Why today's young graduates are my heroes

Posted August 30, 2010

Why today's young graduates are my heroes

I'm a baby boomer who returned to university in my late 40s. This gave me a unique insight into into the world of today’s graduate and I discovered that it’s much tougher than I could ever have imagined.

When I first graduated from university in Belfast in the early 80s I immediately headed to London, confident about finding employment and starting a new life in ‘the big smoke’. The economy here was flourishing and I landed myself a job straight away. Within a year I bought my own flat and found myself on the first rung of the booming housing market, more by chance than any great design. This generation of young graduates are leaving college burdened with debts, unable to afford their own place and facing a recession.

For me it was about working hard, proving myself over time and gradually moving up the management ladder. For the young graduates of today it’s about driving their career and doing everything they can to create their own work opportunities. I’d like to think that I had the same ‘can do’ attitude of today’s young graduates. But, for me, it was all about escaping the bleakness of my own political landscape rather than any truly entrepreneurial drive.  

Today’s young graduates are entering the toughest job market for decades and I’m totally bowled over by their positive attitude to finding work. They refuse to give in and if the opportunities are not there, then they simply invent their own.

Josh, a 22 year old landscape designer, who recently transformed my garden, is exactly what I’m talking about. Fresh from graduating from horticultural college, he was made redundant from his first job. Believing that he had been given responsibility early in his career but had not received the credit for his work, he decided to go it alone. When he worked on my garden he suffered a collapsed lung (from which he is now thankfully recovered) and cheerfully endured the coldest snap for 30 years during the project yet still finished on time and to budget. His perfectionism and sheer love of his profession totally bowled me over.

Simon studied journalism at the same college as me. During the course we became good friends, sharing an interest in designer fashion and pop divas. It was Simon who introduced me to the world of social networking and eventually cajoled me into joining Facebook. When he graduated, Simon turned the media job market on its head. Rather than waiting to be ‘discovered’, he immediately set about creating a presence by starting up his own fashion blog www.theverysimong.com . This has now built up a dedicated following and has been featured in prime media publications such as the Sunday Times.

What I admire about them both is their irrepressible work ethic and desire to succeed under their own steam. Compared to them I think I had an easy ride.

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