Confessions of a terrified journalism graduate

Thirty per cent of university graduates are failing to land jobs within four months of completing their degrees

It’s common knowledge that most university students approaching the end of their degree are gearing up to cheerfully wave goodbye to assignments and exams. I, on the other hand, am slightly terrified of this prospect.  

Though I can sense that my feelings of excitement are on a desperate journey to cease the depths of my crippling anxiety, this all-consuming pessimistic frame of mind is mixing the hue needed to perfect the dark cloud of doom that is looming above my head.

As I sit here trying not to cave into the comfort of procrastination, I find myself wondering if there’s anybody out there that’s experiencing the same exhausting confusion as I am.

Much to my bemusement, findings from our recent D*Scribe survey revealed there were graduate students who wish they had approached their studies differently.

Question three: what’s something you wish you had of done differently during your studies?

“Studied more.” 

“Worried less about readings.”

 “Saved more money before studying.”

“Looked at the possibility of volunteer work in my field or had the opportunity for placement.”

For almost three years I’ve spent the better half of lectures daydreaming of the finish line and now, that it’s here, I am too terror-stricken to run through it.   

While adjectives such as ‘terrified’ may seem dramatic, let me remind you that according to last year’s Graduate Outcomes Survey, 15 per cent of undergraduate students were still unemployed four years after leaving university. What sounds and looks like a small statistic has the unyielding capacity to fuel fear – for me, a fear that I’ll be a lonely nobody in the tertiary-educated unemployed pack.   

Such data prompts more irrational thinking.

Perhaps I should’ve studied harder in Year 12, because with an ATAR higher than 82.30 and an offer to study medicine, I could’ve been one of the 95.9 per cent of students who graduated and secured full-time work in 2017. Instead, after not one but two gap years, I chose to study the ‘dying field’ of communications, a cohort that sends only 60.6 percent of its graduates into full-time employment, the third least employment successful study area to science/mathematics and psychology.

Image sourced from 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey

My slightly overdramatic whinging is leading to a downward spiral in confidence, causing me to believe that maybe I’m just not ready to transition from university to the workforce.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by online employment organisation JobGetter, a mere 37 per cent of university students believed their academic work would provide them with the skill set to land their desired job.

It’s nice to know I’m not alone, however it’s also slightly concerning that so many students are having these rather bleak outlooks on life after uni.

In a web article published by The Australian in October 2017, JobGetter director Fiona Anson noted the key finding from the survey revealed institutions and industry must work closer together to ensure students are being equipped with the knowledge and skills essential to impressing potential employers.

A great idea, sure, but unfortunately with the number of journalists in newsrooms dwindling along with print sales, it’s questionable whether media companies, particularly local news corporations, have the time, money or resources to facilitate such relationships.

Here we are faced with yet another hard-hitting reality – today’s media must invest in tomorrow’s aspiring journalist. Why? Because without professionally trained, exceptionally skilled and ethically responsible journos, society becomes vulnerable to interpreting citizen journalism as genuine journalism.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t stray away from marching to the beat of my own drum; but even I’m not naive enough to believe that a 22-year-old graduate journalist has the ability to be informed about every occurrence around the globe. While it’s an asset to have Geelong’s average Joe sending in tips and pictures to your desk from the other side of the world, it’s a catastrophe when that same average Joe takes it upon themselves to report the news – unqualified + inexperienced = a recipe for disaster.

To avoid such drama, one must study journalism and, since I began doing so, I can’t count on my two hands how many times I’ve been asked questions like these… 

‘Journalism? Really? Are there any jobs out there?’

‘Journalists don’t make a lot of money, do they?’

‘Do you actually need a degree to practice journalism?’

In fact, my beloved godfather is so worried I won’t get a job, he frequently goes out of his way to talk to people in the industry for reassurance. He also doesn’t mind leaving me voicemails about it.

It’s as if the universe is trying to tell me something but quite frankly, I don’t want to hear it. At the end of the day, all I want is a bloody job!



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Hannah is a graduate year journalist who enjoys writing using an array of storytelling methods. Her experiences interning at local magazines in the Geelong area have inspired Hannah to continue working in print media. With her interests ranging from art, literature and fashion to Australian news, foreign affairs and women's rights, Hannah is eager to hone her skills in a professional and supportive environment.


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