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Graduation Anxieties

An Insight into St Andrews' High Graduate Employment Rate

While the statistics online may vary in regards to the exact rate of employability for St Andrews students after graduation, it is confirmed that the number is reassuringly high. When applying to St Andrews myself I remember finding a statistic that found that the percentage of students who were in work, or enrolled in further study within six months of graduating, was 98 per cent. Even among other top universities in the UK, such as Oxford and Cambridge, this figure is extremely high.

Whether it is the quality of the education that we receive or the intrinsic social value of simply attending a high-ranking university, there are likely a multitude of factors contributing to these statistics. Can these statistics be attributed to our alumni networks and the connections that students make by association with one another during our time at uni? To get a better feel of why St Andrews enjoys the post-graduation employment success it does, The Saint has interviewed the following four students on their thoughts and experiences in regards to planning their future.

Kayli Grise, a third-year student studying economics & management, provides a unique perspective. Her plan is to go into forensic accounting and eventually work her way up in order to become an independent freelancer when she is older. Kayli’s internship over the summer has already offered a place should she choose to work there after graduation. Understandably, therefore, she is “not super worried” about the prospect of being unemployed after graduation.

I asked Kayli about her contact with the university’s career centre and facilities, and just like every other student I spoke to, she stated that she has had no contact with them at all. I posed the question of whether she believes that St Andrews is an environment that fosters people’s ability to pursue their career paths; she responded:

“I think that it takes a special type of person. The person also has to be motivated socially and be confident and committed to what they are doing, because I think in every sense people have to advocate for themselves. The University brags about how many opportunities they offer, and they may send you an email that goes straight to your spam.”

Kalyi goes on to say that she believes the university is currently overwhelmed with the process of recovering lost revenue from the pandemic:

“At the end of the day, it is a for-profit institution, they want more funds for better professors so that they can increase their rankings on the league tables. It’s never about the students and what they need, it’s about going out into the world and getting a reputable degree, to then rep the uni.”

In terms of the opportunities the university has to offer, Kayli states that “those who are keenest will go for it”. She makes the analogy of a parent that has too many kids to look after and predicts that the process of having each student consult the careers centre would be overwhelming for the university. However, just as university is about cultivating personal independence and transitioning to adulthood, many would say that the role of ‘a parent’ at this age should not be a hand-holding process. Students at this age are no longer children, and many would agree that tasking others with the role of helping us figure out our desired career goals could perhaps be viewed as counterproductive. Self-motivation and taking initiative are the primary components when it comes to furthering one’s career in the real world.

Robert Sidey, a physics student in his fourth year, discusses his own experience with the entrepreneurship centre. As one of the few students who has actually engaged with the university’s entrepreneurship centre, Robert’s efforts certainly express a “‘keen-ness”’ to pursuing his career-goals. After being awarded funding for his start-up by the university in enrolling on a course with the entrepreneurship centre, Robert received 750 pounds. He then entered a competition hosted by the uni and was awarded 1,000 pounds in funding for his start-up and now holds a position in Santander’s Annual Entrepreneurship Awards, a national business pitching competition.

I asked Robert how he feels that the university has helped him in pursuing his career, to which he responded: “It actually gave me the confidence that I could do something like this. It’s also given me the funding I need to do something like this, as well as the initial connections.”

Robert intended to pursue a Masters in physics as a direct entry student, but has since changed his mind and will now be graduating in his fourth year. However, despite securing an internship at a global asset management group last summer, he still expresses concerns regarding employment once he graduates.

“I’m applying to as many graduate schemes as I can. Even though I've already done one last year I can’t get complacent and ‘rest on my laurels’ if you know what I mean. ”

Avery Hopkins, a fourth-year modern history and film studies student, plans to go into graphic design. When asked about her career choice she replies: “I want someone here to know that you don’t have to apply to Morgan Stanley”.

With several internships in the field under her belt already, Avery feels “relatively confident” about her plans for after she graduates. I eventually want to go into advertising. She describes being disillusioned by her initial goal of becoming a lawyer:

“I did an intro Law Program a few years ago and realised it wasn’t for me. I realised that I don’t want 80 hour working weeks, and the reading is often boring. I honestly feel like I didn’t care enough.”

Preferring the creative and fast-paced world of the advertising industry, Avery is looking forward to actually enjoying the work that she wants to do once she leaves university. Her concerns about employment are relatively low.

“I have the rest of my life to work, I don’t need to spend next summer working right away. I feel like I don’t need to worry about internships right away. It’s a different field — it’s not a clear-cut path like it is in finance or medicine.”

In my discussion with Kyle Morrison, a third-year economics student, he expressed many of the common concerns faced by students. Having done an online course for several weeks and a part-time job he described his summer as being “quite balanced”.

“I did a remote economics course over the summer at LSE and was also able to travel a bit and enjoy my summer as well”. In terms of applying to internships he discusses balancing the stress of his assignments at university and the wider world.

How concerned are you about getting a job when you graduate, I ask. “I just feel like I have to apply to so many, and I also have assignments on top of that. Many of the applications also want you to do tests or quizzes online which can be consuming and stressful. I think I just need to make a spreadsheet and apply to as many as I can, but I just don’t know how to guarantee that I get an internship this summer.”

While there is an admittedly diverse range of opinions and experiences from the students we have interviewed, it is important to note that they are not representative of the entire student body. However, one takeaway from these interviews is that ample resources are certainly available to those who seek them out.

Photo: University of St Andrews


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