Monday, 30 November 2009

where's the silver lining?


I completed the third year of my degree in May of this year, and as soon as that dissertation hit the hands of my tutor, perfectly printed and bound, a shiver of excitement and relief washed over me. However the graduating class of 2009, of which I am one, are struggling to see the silver lining through the big black cloud that’s hanging over Britain, otherwise known as the recession.

Figures, such as those the Guardian reported in June 2009, declaring that 40,000 of the fresh faced graduates ready for the big wide world would be joining the queue at their local job centre, did somewhat dampen the celebrations of the class of 2009.

I graduated on the 6th November 2009 in a rather formal (something that many at my university would say is uncharacteristic of our reputation) ceremony in which the purpose was to celebrate our achievements. Or so I thought. Whilst I sat feeling terribly proud as I watched my friends do the walk from on side of the stage to the other, it dawned on me that we were the figures the Guardian had been talking about.

Up until that point it had gone unsaid. The last month of June, a sunny month thank god, had been spent by most of my friends (who were all studying media, communication and fashion related courses so exams were not heard of) enjoying the sunshine on roof terraces, the rest of the student loan, and documenting memories for the future, because soon enough, June ended, so did our tenancy’s and as suddenly as we were all thrown together we were ripped apart.

At that point reality kicked in. The bubble burst and pretty much everyone suffered some sort of university depression, or black hole experience. Education was officially over, but here is where the hard work began. Trying to bluff your way into a job in media, fashion or journalism is pretty hard. You would have thought the degree part would help a little but actually It seems not. I could have spent my three years of university time and money, investing in internships and probably be in a better position. But would I have the sufficient background knowledge and understanding to succeed in the world. Possibly not.

Checking the university website on results day to find that I had come away with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Writing Fashion and Culture was a bittersweet experience. Ultimately I was chuffed that all the hard work had paid off, and although I hadn’t achieved the first I wanted, it was a strange sense of achievement. University, I think is the first time in your educational life that you really stand on your own two feet, therefore the outcome is really an individual achievement. But given that it was two months since I had left university and at 12pm on a Tuesday I was sitting watching the lunchtime news desperately searching for a job while the newsreader yet again droned on about unemployment, it was slightly depressing.

My degree had set me up to do a variety of things. Writing was the backbone of my degree, while photography, styling and a lot of interesting but very confusing and sometimes scary classes on Photoshop, magazine layout and online media formed the rest.

But this world that I emerged into was very different than the one I had entered university during. The emphasis on multimedia resources had accelerated and the importance of fashion increased. The use of social media had rocketed and the popularity of blogging had created whole new avenues in which people could explore pretty much anything. And write. And fashion was thriving upon this social boom.

I recently read an article on the Guardian website by Hadley Freeman; she was giving her advice in response to a question. “What’s the best way to get a job in fashion journalism?” I recommend it to you. 

When I started my degree in September 2006 I wasn't sure what I wanted to be doing three years down the line. And now im done, I still don't know. What I do know  is that im intrigued, almost fascinated by fashion. I'm mesmerised by the arguments, explanations and theories proposed for its existence, its influence and its purpose. I know I want to write. 

I just wish there weren't so many people following the same yellow brick road as me.

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