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Venting - my honours degree seems worthless

(89 Posts)
ParsleyCake Sat 03-Oct-15 17:14:54

I got an honours degree in Classics and now I feel like I wasted my time as I can't find a job. It seems unless you want to work in admin or for some supermarket chain there's nothing.

You might think I should have thought about this before I chose to study classics but I was originally studying something else and was persuaded not to drop out when I was failing miserably and instead study something I had a passion for. I chose Classics as if interested me more than history (Classics being the study of the Greeks and Romans, including the Latin language, ancient writings and plays and general history). So basically it was a degree in Classics or nothing.

I studied so hard and got an average grade which was more than I expected and I was so proud. I decided I wanted to work in archiving and applied for an intern type job at a local council archive. I'm a hard working person and I get on well with people and even have experience from volunteering in those archives, but I didn't even get an interview. I know my CV and cover letter were fine so I don't know why I didn't even get an interview.

It's been months since I graduated and this has been the only job I have been able to seriously apply for. Not only because it is in my area of interest, but simply because on all the job websites, it was the only things I felt qualified for. I already spent years working as a cleaner and in cafes and shops, surely I should be able to get better work now that I have a degree? And by better I mean with better opportunities. In those crappy jobs it's not worth working your way up. You get to earn 8p more per hour for being a supervisor rather than a cleaner/waiter/shop assistant in some places, and that just isn't worth it.

Why did no one tell me that university was a useless waste of money? I've got student loans to pay off and my life feels stagnant and miserable at times. Where are all the job opportunities I was promised?

noisytoys Sat 03-Oct-15 17:18:58

Where do you want to work and what skills and experience do you need to get there in addition to your degree? There are a lot of people with degree all applying for the same jobs it's tough to get a break.

CocktailQueen Sat 03-Oct-15 17:22:06

Congrats on your degree.

A degree in something like Classics is not a vocational degree - it's not like a PGCE, which means you can teach - it just shows you can study.

Humanities/arts degrees are different to, say, accountancy degrees, which open the door to potentially well-paid jobs.

What do you want to do? Where do you want to work? Where have you tried looking for jobs? What did your university careers guidance say to you?

ParsleyCake Sat 03-Oct-15 17:29:06

I want do to anything, anything I can get which isn't a dead end minimum wage job. Most of all I want a career in archiving, or anything to do with history. I'm shy and not great at public speaking, so nothing involving that.

I've mainly been looking for jobs on and the job centre website.

SirChenjin Sat 03-Oct-15 17:29:18

Firstly - well done on getting your degree smile

Cocktail is correct though - a classics degree is not vocational, so although you've been volunteering as an archivist, you'll no doubt know that you really need a PG qualification in this subject - and there are many people with this qualification chasing very few archivist jobs. I really think you need to consider adding to your degree. Decide what it is you want to do and then build towards that in the form of a vocational PG diploma or Masters.

SirChenjin Sat 03-Oct-15 17:33:12

This site gives you more information about becoming an archivist

madwomanbackintheattic Sat 03-Oct-15 17:34:46

I'm 44 and still working crappy jobs not using my arts degree. I got a first.
Library/ Archive jobs round here involve a specialized Masters, no hope at all without one.
Even my lovely dh and friends all sing the Avenue Q song at me with great glee, from the safety of their vocational towers...
Um, good luck? Just wanted to say I share your pain, really!

ParsleyCake Sat 03-Oct-15 17:38:23

Thanks. So my degree is worthless on its own basically? There's no decent job I can get without getting into substantial debt doing a postgrad degree?

Uni was awful for me. I really struggled and I dont think i could do it again, even if I could afford it.

NotDavidTennant Sat 03-Oct-15 17:38:50

I doubt many archiving jobs turn up on the Job Centre website. You need to be proactive in identifying potential employers who have the kind of jobs you're after and approaching them to see if they have any vacancies, or at least work experience opportunities.

thesandwich Sat 03-Oct-15 17:40:25

Can your uni careers service help you? A good place to seek help- where do others with your degree go?

poocatcherchampion Sat 03-Oct-15 17:43:33

I would look at the guardian website as thry have lots of decent opportunities

cashewnutty Sat 03-Oct-15 17:43:38

It is without doubt, difficult to get a job after graduating. It is not impossible however. Sign up to every job search website that you can. Apply for all and any jobs that you might be remotely interested in/qualified for. Are you stuck to a particular area? The south (London and surrounding areas) have most job opportunities. If my DD can get a job after graduating in Theology, you can get one with a degree in Classics!

camtt Sat 03-Oct-15 17:44:08

If you're near a university, why not look on their website and see if there are any admin jobs going in faculties that interest you, or their libraries. You could get some more work experience, get to know people who might be able to help you into your chosen field and when the dream job comes up, although your day to day work may have been outside that field you can write on your covering letter about having chosen the work place so that you could stay in touch with the relevant area you were really interested in.

Coffeethrowtrampbitch Sat 03-Oct-15 17:47:58

Could you do a course to teach secondary? My English teacher had a degree in Classics and it was brilliant for a lot of classic novels as she had lots of facts about the period which really put the novel into context.

I really sympathise, I've got an English degree and found it hard to get work when I graduated. As has been said they are not vocational degrees and it can be hard to get employment.

I ended up working for an investment bank and got subsequent jobs based on my experience there, so I don't think my degree has been relevant to anything work wise. I am now a sahm so I suppose there's still time smile.

IrenetheQuaint Sat 03-Oct-15 17:48:55

I read Classics; I've never used it per se but find employers are impressed by it (possibly unfairly, but hey). So don't give up hope.

As previous posters have said, you won't get a proper archivist job without a masters, but a degree helps with lots of other entry level jobs. Can you try to get an admin job in an organisation that interests you and try to work up from there, with the aim of doing a masters in due course?

Floralnomad Sat 03-Oct-15 17:50:29

Have you considered teaching ,you don't have to go back to uni you can do more 'on the job' training with local providers either salaried or with a bursary if you have a relevant / good enough degree .

3littlefrogs Sat 03-Oct-15 17:52:14

Register with a few employment agencies.
You will always get work and meet people/employers.
You never know where it might lead and it is better than sitting at home getting discouraged.

DS2 is currently doing several part time jobs - he started doing a labouring job for one company, but the boss has quickly spotted his potential and is finding him much more interesting stuff to do. He is willing, cheerful, intelligent and hard working and I think he will at least be in the running for opportunities just by being around potential employers.

He spent quite a few months sitting at home feeling down and frustrated - in the end I told him he had to get any job because I am not prepared to support him indefinitely.

Opportunities don't come to your door - you have to go out and find them.

iwouldgoouttonight Sat 03-Oct-15 17:53:38

I agree with PPs about contacting local universities and looking in the Guardian, I think they'd be more likely to have jobs in your field than the job centre. Is there an industry magazine or recruitment agency? Eg I work in design and have looked for jobs in the past through Creative Review.

Could you contact local galleries/museums to see if they have any positions. Even if it's not doing exactly what you want, you'd at least be in the right area and could then maybe move sideways to a more suitable job once you had your foot in the door.

I sympathise, it is hard going finding work as a graduate. I worked for free for a year to get experience (I was lucky I could live with my parents at the time, I realise this isn't a feasible option for many) and then got an admin job at a design agency, and once I'd proved myself moved into the design side of things.

cashewnutty Sat 03-Oct-15 17:54:29

This website has lots of interesting job opportunities.

Reed is also good.

GreenbackBoogie Sat 03-Oct-15 17:54:49

You have a degree. You don't say from which university. You say an average degree so I am guessing an lower second class. There are thousands of graduates each year and plenty from the preceding years who will all be chasing the same jobs as you. You sound as if you think the world owes you a living because you have a degree. You say you've only seriously applied for one job. If you have only applied for one job it is obvious why you aren't employed. If you have made any other applications but half heatedly that probably is evident to those considering your application. You also say your CV is fine although you then outline a host of non-skilled jobs you have held in the past. One internship does not a CV make. Right enough of pointing out the obvious- you need to build a CV that screams out "pick me for interview". You need voluntary experience if you can't get paid experience. You may (like thousands of others) have to work in an unskilled job to support yourself while doing this. You should consider what other graduates who have classic degrees have gone on to do. You need to work out what experience you need and then plan how to get it. If there's no hope of your dream job then maybe shift your goals. There are tonnes of graduate training schemes that take people with degrees in any subjects. When I was at uni I had an eye to my chosen career and worked every holiday for free to get experience. You'll be up against candidates like that who have demonstrated a real passion for their chosen career path. You can turn this around but you need the right attitude. Good luck.

LIZS Sat 03-Oct-15 17:55:44

Of course it isn't worthless but you are being unrealistic to expect it to be a passport to your ideal job. Have you, for example, volunteered in a museum, library or with an organisation such as NT? Some libraries have local history corners which are run by volunteers. It is much easier to find work if you are already working and need to think beyond the literal to apply the skills and self discipline the degree course has given you , and your previous experience, on a job application. Don't do yourself down by only applying for those for which you feel qualified.

SirChenjin Sat 03-Oct-15 18:01:07

So my degree is worthless on its own basically? There's no decent job I can get without getting into substantial debt doing a postgrad degree?

Not as an archivist, no - sadly. It is a hugely competitive field with people who have put themselves through uni at PG level and further debt. I would imagine that you didn't get an interview because they were looking for either a qualification in archiving or significant experience working in that field?

I really don't want to sound harsh because you do sound really low - but you may have to rethink that career path. There are lots of really good suggestions on here from PPs, so maybe something will inspire you?

SirChenjin Sat 03-Oct-15 18:03:48

Just to add - libraries and archive work are both very competitive fields with more graduates being churned out than are jobs. Certainly look at volunteering more than you have already, and then I would suggest trying to get in at library assistant or archivist assistant level - but to become a librarian or archivist you do need a qualification in that field.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 03-Oct-15 18:04:50

I found this with my first degree. Most shop workers, call centre workers, etc have degrees.

I went back to uni to do midwifery. The cleaners on our ward have degrees.

My brother has a masters in history and works in a cafe.

I tell dd to do some sort of vocational degree.

I don't know what to advise really. So many people in the same boat. How about graduate schemes for some of the big businesses?

Salmiak Sat 03-Oct-15 18:09:20

I have a degree in classics, couldn't get a job in it so started temping many years ago. I got a temping assignment at the nhs, led to a proper job and climbed the pay scales till I had my 2 dc and became a sahm. My degree didn't lead to a position in the British museum (as I'd naively envisaged when I started the course at 18), however I loved my job in admin and enjoyed becoming a manager with the nhs.

Am I where I pictured myself at 18? No. However I did find a job I enjoyed. My friends from uni now work in varied roles - archeologist, English heritage, for an insurance company, as an editor, council planning department to name a few

I think you need to broaden your search,

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