Years and years of hard work all led to this moment.. I graduated!! The feeling of joy and relief slightly blends into a feeling of insecurity and fear. What now?! During the past years, working always seemed so far away, but now, there are some life changing decisions that have to be made… The world is your oyster! The sky is the limit! But is it really? Nowadays, finishing a master’s degree is not a guarantee for finding a job anymore, but it’s more the tale of a needle and a haystack. Should the university make you more ready for the labor market? Is it just your own responsibility? How can we narrow the gap between students and the working life?
University equals job?
The name scientific education already gives it away, the university educates students to be successful academics. But how many of these students are actually going to work as a scientist? If you look around in your own environment as a student, you could probably guess the answer: not a lot! The majority of all university graduates are looking for a job with a company, instead of being a scientist. So, why doesn’t the university takes more responsibility in preparing students for this?
Companies are requesting starters with practical skills. Only, the university does not think it is their task to cater for these practical skills, resulting in a “skills gap” between companies and graduates. It seems important that the universities and companies sit down with each other to come up with possibilities to try to bridge the gap between students and companies. Neglecting the importance of practical skills also brings another threat to the table.
“Farmer searches wife” becomes “nuclear physic searches wife”?
“Two million communication scientists, but no one who can fix a tap”. While hearing Pieter Derks words with my fresh communication science degree in my pocket I can only share his concern about our economy’s future (and my own). We are living, as Pieter Derks described, in a knowledge economy, where we get aroused when someone tells you his/her position is an investment development and research analyst. He suggests if we go on like this in a few years we will be watching nuclear physic searches wife, instead of farmer searches wife, because there are no farmers anymore! Well, okay, this is a bit exaggerated, but the point is that more degrees doesn’t mean that you are more important in our society.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to convince you to drop out of college and all become plumbers. Also, as in many stories there is not one villain to blame, like the universities or the economy itself. Like most clichés this one is also true “your future is in your own hands”. The truth is: it’s freaking scary when you graduate and you have to decide what to do next. But try to see it as an opportunity and don’t choose a fancy traineeship just because all your classmates talk about it. Take the time to find out what makes you happy, and if that’s a plumber so be it (and you make Pieter Derks very happy). And if that’s working as a communication scientist, go for it! And obviously, the MAA is always there to help you with finding your career path.
And you will live happily ever after (at least until your next crisis…)