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University Graduates: The Degree of Discouragement

hiring a graduate, graduate recruitment, internshipsI’m graduating soon.

My family and friends assume that I must be so excited to finally graduate and to step out into the real world.

But I’m not. I used to be. But now I’m seriously worried.

Of course I’ve prepared in advance. I’ve scoured through hundreds of online job postings and newspaper advertisements; I’ve asked around; brushed up my résumé; signed up for graduate program newsletters; applied for internships, mentor programs and countless jobs.

OK so I did score an awesome internship 🙂

But there’s just one major problem. The majority of entry level and graduate job postings frequently scream two bolded and disheartening words: Experience Essential”.

How are we supposed to get the experience required if no one is willing to give us the chance?

What frustrates me even more is when the job description states ‘This is a junior role for someone with a minimum of 2 years experience in a similar role‘.

If we’re ‘juniors’, how on earth are we supposed to gain the required two years experience when every other job posting says exactly the same thing?

Another thing which confuses me is when the job posting states that experience is essential, but the list of benefits for working for the organisation includes ‘extensive employee training’. (I’ve often applied anyway hoping to get lucky, but to no avail).

To my potential first employer … if you’re going to extensively train me anyway, why not just give me a chance? I’m a hard-working, creative, determined team player and I am willing to work extremely hard. I know that any candidate could just write that and you want actual evidence that I’ll be able to successfully contribute to the role. But I’m willing to prove that to you.

I completely understand that I may not have much experience in your field so you may not believe that I actually do possess the ‘excellent written communication skills’ you require. But I can show you several reports and major assignments I’ve written throughout my university course.

You may not trust that I really am the ‘creative person and team player’ that you need. Let me showcase the marketing posters, plans and research projects I’ve worked on (including one which was recently nominated as a competition finalist).

On top of this, I’ve also done other professional-style presentations and pitches.

Just because I might not have had a chance to gain the work experience required, this certainly doesn’t mean I am not employable.

After being defeated by this vicious cycle for too long, I’ve even tried broadening my job search. I realised that the more flexible I am, the more opportunities there could be to work with different departments and eventually score a permanent role in a company.

I’ve applied for telemarketing, receptionist and administrative roles hoping to simply get my foot in the door. But even these job postings are emblazoned with the disheartening words “Experience Essential” (and, let me tell you seeing these words is not a fun experience).

I’ve asked around and my friends who are also graduating soon are all facing the same problem.

Leaving university and trying to figure out which career path to pursue is daunting enough, but now we’re all left fretting over everyone else’s experience level. Apparently everyone with more work experience than us will perform better on the job.

Is this actually true? Has every single employee you’ve hired with previous experience actually been as incredible as you expected?

After talking to many of my fellow discouraged graduate-to-be friends, it appears that no one is taking any risks recruiting graduates without experience. But why? Some of us do have other sought after skills and can demonstrate this, plus we have an appetite for challenge and have pretty realistic salary expectations because we’re just grateful to finally get our foot in the door!

Hiring a graduate with little or no experience isn’t a reckless decision.

You still have the power over my work performance.  I may have little or no proven work experience but this is actually what gives you the power and opportunity to train me and tell me exactly how you expect the job to be done.

Why not take a risk? The next graduate with little experience could potentially astound you and be moulded into your organisation’s next best employee.


Milica Djukanovic is an awesome intern working with RecruitLoop on marketing and community management. She graduates from University of Technology Sydney at the end of 2013.


I am currently an intern with RecruitLoop. I am also studying my Bachelor of Business, double-majoring in Marketing and HR Management at UTS.

  • Mona

    Great article! Thanks for sharing and good luck with your internship! Recruiters should not forget that skills (hence experience) can be learned but “cultural fit” overrules it any time @monaberberich