one is able to achieve remarkable results.
The problem here is that the mindset also leads to an elitist mentality. In Asian regions like Singapore and Hong Kong, long debates have been ongoing regarding their elitist and meritocratic society, the constant complaint that there are very few jobs available when many people are simply feeling too proud to perform jobs that are otherwise classified as indecent, like waste disposal or waitressing. The need to become unique and distinctive from others also means that graduates are refusing to accept anything less than a $20,000 pa job with a chance of promotions within the next year and hopefully it’s something worth working for.
Finally it’s the dream factor. Most people grow up with a dream or at least a certain idea of what they wish to do after they graduate. To settle for anything less, could have a mental implication that one would be giving up their dreams. However, seldom does a recent unemployed graduate think that their smaller jobs could lead to a better future.
Not having a guaranteed job after graduation is a horrible feeling. The daily scheduler is empty, there is very little to look forward to and all your attention is focused on a single thing. Some people turn to gaming, while others spend more time with their partners and end up living their lives for them. Not having your own plan and to-do list is very discouraging. Up until graduation, people are told what to do and they have had to do it and be graded for it and once the certificate is received, freedom is bestowed upon. No longer are students bound to obligations. The sudden freedom could create confusion and children have to be taught what to do in such cases. Unfortunately none of this ever happens.
Constantly looking for jobs can be a bore. For those who found a further education, it can be a blessing, but take it as only a short-term delay to a tiring job hunt. For the others who decide otherwise, it is suggested to find other activities to fill up that planner. This can be done by creating a short-term goal and achievement regime in which one can feel fulfilled doing it. Working out, studying short-courses with high credibility. Websites like Coursera could provide for such demand. Sports could be another alternative, but this will only take up a small portion of the calendar. Volunteering is also a very highly recommended option. Having future employees that think about more than just themselves could be very motivating. There are many other examples of things one can do while looking for jobs and it is very important to keep occupied because job hunting is tedious and takes a massive toll on one’s motivation and self-esteem. Therefore if you find yourself to be stuck in such situation, find a way out by doing. Get out there and most importantly, be open-minded to what you can do. Don’t restrict yourself just because you think you deserve better. Don’t limit yourself to staying in a rut because you’re unwilling to do something else. Every job will have skills to learn. Skill you can use for the next job. Maybe your dream job.