I have not been made to feel angry in a while. That must be because I was studying. A university no matter how much it says is trying to expose you to a number of different things, is still a protected environment. Teachers can be mean but they can’t be that mean, you can get really low marks but it’s really unlikely that you will fail. Barring your first semester, you come to know that there’s a limit to what you will be made to suffer, that there’s a line that doesn’t get crossed.
Now that line soon evaporates as soon as you graduate. I have been working since my A Levels and have always been aware of the so-called cut-throat environment that exists out there, where you’re the only one taking care of yourself, where you’re not always given groups to work on presentations.
I have been through the process of professional hazing – where they only give you menial tasks to do before moving you on to the real job. I have seen my fair share of office politics, the grapevine at work, promotions being announced and falling apart, projects being announced and falling apart – sometimes all because of that last-minute word of “caution”. It could be anyone and you learn to watch out, learn to curb the funny one-liners that would otherwise be really entertaining but would put you in the bad books of someone who leads the grapevine. You don’t want to talked about like that.
And then after a while, you get used to it and even start enjoying it. It puts you on edge but also keeps you coming back. You’re in no one’s protection anymore. Your actions now have serious consequences. No one likes playing a game where they know they will always win, for too long. You do at some point want to go up against the big guns and a work environment lets you do that.
However, nothing irks more than being unfairly judged, particularly if you have your monthly income and job description on the line and here comes the fresh graduate problem.
“What does he know? He is a fresh graduate.”
“A fresh graduate should…”
“This fresh graduate came up to asking for 50k (laughter)…”
And this incessant comparison between you and a freshly baked item of a bakery goes on and on. It doesn’t matter if you have a substantial work experience or have mastered certain skills (with things to show for it) if you just graduated. You might as well be a fish in an aquarium trying to make your point but all anyone else sees is an inaudible mouth gasping for air.
What all of this does is basically send the message that not only does acquiring education not guarantee jobs, it downright lowers the chances of you getting a decent one. Skills and work experience are definitely important but the fact that you just got out grad school doesn’t mean that you’re devoid of them. A lot of people opt for acquiring degrees at a later stage in their life instead of just starting right after high school.
The term “fresh graduate” has been too loosely used to account for those exceptions and that’s just really unfortunate.