I think I can see the problem here

Tom MacDonald spent nine months working in a hotel bar on the minimum wage after graduating last year.

Mr MacDonald, 22, who gained a 2.1 degree in medical and veterinary biochemistry from Swansea University, repeatedly applied for graduate jobs in finance.

A First in anything will help. A 2.1 in something relevant (physics, maths, what have you) will help. A Third from Oxbridge will help if it means that you know everyone in the coming generation.

But a not a First in a not relevant subject from a decidedly third tier university just isn\’t going to open those golden doors. and those who believe it will have been sold a pup.

19 thoughts on “I think I can see the problem here”

  1. The problem, as well, is that at one time we just didn’t have that many graduates… full stop. Big companies would fill their graduate programmes with people with degrees in English and Geography, simply because they’d proved themselves as being above A levels.

    And an interesting one in software: no-one hires geography graduates and spends thousands training them up in software development. We’d rather get some kid that’s built an app now off their own back.

  2. Offshore Observer

    Some advice, (1) perhaps if you wanted to work in finance then perhaps study economics rather than a rather strange and esoteric subject and (2) how about not applying in the middle of a recession when most finance companies are downsizing and rationalising thier operations.

    Still to give him his due, at least he has been working and not on the dole so that’s a positive

  3. >graduate jobs in finance
    I smell a touch of the Gordon Gekkos here.

    It’s not like he took a totally worthless subject, nor that biotechnology is a bad option for a career these days. You may not get the mucho moolah of a job in the City — but you don’t get put through the “treat them like shit, use them like toilet paper” mill that the telephone number salaries are to compensate for.

  4. Why is he trying to work in the city, now, given that he studied a degree that could give him a decent career in a growing sector?

  5. The City is flat on its back at the moment. He’s just spent three years acquiring some highly specialist knowlededge and proving he’s cleverer than most. Get into a research role quickly (before he forgets everything!) and build on that. I seem to remember that Mrs Thatcher was able to build on a science qualification!

  6. In truth graduate schemes are only interested in “2:1” and pay little attention to subject. From there you need to do well at the grad recruitment day. As such less than razor sharp Geography grads went straight into city graduate placements despite me teaching them how to do their finals whilst revising for my Physics finals in which I got a 2:2.

    I’m pretty proud of my Desmond. Physics is f’ing hard. Geography is a 3 year GCSE (literally the Geography finals the lad was revising for was exactly the same syllabus as my GCSE). But the conventional grad recruitment route was closed to me.

  7. He should work for Glaxo or AstraZeneca for a few years and then transfer in to City as a pharma analyst (broking, inv mgmt or private equity) if he really wants to work in finance.

  8. Not sure how valuable a non-first from a “third tier” uni is now, but my 1995 2.2 in CompSci from a “plate glass” 1960s university opened the first few doors for me, albeit in broadly the same vocation as my degree subject. I concur with H above.

  9. >my 1995 2.2 in CompSci from a “plate glass” 1960s university opened the first few doors for me

    Grade inflation means that a 2:2 now is like a third from years ago. And a 2:2 from a mediocre place in a mediocre subject is basically equivalent to a fail.

  10. At the time I did a joint BSc in Mathematics with Logic & Philosophy of Science at St Andrews, no-one had ever got a first in it. So I thought my 2:2 was OK.

    My employer will consider hiring people for a job in the City if they got an A at Maths A-level. A science degree would do it too, if he’s interested. It’d at least get him into an interview.

  11. More on point, this is the problem with a political class who don’t understand basic economics.

    Getting a degree almost guaranteed a good, well paid job. This was obviously because degrees were in low supply and high demand. But our fuckwit political class were convinced it was because degrees were made out of magic. So, if everyone gets a degree, everyone has access to the magic money puffin!

    And now we have people leaving City jobs in finance and retraining as plumbers, cause the money’s better, because two generations of teachers told their pupils not to sully their hands with manual labour because the pay’s no good.

  12. Isn’t it just wonderful that all these overpaid masters of the universe have so many years of deep specialist training in what they are going to do before they go and invest my money, rather than a mere Oxbridge 2:2 in “making the right chum studies, what what”?

    No wonder global finance is in such a fantastic state!

  13. Offshore Observer

    Squander Two. You cynic. The real reason was that people in study don’t count as “unemployed” so YOUF unemployment numbers look much better for a few years untill you have a whole bunch of unemployed twentysomthings looking for work.

  14. Problem? What problem?

    Fact of life – employers recruit people rather than degree certificates and most graduates, even those from Oxbridge (e.g. me) have to do some crap jobs immediately after graduating simply to learn how to work cooperatively with other people.

    If he keeps up his interest in his degree subject (assuming he’s not fed up with it) and keeps his mind alive, he’ll get there.

  15. My heart bleeds…

    It says he was working up to 13 hours a day @L6.19 p/h

    If he did it for 7 days, he gets L560 per week before taxes. If he did it for 40 hours a week, he gets L250 per week. This is between 9700 and 21000 quid over 9 months. (Back of envelope…)

    And he was living in with his folks.

    Assuming he doesn’t have his own family and that he didn’t pay his folks market rate for rent, even including taxes and transport this guy was doing very well from the arrangement.

    And he found something after nine months that if he doesn’t mess up could open doors for him. Isn’t this just structural underemployment?

  16. Life is vastly more difficult for the average graduate now than it was when I graduated. Looking back I can see that I was lucky in that I had a choice of jobs (although it didn’t seem like it at the time as I didn’t get my first choice) whereas now there are more graduates than jobs for graduates. However, Tom MacDonald chose to apply for a job for which his degree was completely irrelevant: even I with a good Oxbridge post-grad qualification on top of a Maths degree didn’t try that. Does the world owe him a living? I do not think so.

  17. @ Squander Two
    “My employer will consider hiring people for a job in the City if they got an A at Maths A-level.” Are you serious? I’m trying to encourage No 1 son (brighter than me, with a M Math) to come back south. Tim has my email address.

  18. A few years ago when I was involved in graduate recruitment in the City, it would have taken HR only a few seconds to decide to file MacDonald’s application in the round one.

  19. A few years back I met a history graduate, someone who scraped a 2.1. He applied for a handful of jobs in careers that interested him and was snapped up by the first company that interviewed him. The company interviewed dozens of people with law degrees and a handful without – from what he said many of the law graduates were really bad at the interview, he shone and is now a solicitor in Birmingham. Good application written specifically for the company, great interview – and you have a good chance. Generic application, bad interview…. and maybe not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *