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Avoiding Graduate Herd Mentality

Everyone seems to just end up going through graduate programmes. A large amount of students end up going to the one or two firms that starting making their pitch the earliest. Maybe whilst you were still in first or second year.

So we all just assume that we should probably do a graduate programme. I mean, if everyone else is doing it, then it’s probably right, right?

Nope. It is actually absurd when you think about it.

We end up determining the entire course of our lives by just following the herd. We just look around us & assume someone is in control. No-one ever stops to think who started heading in that direction in the first place.

No-one ever stops to think that everyone else is equally scared, clueless & over-awed by the prospect of adult life. So they just at whatever comes their way. At any sign that ‘this is what you should do with your life’.

And the corporates gladly welcome them in with a warm embrace, deliberately saving the cold, lifeless reality of grey offices with grey people, living grey lives, for a year or two in.

And everyone just ends up scared, confused & over-awed, copying other scared, confused & over-awed students.

Yet this is not just your responsibility. It is also caused by the deliberate, concerted effort of corporate law, finance & consultancy corporates.

They know how the psychology works.

They deliberately recruit early to create a social norm around doing a graduate programme. Everyone seems to be joining a graduate because the availability heuristic that biases our thinking tends to focus on recent examples. Because some of your friends or acquaintances recently applied for a programme, you think everyone has been applying for programmes since forever.

You see the recruitment posters, you hear about John’s £5k sign-on bonus, about the networking drinks that law firm ran last week.

It becomes public knowledge. A norm. And everyone follows norms.

So the big corporate firms invest heavily early on. They stifle competition by becoming ubiquitous. By dominating the job market in students’ heads so that they see alternative. That doing anything other than a graduate programme would be socially abnormal — weird even.

That they are the only path to a ‘successful’ life after graduation.

Which is complete bullshit.

There are a thousand more exciting things than a corporate graduate programme. Things that won’t suck the life out of you by age 25.

So you better start looking.

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