Monday, 11 April 2011

"Graduate view"

Found these articles, part 1 from last October and part 2 from November. I could relate to these from my own experience of looking for a "graduate" career, I was seeking 'computer programming' but IT related graduate schemes seemed to imply you'd just start as such for a short time but ultimately be trained to become a manager, the glossy brochures were full of the testimonials of "Two years later I took up my junior managerial role."

Part 1 tells of how the writer struggled with interview questions about "thinking of times when he had worked as part of a team or displayed leadership skills". Leadership skills were frequently mentioned in the "graduate" brochures I got in my final year, and it was a painful reminder when I had my first appraisal in the programming job I held from 1997-2002, that the director said I had to "improve" at leadership skills in that job, as he liked to envisage moving everyone up and developing teams of new people below us and that other people joining when I did had shown such potential leading qualities which I hadn't. I didn't want to lead anyone, I just wanted to keep programming as I was good at it, but that appraisal felt like an ultimatum that I'd be sacked if I didn't improve at leadership. Fortunately this would not be the case, and he dropped leadership from my appraisal criteria in future years, as he realised I would not be one to develop in that way and that he should use me to do what I was good at. After redundancy from that job, however, it really hit when jobs I went for required customer facing analysis, and those where I could just be a programmer I would be told "you have too many years experience as this is a junior role."

It does highlight the common perception that "graduate = manager". The other ex-programmer's blog I follow has a page on "Employer attitudes", see the last paragraph headed "Ambition or lack of it".

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