CV-bolstering has become a full-time occupation

An accepted social stereotype of students can be that we are self-centred, middle class loafers; time wasters who are a drain on the economy, our parents, and anyone else who has the misfortune to come into contact with us. Which is why the question I’m about to ask may seem a little unusual: are students under too much pressure?

Although my degree is not particularly demanding in terms of contact hours, I have more than enough ‘suggested’ reading to keep me entertained for several decades, essays to write and authors to criticise. But it seems that this isn’t enough. In order to be at all attractive to any future employer, the majority of people would agree that I also need relevant work experience, preferably an internship or two under my belt, evidence of multiple and varied extra-curricular activities and some indication that I’m not a hermit. All this work on top of sustaining the hedonistic student lifestyle I’m supposed to be leading is exhausting.

Students are now expected to have it all, and these three years are far from a casual fling with academia interspersed with binge drinking. As well as all the extra-curricular expectations on top of a decent degree classification, the ever important issue of financing our studies is piled on top of our increasing concerns. And with all this to consider, we’re forced to prioritise. This summer, for example, I have chosen to work full-time so that I can afford to eat next year. This has meant that almost all career-enhancing projects have been put on hold until term-time, when instead of focussing on my degree, I’ll bury myself in projects, voluntary work and societies galore. But it’s worrying that CV-bolstering is becoming a full-time occupation for most students; forget the university ‘degree-factory’, is it becoming more of a CV boosting production line?

We hear it everywhere – media scare stories, casual conversations, advice from parents and tutors alike: a degree seemingly isn’t enough anymore. In order to land that dream job – or any job- we need to surpass our peers somehow, and therefore seem required to spend our free time scouting out internships, work experience and the like, as well as somehow financing our increasingly expensive degrees.

Now, I should point out that I love student activities, all the societies and sub-committees and things to be involved in. But everyone needs a break, and it is one thing being super-busy and involved during term time, but surely our summer holiday is a time to relax and unwind, rather than becoming a three month slog of full-time work? And are there real gains to be made by ensuring that we cover all bases: academic, social, voluntary, extra-curricular? Do those terrifyingly suave executives sitting in their ivory towers, disdainfully flipping through a pile of CVs, really care whether we spent our summers getting drunk with our friends in Turkey, or volunteering at a homeless shelter? Ultimately, yes.

What you put on your CV is your life on a piece of paper. You have to ensure the correct balance of professionalism and personality. It seems that, although it may be a clichéd, it is just best to be yourself. If you don’t enjoy volunteer work, don’t fake it just for your CV. Passion is evident, it always shines through. Sure, we have to face facts; particularly in certain industries, the pressure is on for us to get those coveted internship spots in order to prove our worth and determination for the job at hand. A degree just isn’t quite enough any more. It may not be fair, and it may not be easy, but that’s life. The stress of it all is enough to drive a person to Ziggy’s…

16 comments

  1. 13 Sep ’10 at 1:12 pm

    Janny Chollen

    god, some students really are insufferable

    Reply Report

  2. 13 Sep ’10 at 1:57 pm

    jerry springer

    Yet another constructive comment from Janny Chollen there. Most of your comments over the summer have been horrible, personal, and completely unconstructive towards positive debate. Thanks for adding the above to “lolz yeah that IS SO TRUE”, “in other news, Titanic hits iceberg”, “clugs what you doing to me”, “Mexican lads always kicking off innit”, “too long to read – next”, “next” (again), “Cameron looks like a *” and “it’s 901 words…you’ve embarrassed yourself”.

    We shouldn’t personally criticise student’s that volunteer their time and put their best efforts into not just a normal extra curricular activity, but one that is very public and their for everyone, including potential employers, to see. That takes guts.

    And it’s things like writing for Nouse that will, back to the article, make you more employable. It shows that you have a passion for going beyond your degree; a commitment doing being pro-active and getting involved in something that you might want to do with your life. Bolstering your CV should help your passion shine through, but it shouldn’t be chore. A CV should just be a document that shows why people should employ you, and if you’re really employable you wouldn’t have to go out of your way to bolster it – your passion to go beyond your degree and all you have to do would do that naturally.

    Reply Report

  3. 13 Sep ’10 at 4:35 pm

    Janny Chollen

    It takes guts to write for a student rag?

    No it doesn’t. It takes a laptop and (seemingly most of the time) a inflated sense of your own self-importance.

    It takes gut to go over to Afghanistan and shoot up the locals.

    Reply Report

  4. Nicely said, Jerry Springer. Theses students don’t get paid a penny for what they write. People like you, Janny Chollen, obviously enjoy the nouse website (one must assume, given you seem to have taken the time to comment on so many articles) so give the authors a break. I’ve seen so many bitchy comments just having a quick flick through the recent articles on this site, it’s unbelievable. Fairplay, criticise the content of the articles, but personal remarks about the author such as “god, some students really are insufferable” are just futile.

    Reply Report

  5. 13 Sep ’10 at 6:43 pm

    Janny Chollen

    you can’t censor me

    Reply Report

  6. We all seem to think the same, the work that goes into Nouse and other societies is well worth it. And knocking that, is just sad. Seriously, how much time do you put into being “Janny Chollen” a week? What a waste.

    Reply Report

  7. 14 Sep ’10 at 1:39 pm

    Certain someone

    “you can’t censor me”

    Don’t be so sure Ms Chollen.

    Reply Report

  8. CV’s go through a database online in big corporations, so instead of volunteer work, you just need a few ‘correct’ words that the companies screen, in order that your CV pass screening… Not sure if volunteer are one of the secrets words. ;)

    Reply Report

  9. is cv bolstering really that important? surely you, your transcript, your degree qualification, and other work experience (part time jobs…) can speak for themselves.

    i can’t imagine them taking internships so seriously post-recession, all the people i know with internships got them through daddy. i wouldn’t want that in my firm, personally.

    Reply Report

  10. 17 Sep ’10 at 9:32 am

    corporate lacky

    Given the increased competition for jobs post – recession, there is even more need for grads to fight to set themselves apart! I worked for a big 4 Audit firm and noone there got internships from daddy, there is a very rigourus and competitive series of tests and interviews there. Some interns get graduate job offers based on their work as well, so they are definitely worth doing.

    Reply Report

  11. Getting help from daddy is called nepotism. Good article.

    Reply Report

  12. your degree classification*

    Reply Report

  13. Why shouldn’t you go after internships and participate if the opportunity comes your way? Not trying to improve your prospects because of some chip on your shoulder (which is pretty misplaced, by the way) is just dumb. Yes, there is a degree of nepotism in these things, but so what? You can’t change anything by sabotaging your own chances. Like the author says, it may not be fair or easy, but that’s life.

    Reply Report

  14. The Titanic comment was actually funny…

    A.

    Reply Report

  15. i didn’t ever suggest that i would not want to partake in an internship, to be honest i would love the opportunity to decide whether or not my ambitions are truly what i want, or if i do not enjoy the work associated with my chosen career path. i merely suggested that maybe they’re not as valuable to an employer as previously believed, or as argued in this article: because of their association with nepotism, or due to their rapidly declining availability…i never discredited their worth to the student and i never implied that i would not want to do one. i simply stated that i doubt they’re of vital importance to a future employer, all considered.

    Reply Report

  16. I can understand the panicked tone! The media paints a pretty bleak picture of the graduate jobs market.
    I graduated in July and was terrified that the recession would make it impossible but be assured there are still options! There are great PAID internships if you hunt around, there is great up-to-date advice available all over the web and there are tons of graduate schemes and graduate jobs out there. It’s true that competition is stiff, hence the importance of CV boosting, but most important of all is coming across as a friendly, professional, confident and polite (take note Janny Chollen! ;) ) to potential employers. A great CV might get you an interview, but personality counts for far more in securing the job.

    Reply Report

Leave a comment



Please note our disclaimer relating to comments submitted. Please do not post pretending to be another person. Nouse is not responsible for user-submitted content.