Uni vs school of life: Reality bites

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013

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I got my first job doing a junk mail run at 11 years old. I gave it up the year I turned 16 when I got a supermarket job. The year I turned 18 I was made a supervisor and I stayed on as a casual when I moved to Wellington to study a Bachelor of Design majoring in digital media at Victoria University.

Within the first three months of university I had two jobs, one in a convenience store and one in small local store. After a few months I left the convenience store to concentrate on my studies.

In my second year I struggled to find a flat I could afford on the student loan, so I ended up sharing a room with my new boyfriend just to make ends meet.

In my third year I picked up a bar job and transferred to a local supermarket. I was working three jobs and studying at university, still sharing a room and still struggling to make ends meet as prices rose, but I was assured it would be worth it once I had my qualification.

In my fourth year I dropped back to just working at the local store as I was failing my studies due to overworking. I graduated with double the normal number of graduates as Victoria University switched from four-year to three-year degrees. I knew the job market was going to be harsh so I did an extra year's study at a polytech, gaining two certificates and keeping one of my jobs.

I've been job hunting seriously for about four months, but began scoping things out six months ago.

My degree means I can work in a variety of areas in the media world, from programming robotics to building websites and making games to editing movies.

I also did enough work in furniture design that I should technically have a minor in it, but my CV already scares most employers.

A lot of web employers mistake digital media for computer science, but we learn different coding languages. Employers want someone who studied both, but the university generally frowns on and refuses such intense double degrees.

Printing companies don't want us because our degrees say digital. The only editing work I can get is unpaid, but my computer is in serious need of an upgrade and I haven't even seen any furniture jobs going in the area.

So why not do counter work? Because I have a degree, so I should look for a job more suited to my field. According to employers having a degree means I can no longer work in the retail area I've spent most of my life in, even if I just need to make ends meet and save some money for three years.

And what about my field of study? Well, I don't have the three to five-plus years of experience they want.

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I get told to move overseas, which I could do, but who's going to pay for the plane ticket? Not to mention provide until I find a job that actually pays.

I have more than $60,000 of debt, work eight hours a week at the part-time job I've had for five years (where they can't give me more hours), but nowhere else will hire me, even with years of decent working experience, and years of studying.

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