Leaving university, without ever having had a job?

(153 Posts)
VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 15:17:47

Just that really. What would you think of a person, generally and also from an employment point of view, if they had left university without ever having had a job?

My DD is currently in her second year of university, and I am really trying to persuade her to start looking for a summer job. She has reliably told me she will definitely get one this year, but she has said that for the past two years! She says she doesn't need to work as she wants to enjoy her time off doing the things she likes doing, and she insists she doesn't need the money (she receives a big maintenance loan from uni, that would last her over the summer). I know this is true, as she never asked me for any money last year. She earns money from selling clothes, but I keep on telling her that won't cut it on a CV if she has never held down an actual job.

Please give me your opinions and advice, I want her to see that I am not nagging her, just trying to help her in gaining experience which will help secure a full-time job after university.

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PopWentTheWeasel Tue 14-May-19 15:30:14

When I was an undergraduate I had a job in my 3rd year, in the field I was interested in working in. 5 years later I was the only one of my friends working in my preferred field. Having relevant work experience really helped at interview to show commitment.

My friend who graduated with me had no work experience at all. 18 months later she still didn't have a job.

As a recruiter, we work through applications for jobs by comparing them with the essential requirements (generally qualifications) and then, if there are still too many applications to interview them all, by the desirable criteria (generally experience). Last time I interviewed I had 125 applicants for 2 entry level posts. You do the maths.

Would a candidate with no prior work experience at all have got the job? No, she probably wouldn't have got an interview unless she had a declared disability (where we put forward to interview based on essential criteria alone).

VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 15:35:52

Thank you very much for your detailed response. Yes I don't think she realises quite how tough it is out there to get a job, I think she thinks she'll swan into one easily.

It's not even that she's lazy, she's so hard working, but I know that won't come across on a CV.

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Wormentrude Tue 14-May-19 15:46:23

I did just that in 2010 and I didn't find that my MA exactly opened a lot of doors... Work experience is hugely important. I eventually ended up as a Christmas temp in a shop, which I could have done without four years at university.

That being said, I now have a job that does require a degree, but also customer service experience - so it all worked out quite nicely for me in the end.

Aquamarine1029 Tue 14-May-19 15:46:25

Your daughter is making a rid for her own back. All potential employers will see is a person who is over-educated and under qualified. Real world working experience is critical.

Aquamarine1029 Tue 14-May-19 15:46:57


VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 15:49:51

Thank you for your responses, I will show these to her tonight!

Yes, she is getting a job whether she likes it or not. She keeps on saying she doesn’t know what she wants to do, but any experience is useful in my eyes.

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VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 15:54:30

Wormentrude, did employers specifically say it was due to your lack of experience? How many jobs did you apply for that were to do with your degree area? I know my DD will not want to do a Masters so it’s a job for her next July/September time. But she won’t be able to get one if she hasn’t had a job beforehand!!!

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Benes Tue 14-May-19 16:03:20

I work in HE and have detailed knowledge of the graduate labour market....a job and/or work experience is very important.

Graduate recruiters tell me they like to see work experience on the CV and do value those jobs that aren't related to their degree. They like the transferable skills students develop - even if they've just worked behind a bar or in a shop.

She should go an speak to her uni's careers service as they often have a wide range of jobs available for students.

Springisallaround Tue 14-May-19 16:09:09

I think you might want to distinguish between relevant work experience or an internship (paid) and a job you do for money such as a min wage job. Both can be valuable, and necessary, but I think employers will be more impressed by relevant (or even irrelevant if interesting) career related employability work- such as having done an industry placement, a short internship in a similar field, voluntary work.

I'm sure they value work ethic and working in the local supermarket shows that, but if she does not need a lot of money and is managing fine, I'd suggest she contacts the careers service, start going to lots of talks on what she'd like to do next, and secure some type of internship or work experience for the summer and in her third year. I have quite a few students who ended up working for big organizations like the Big Four consultancy companies or Bloomberg as they did internships there which were treated like trial interviews.

VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 16:14:38

She HAS applied for a placement in an industry closely connected with her degree, as I said, she doesn't know what she wants to do, but even she sees that it would be valuable experience. Fingers crossed she gets it as I know that would look good on her (empty) CV. Think we find out in another 4 weeks.

Springisallaround, so do you not think that its not a disaster that she hasn't had a min. wage job then? Better to wait and seek out relevant work?

Thank you for the advice re. uni career services. I'll encourage her to go along. I think she has an appointment booked anyway if I remember rightly , but I will encourage her to ask about internships etc.

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AnyoneButAnton Tue 14-May-19 16:20:01

I’ve done a lot of interviewing of graduates and yes, if I have more suitable candidates than I can interview then I do filter based on whether they’ve ever held down a job. Office work preferred, especially if relevant to my profession, but retail or bar staff would be better than nothing.

Aquamarine1029 Tue 14-May-19 16:25:03

I would NOT have her wait for relevant work. Any job can offer good experience and shows your willingness to work and gain experience. It's always easier to find another job when you have a job.

VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 16:25:30

Sorry for asking another question, but I know she has friends who have had countless jobs since 15 in their holidays. As my DD will only be getting a job this summer and having 4months only of experience, again, does this put people off? Do you think she will be asked in interview why she did not get a job beforehand?

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Aquamarine1029 Tue 14-May-19 16:27:46

She might very well be asked. It's a relevant question and one I have asked while conducting an interview. The answers I received were not impressive, I might add.

VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 16:30:52

shock what were some of the answers? Was it just 'I couldn't be bothered etc..'?

One of my DD's friends is in a similar position to hers, no job, limited experience. She told DD that she was going to fabricate experience on her CV. Fortunately, my DD was shocked and tried to discourage her...I wonder when the time comes whether she will be questioned and found out, as it is certainly unfair.

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Springisallaround Tue 14-May-19 16:32:43

VerenaR no I don't think it makes any difference. I'm not sure that stacking your CV with min wage jobs really helps- what you need to do is illustrate your skills and responsibilities for things you've done, and show how you changed things for the better (e.g. say you took on being head of a society at uni and doubled membership). Similarly, I don't think working in MacDonald's alone would clinch you a job in the best graduate entry scheme, but if you can show what you improved, that you got promoted etc then it is an illustration of what you can do. If she had nothing on her CV then I'd worry. If she has lots of clubs, societies, volunteering, showing her leadership and social skills and no min wage, I think it's less of an issue. Just my opinion going on which of my students do well in grad entry schemes/next jobs.

Springisallaround Tue 14-May-19 16:33:29

If she's asked why she didn't get a job, she should explain she did work, selling clothes to make a profit!

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Tue 14-May-19 16:35:12

Ds1 didn’t have a job at any point during university, other than a few days casual labouring for a friend.

He got a job immediately after graduating with a degree in Law, as a quantity surveyor. His employers didn’t seem to have any qualms about taking him onto their graduate scheme, and he has flourished there - he has had pay rises, and is in line for promotion.

Ds2 did some casual labouring during his degree, and worked in his student union shop for a while, but other than that, he didn’t work either. He graduated and did his teaching qualification, had no problems getting a place for his NQT year, and has been given a permanent contract.

Neither of them seem to have suffered because they didn’t work during their degrees.

Ds3 has worked quite a lot, during his degree (as a waiter) - partly because it enabled him to stay in his university city over the summer, and partly because he wanted to be able to fund the occasional holiday or festival. He doesn’t graduate until next summer, so time will tell, whether having work on his CV will prove beneficial.

VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 16:36:41

She is part of a uni sport society, and an arty society. No head of committees or anything, just organises a few social events from time to time and gallery exhibitions at the uni. In Sixth Form, she helped teach younger students and tutored them in English, and more practically, in Art. As that was back in Sixth Form, do you think that is still relevant experience now? Or not worth putting on?

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Aquamarine1029 Tue 14-May-19 16:38:20

I heard everything from wanting to travel rather than work, spending the summer at the family's second home, and my favourite was a girl who said she didn't want to give up being in her recreational dance troupe. hmm

I'll be honest, their answers smacked of entitlement to me. Somehow they deserved all the fun things in life without having to earn them.

VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 16:39:31

Yes, to be fair my DD has done v.well with eBay. In Summer and her Winter holidays it is a full-time venture. To illustrate,s she has made 10K+ since 2013...I'm just very unsure if employers would accept that as a 'real' job and relevant experience.
I don't want my DD to be at a disadvantage after all her hard work

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cosytoaster Tue 14-May-19 16:42:39

I suppose it depends how on whether there is a dearth of candidates with her degree.
I used to be involved in recruitment for non graduate jobs that a lot of graduates applied for and definitely wouldn't have been interested in a candidate who'd never worked. Even a basic minimum wage job shows that the person 'gets' the world of work - timekeeping, following rules, dealing with difficult customers or situations etc. - and isn't going to be difficult to manage

VerenaR Tue 14-May-19 16:43:00

Aquamarine, yes my DD hasn't travelled, she's only been to France once about 15 years ago, and she certainly doesn't have a second home abroad. She is not an entitled girl, but I am so, so worried that in interview with the empty CV that she will come across that way, despite being very far from the truth.

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Parsley65 Tue 14-May-19 16:49:56


My DS is just finishing his first year at uni. Last summer we told him to get a summer job to help out with finances and so he wasn't spending long hours horizontal...

He really struggled to get anything - even got turned down at McDonalds, which surprised us. He did have an interview at a local pub, but they didn't get back to him and when chased, said he hadn't got any experience.

Not surprisingly this summer he wasn't keen to repeat that humiliation, so when his tutor mentioned getting experience he applied instead to a big company near us that would be very relevant to his degree. He made it quite clear that he wasn't expecting payment, just work shadowing and they have offered him 4 weeks grin

Good luck! I think you should definitely mention the tutoring, but get her to try for something else too. It's a tough market out there.

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