You can’t teach ambition

IN AN INCREASINGLY competitive job market, it has never before been so vital that university students prepare for the future and gain as much experience as they can.

Despite this competition, recent reports from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) have shown an expected 10.2 per cent rise in vacancies for graduates – with 23,000 jobs on offer. Still, this in relation to the 1,803,840 undergraduates currently studying in the UK, isn’t enough to provide all graduates with jobs. In order to guarantee yourself a job after university, you have to stand out.

You’ve no doubt heard this all before, from various graduate job guides, the internet, the university and lecturers, but why is it then that one in ten graduates will be unemployed six months after graduating? One reason is that most graduates simply do not have the experience or drive that employers are looking for. Whether this be because they’ve been unsuccessful in their applications,  have not bothered, or haven’t really thought about the future, it never fails to amaze me that some people simply do not care, do not want to achieve and are not ambitious enough to look even a year down the line to life after graduation.

There are three simple ways you can improve your job prospects:

  • Gain work experience at a relevant company: It’s so simple, yet many people do not even bother. A key piece of advice for gaining work experience is pester, pester, pester. Be tenacious, persistent, but also be patient. The first placement you apply for won’t necessarily even get back to you. Shape your emails/cover letters/CVs around the job role and company, do your research and aim high, the worst you’ll get is a no. Another tip: call the company, it’s harder for an employer to say no when you’re talking directly to them. Plus, they’ll appreciate your enthusiasm for not just hiding behind an impersonal email.

  • Volunteer: Volunteering can be a valuable way of proving yourself capable, responsible and good with time management. Even if it’s something as simple as working in a local charity shop once a week: you’re doing your bit to help, whilst improving your CV at the same time.

  • Get ahead of the game:  Time is of the essence. You have three years to make yourself employable: use your time wisely and plan ahead: applications for jobs will be springing up midway through your final year, so keep an eye out and don’t wait until a few weeks before graduation to start looking.


Even if you are not sure what to do after university, visit your careers advice centre: they can give you valuable information regarding graduate jobs related to your degree, or even those that are based more-so on your interests than degree subject. Either way it may give you some inspiration and ideas to ponder.

If you do know what area you want to go into, then you have no excuse: your degree alone won’t necessarily be enough to make you stand out of the crowd. Utilise your abilities and get vital experience.

At the end of the day, you can’t teach ambition. You’ve got to want it: so much so that you are prepared to gain as much experience as it takes to achieve your goals. No employer is going to hand you a well paid job on a plate if you’ve shown no initiative, ambition or flare. If you don’t want it, there are hundreds more who do, so don’t dawdle, because the only person’s time that you’ll have wasted is your own.