The Bright Network Festival, or The Highs and Lows of the Undergraduate Job Hunt

If the great equaliser for all branches of humanity is commonly held to be death, than great equaliser number two must be the equally-widespread job hunt battle.

There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this you’ve experienced it yourself, or in the ways of networking, you know a guy who knows a guy who knew a girl who saw a guy who’s heard of it. As a university student going into my penultimate and/or second year, I’ve spent my last few summer months figuring out all this career stuff because an English degree has vocational career returns of zero-squat.

I’ve settled on the highly-unique-I-bet-no-one-else-does-it career of commercial law, and to a lesser extent, consulting (three cheers if you actually know what that is). I’ve applied to open days, stalked firm Twitter accounts, and drafted and re-drafted my CV to include that trophy I won for something once back in Year 2. I’ve contacted my university’s alumni to cheat network my way into work experience opportunities, with some success. I’ve even started to enjoy insight days, the nervous trainees, the over air-conditioned rooms, water in containers which are a test themselves to open, and even the awkward and repeated name exchanges of ‘Oh hi I’m X from YZ Uni and – Oh hi, you’ve just arrived, I’m…

I enjoy it, because despite the sarcasm I’m quite set on these career avenues, for reasons I’ve personally solidified. But still, dragging myself along to the dreaded Bright Network Festival was no small feat, mainly because with a foot-count of over 1000 other ambitious and desperate students it more than full enough to be claustrophobic, unlike the smaller and more intimate open day settings I was used to. It’s also strange to see such a large group of smartly-dressed, professional-looking university students all in networking mode, with introductions and conversations consisting of running through the checklist of career interests, what you’ve applied to, where you’ll apply, etc. It’s a far and surreal cry from the many disoriented lads and ladettes chundering about at Freshers Week, that’s for sure. The pre-university students attending for an early start in the career hunt contrasted sharply against the networking-bloodhounds who half-shouted out their name to recruiters before every question they asked (in a row). Handshakes were judged. At recruiting stands, mere handfuls of business cards lay hidden, seen only by those few students confident enough to ask for them.

The clock’s already ticking, and the pressure’s already on.

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The Bright Network Festival, or The Highs and Lows of the Undergraduate Job Hunt

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