Rachel Hanretty


Rachel graduated in June with a 2:1 in English and French from St Andrews University. Though she has since found temporary employment, Rachel has been suffering from a quarter life crisis over what she really wants to do with life and how she can match her dream job with reality. Several job interviews later, she has seen it all when it comes to recruitment techniques designed to weed out the final two from 700 hopeful young people. Rachel hopes this blog will give a voice to the thousands of graduates who make up unemployment statistics and who work unpaid in the hope of getting a real job.


  • This decision has forced prickly conversations between me and my parents, has led friends with good jobs to raise their eyebrows and smile nervously at me, and I now frequently break into laughter to cover up growing feelings of panic.

    Why on Earth have I given up a job that pays a regular income? Why have I entered into a world of uncertainty? Why give up a job when youth unemployment in the UK is at 20% and I could add to that number?

  • Seven months later I am ready to crack and from asking around, it seems we all are.

    When did Britain's young people become overly obsessed with reaching a landmark by a certain age? Some of us already feel guilty that in our made-up world of social obstacles we are behind.

    A good chunk of my friends and fellow graduates are working unpaid because we have been told that working unpaid in the media and creative industries we so desperately want to be a part of is the key to a job. But not earning a salary? Well, that's being behind in the game.

  • As a graduate let me talk about how St Andrews University is being 'demonised for failing to widen access' and why, for the sake of students' mental wellbeing, we should not lower entry requirements to inflate the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Every graduate's decision to move and find new life in the capital is increasingly influencing my decisions on whether to apply to jobs beyond Hadrian's Wall, but I feel guilty at the idea.

    Though I am far from being patriotic to the extreme of independence, I do view the idea of leaving Scotland to work in London as a slight against the country. The brain drain is a term I became aware of when my brother headed south over ten years ago, but it's time we investigated it again for discussion before the referendum.

  • I currently have a temporary position as a website content manager for an organisation and in this capacity I have been on the receiving end of emails from those in my age group.

    Dearie me - for university educated people still in the throes of learning and writing essays, it is mind-boggling to read emails with simple grammatical errors, an inability to write in a formal tone and, worst of all, an overly generous sprinkling of smiley faces.

  • For someone who has no certain future and can't see past September, it is frightening to know people have got it so together that they are making decisions which will affect them for the rest of their lives.

    More worrying is the impact this commotion around me is having on my thoughts towards finding a career.

    As a female graduate my career plan must take my ovaries into consideration while I battle with my male counterparts for a promotion.

  • For all that I would like to say I finished my 18 years of education with a flourish of intellectual brilliance, reality suggests hours of lectures and notes didn't even enhance my basic skills of reading and understanding.

    Thankfully, that minor blip didn't hold me back from a 2:1 degree classification, but this head-in-hands moment does make me wonder if all I have to play with is knowing a lot about not much. Or, as Socrates put it: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”

  • This month, the former Labour MSP and education spokesman Des McNulty wrote about poor access rates to university in poorer communities.

    His comments came after the Higher Education Statistics Agency found that 27% of Scottish students come from under-represented groups, compared to 31% in England and Wales. Mr McNulty identified this as "a salutary reminder that Scotland is not a fairer place than other parts of the UK".

    But what I would say is that finally someone has to admit that not everyone has to go to university.

  • His wish to have 16 and 17 year olds vote in the referendum for independence is wholly inconsistent with what general legislation in Scotland and the UK sets out as legal do's and don't's for young people.

    Picture the scene in Bute House between a hypothetical 16-year-old and Mr Salmond.

    Q: Can I go out for a drink with my friends?

  • Last week I had my first interview. It was for a graduate editorial trainee scheme at a well known newspaper in London.

    Over 700 people had applied and human resources had whittled it down to 24 candidates. But there was one problem, I was on holiday when the interviews were taking place.

    I changed my flight to arrive in London and not Glasgow. This cost me £70 and the train home to Glasgow was £40.

  • Last night, at approximately 9.37 pm, I was screaming at the television and giving it laldy.

    Not because I have finally finished my exams or someone made a ridiculous point on the news, or even because I had friends around and I was rekindling my social life.

    I was shouting with joy and relief that my own brother, Mark, had been put through to the next round of Dancing on Ice with his celebrity partner and fitness guru, Rosemary Conley.

  • As the pressure to find work in the Big Bad World mounts, the reality facing me and thousands of other Scottish undergraduates becomes starker as we prepare to meet the big employers.

    We aren't even over Christmas or the new year, but applications for jobs that start in ten or eleven months time have deadlines that have already passed or are about to expire.

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Rachel Hanretty

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