University isn’t a race for a job

After months of revision, stress and waiting for results, you have finally arrived at university. The next chapter in your life, that you have been anticipating for years, has finally begun. Within only a few days of starting, you are receiving emails and Facebook notifications inviting you to various different corporate events. Career clinics, networking events, talks from industry experts. It all sounds really exciting and you eagerly click ‘Going’ on Facebook.

But wait: you haven’t yet worked out where your laundry room is, and yet you’re already being forced to think about a job. Is it right to put such pressure on students to decide upon a career early on or does this taint the university experience?

These events can be incredibly useful. The opportunity to gain an overview of the corporate world and to build connections with a large number of top firms is undoubtedly a golden opportunity to take the first steps on the path towards your dream job. They also help to create more of a level playing field in the search for jobs, pushing pre-existing connections to one side. However, corporate events at university can be overwhelming, not least to freshers, or those with little to no idea of what they want from life after Oxford. We don’t all have the luxury of a more vocational degree such as medicine or law. For some, it’s impossible to know where to begin.

The large number of corporate events organised and promoted by the University give the impression that only these jobs are worth pursuing. This is, of course, untrue. Even though the majority of Oxford students go into law, finance, accounting etc, there are other avenues. Perhaps companies should advertise events with a target audience, from students searching for an overview of a profession to those graduating this year dreaming of a job with a specific firm. Having a central hub through which all such events are advertised would also mean that students wouldn’t miss out on helpful events. If societies advertised their events through this central hub, students could then decide to sign up to a society if they organised lots of events relevant to them.

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Yet organisations like Bright Network are trying to change this. They host an annual festival, which is similar to Freshers’ Fair, but with different companies from a range of fields. There are also talks giving tips on CVs, applications and the like.

Go to events that interest you, but don’t panic about attending everything. Oxford is not a race for a job. It is a place to study your chosen degree and to make the most of the other activities and societies around you. Even if you have no idea what you want to do post-Oxford at the end of your final year, everything will work itself out. Don’t be intimidated by other students with job offers or events promoted by the University which suggest you need one too.