Life after graduation in France: the endless battle

November 21, 2012 11:00 am

“Experience required : minimum of 1 or 2 years”. That’s how it is now for college graduates in France. Complete nonsense. Well, that’s how I see it anyway. My parents used to tell me their time wasn’t much easier either but I have started to doubt it. How do people expect us to find a good job worth the years we spent in university when companies won’t give one chance to unexperienced young graduates? We really have to learn from other countries on this matter or soon enough, half of the freshly graduated students will look for a job somewhere else.

Two months ago, I graduated from my second Bachelor’s Degree. Licence Professionnelle Lettres, Culture et Nouveaux Médias- that’s its name in french. I am 23, and that’s my fourth year in university. Right after my baccalauréat (french A-Levels), I entered the first year of Applied Foreign Languages Degree of my hometown’s university, La Rochelle (Atlantic Coast, 2-hour drive from Bordeaux). For three years, I studied English, Chinese, Indonesian, Economics, Law, Translation. In France, contrary to the UK, students can’t choose the courses they want to follow. They choose a degree, and with the degree comes a number of courses included, and of course, they have to attend them all. It is close to the British system but degrees in France are not really specialized in one subject like journalism, communication or economics. Private schools are here for that. Degrees cover many different things. As a result, students end up studying many subjects, but only on the surface and when the time comes to specialize in one field in particular, things get tough. After my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages, I went to England to be a teaching assistant. When I came back, I entered a Licence Professionnelle, the equivalent of the third year of a bachelor’s degree, specialized in journalism and communication. A Licence Professionnelle is supposed to be more specific, preparing students to work right after graduation. In theory.

After my three-month work placement in the press relations department of a music festival, and after graduating, I decided it was time to stop and look for a job. I started looking for jobs in France, in journalism and communication. I quickly realized I didn’t have enough experience in the field to match the criteria that the employers were asking for. 2 years of experience, MINIMUM. Sure, but where do we acquire that experience if no one gives us a chance at some point ? Then, it hit me. I would look for a job in England, in London. It had always been my dream, ever since I had started to visit my family once a year when I was 2. And what England has, contrary to France, is employers who are willing to give graduates a chance to show what they are capable of. Some would say that not all employers are like this, that it is still difficult to find a job in this economy, even in the UK. I am aware of that, but it is even more difficult in France. Ask my friends, more than half of them will tell you they want to go abroad as soon as they finish their studies. They don’t want to stay in a country in which they know they will have to struggle to find a good job. Life after graduation is just full of uncertainties for French students. What they know is that sooner or later, they will end up unemployed. Or just working for a salary that is far from what they should earn after spending 5 years in university getting their master’s degree. Many of my friends are in this situation, most of them just waiting to save enough money to move abroad.
After applying to several job offers in London, I realized that my french qualifications weren’t enough for employers or simply just difficult to relate to. So I decided I would apply to university instead, and finally (hopefully) get the right diploma that would allow me to achieve my dream goal : come work in London. I am working two jobs to save enough money to pay for tuition fees next year. I know the training will be so much better than in French universities. That’s sadly what I have come to think now: leaving is probably the best option.
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