Gen Y: The Volunteer Workforce?
Unpaid - the volunteer workforce
I graduated a few weeks ago and am currently amongst the mass of young people facing their uncertain futures. I have experienced a range of feelings over the last few months from pure excitement and anticipation to sheer dread of the impending 9 to 5 life that awaits me.
The most peculiar thing is the suddenness of leaving education, an institution that has guided me throughout my life. It has been constant and secure. Now I must embark on adult life...alone. What if I get it wrong? I am, or have been until now, a wistful English student, with dreams of doing many different jobs throughout my life, and yes, a part of me does still want to be an astronaut, but to be completely truthful I feel I would be comfortable and work well in most environments. So where do I start? How do I discover what I’m good at? These questions, paired with a feeling of paralysis from the enormous range of careers a modern woman can choose from, have left me stuck in some sort of real life ‘purgatory’.
This sense of impending freedom is often hobbled by new conventions as we negotiate the modern-day hell for any new graduate: internships! Gen Y are being turned into the biggest volunteer workforce of all time. One of the biggest challenges facing graduates today is the "not enough experience" barrier. There is now an expectation that every graduate C.V. should include not one, but preferably several, internship positions. These are mostly unpaid and often arduous jobs. Many, like me, have to work without pay to gain the necessary work experience simply to get on rung one of a career ladder. Alternatively we can return to live with our parents and go back to that good old pub job we thought we’d never work again.
I was fortunate to work as a part-time intern in the final months of my degree. I gained invaluable experience in a prestigious organisation, AND my expenses were reimbursed! Unfortunately not everyone has such a positive tale. Some are more long term members of this volunteer workforce. Some of my talented and hard-up friends have shared their experiences of unkept promises for paid work around endless corners. They encountered entire sectors manned mostly by volunteers.
Sadly, it’s clear that some industries and organisations are taking advantage of the current economic climate by giving false hope to graduates about job prospects in order to tap into free labour supplies. With so many graduates entering the job market, asking for a paid job when someone else will undercut you by working unpaid, simply to gain experience, means that we see no option but to jump on the bandwagon.
Yet we all still hope that the work we do will lead to the start of a great career.
by Imogen Woodward
Imogen graduated with a degree in English in June 2011 and is looking forward to her exciting next step! Already experienced in retail, event management and marketing promotion her dream is to find an opportunity in one of these areas.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
We have Remote Learning Programs available
Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally a digital world.
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
I posed this question to my LinkedIn network “Should candidates take and read notes in interviews… or not?” Who would have thought that it could have generated such a heated discussion. The career and hiring sector is clearly not on the same page on this issue.read more
Virtual Presentations – Managing The Chat! 5 years later the expert guidance on virtual presentations hasn’t changed by more than a pinch..read more
Read our interview with Lara Morgan best selling author, millionaire entrepreneur, proud mother of three. She is determined to be a voice for growth enterprise support as well as driving sales pride in Britain.read more