I’m a Journalism graduate from Sheffield, it is where I still live but it seems having a degree in Journalism these days in the North doesn’t mean all that much. Though having a degree in most subjects anywhere in the country doesn’t really mean as much as it used to. It isn’t just wannabe journalists like me that are finding it difficult at the moment though; the North is going through a struggle in all sectors for all ages. It is a struggle reminiscent of times gone by with Northern cities falling into ruin with more and more young and old out of work, numbers may have fallen slightly but it is still a difficult job market.
Being totally honest I hated university, I’ve always wanted to be a journalist but the course and the place I studied was horrible and I really didn’t enjoy my 3 years there. But I ploughed through and walked away with a degree regardless. I, like everyone else who ever graduates, was excited, happy and looking forward to the rest of my life with a job, money and all the other exciting things that come with being in your 20’s with a completed education – independence and some good achievements for my CV under my belt.
I knew I wouldn’t just walk straight into my dream job not many do but over a year after finishing university I’m still in this city with no job. I’ll admit I didn’t start looking until October after a long summer and a month travelling; I did what I wanted and then knuckled down into everyday life. Sheffield is not exactly the best place for a wannabe journalist, there isn’t many jobs or publications to work for here. So the plan became: save as much money as possible from any job I could get giving me the opportunity to move to London and try my luck at journalism.
Though even applying for admin and retail jobs I’ve hit a brick wall of rejection, which has shown me just how hard it is in all sectors. I constantly hear the comments of older generations telling us to stop being so lazy and get a job but they clearly don’t realise the difficulty of getting on that job ladder. Figures released recently showed unemployment is down slightly but it is still high at 7.8%, youth unemployment only fell slightly and long term unemployment, being out of work for over a year, has risen to a 17 year high. In Yorkshire, unemployment is only down a little though it’s still at 9% whereas in the North East unemployment is up now at 10.4%, the biggest number in the country. If you want any more proof that the North is struggling, the two areas doing the best unemployment wise are the South West and South East of England.
Trying to find internship is just as hard too; most are unpaid and in London for a start and in terms of trying to find one in Yorkshire I have tried everything bar taking residence in offices. A few months ago I went for an interview for an internship at a PR firm in Manchester, though far away and expensive for me personally it’s somewhere I really wanted to work and travel costs would have mainly been covered anyway. After what I thought was a successful interview with comments on my strong CV and my clear passion to work there I never heard anything back. I’m not saying I should have gotten the internship but at least an email to say I hadn’t got it and why would have been nice. To me and the ones hiring the more experience anyone has the better but when emails, phone calls and interviews are ignored how are we ever supposed to get anywhere?
The most disheartening thing for graduates and any jobseeker is the feeling of being ignored and wasting your time. Spending so long writing a good CV and cover letter or filling out application forms to not even get an email back even if unsuccessful is horrible. Companies are busy and get loads of applications for each position but surely it doesn’t take too long to send a quick email saying “Thanks for your application and sorry but you have been unsuccessful on this occasion.”
Lack of certain industries, empty high streets and less graduate schemes are all major problems in the North of England too. Take a look round Sheffield’s high street and you’ll see plenty of empty spaces making any retail job that does pop up hot property and very oversubscribed. Lack of creative industries such as media, art, fashion means moving to London is the only option for many but it is an oversubscribed job market there now and what about the people who have no money or chance of moving down South? How exactly are they meant to go about gaining a job in the area they are trained/educated in, companies need to realise the North has a lot to offer and if more businesses set up here they would have plenty of talent to choose from.
I know there are so many of you in the same position as me right now and I know it is one of the most frustrating things, feeling like the degree was worthless, putting our lives on hold until we find our dream job or the job that will do for now. I’m certainly not going to just give up writing when it is all I have ever wanted to do and the plan to move to London is still in place though so is the lack of money situation. The job market is tough not just for journalism grads but everyone, it is a disheartening time but all we can do is keep applying, keep practising our skills and developing new ideas to get noticed by potential employers.