Over the past few weeks I’ve been speaking to Cardiff graduates who stayed on in the city after they’d finished their exams and handed back the keys to their cold houses in Cathays. They have all been people who are keen to let soon to be graduates know that you can make it happen in Cardiff – there’s no need to move to that other capital city, the one we won’t name with the underground trains. Every year graduates enter a slightly different environment and in 2019 the uncertainties of Brexit are looming large in everyone’s minds, Simon Williams knows a little about graduating into a difficult period, he says, ‘I graduated just before the 2008 banking crisis. I was 90% of the way towards getting onto the Lloyds Bank graduate scheme then they stopped calling, Lehman Brothers went under and banking didn’t seem like the best career choice anymore!’ Veering strongly away from banking Simon now works as a cameraman, filming rugby for S4C and others.
Meanwhile Chris Dawson Morris, who works as the Strategic Planning Lead at Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board is realistic about the benefits of the smaller stage of Wales, he says, ‘if you’re applying for graduate schemes everyone wants to work in London so put ‘Wales’ or Cardiff as youR choice for the Civil Service Fast Stream, BBC, or schemes with the big 4, sometimes there is a little less competition.’ This is a sensible approach and invites you to question why you were writing London in the first place, is it just what you think you’re supposed to be doing? If London is where you have to go to land a top job then why exactly are these schemes also recruiting in Wales?
Chris is also open about the fact that he wanted to stay in the city so took ‘the first job that came along’. It feels massively like the pressure is on when you graduate, especially if you have to find a new place to live but it’s important to remember that there is no immediate rush to find your dream career when you graduate. Chris says that following this role he took an entry level job at the Welsh Government and from there progressed into the Civil Service Fast Stream, finding his way onto a graduate scheme through a non-conventional route , there’s more to your working life than your first post-uni destination and if you are worried about the housing situation why not move back into halls over the summer? That will keep you here in the city and remind you of those distant days of your first year.
Stacey Oliver is a Campaign Manager at Cardiff based Cowshed, she works on campaigns for organisations such as Comic Relief and the homelessness prevention fund Give Differently – talking about her career development she makes it clear that making personal connections, something much simpler in the close knit Cardiff community than in a huge and faceless city, is paramount, ‘I took every opportunity that was given to me and made the most of it, even the small mundane tasks. You never know who is watching so take every challenge and do it with enthusiasm.’
If you want to stay on here in Cardiff but are hearing voices saying you need to move somewhere bigger and ‘better’ for the sake of your career then ignore them. If you want to move to London move to London but let’s not pretend it’s the be all and end all of great jobs – why not make a go of it here in the lovely Welsh capital. You’ll be able to find out more of the stories of the people quoted above and more information about staying on here in the city if you visit the #GradsLoveCardiff zone at the Big Grad Fair on Friday March 29th in The Great Hall
Best Wishes, Emily Cotterill, Projects Manager, FOR Cardiff