Just last week I came across an article that really caught my attention. It was an article written by a Guardian columnist which stated that graduate recruitment is a ‘dark art’ that stunts young people from following their ultimate aspirations.

This really got me thinking, and upon reflection, here are my thoughts.

We’re not ‘dragging young people down from their dreams’ as the columnist claims.

As graduate employers,

We’re helping young people cultivate fruitful careers.

We’re moderating their ideals and offering graduates opportunities to get paid for what they enjoy doing.

We’re encouraging them to realise their dreams by, in some cases, taking alternative pathways that they hadn’t yet considered.

In my opinion, graduate recruitment is not about stamping on dreams at all. It’s about understanding young people’s motivations and ensuring they find a career that stimulates them and stretches them. People fulfil their ambitions and desires by taking different routes and if an individual is smart enough to take the time to understand their motivations at a young age, then they will be able to choose a career that satisfies those desires.

Graduate jobs nowadays are wide reaching and not just confined to the financial sector as some perceive. There are opportunities for graduates in SMEs, the charity sector, retail, sales, even the forces. Amongst others, we have recruited a cider maker in Hereford, given graduates opportunities to travel internationally and recruited graduates to run business units; some really exciting and diverse careers that graduates are passionate about pursuing.

A graduate’s first job may not be what they imagined when they began university three years ago, however it could be the perfect match to their skill set and behaviours. To prove this point, a graduate that Discovery placed at Wolseley UK explains first-hand how his rather unexpected first job has delivered great satisfaction, a challenge and an excellent platform to build his career on:

“I originally applied for an operations position but Discovery recommended that was actually better suited to the Graduate IT Management Trainee programme. I thought they were crazy as I had very little technical IT knowledge but they said they were looking for somebody with business experience, who was open minded and could learn quickly. Discovery recognised that it was the right personality and skill set that was more important than technical knowledge – and they were right. I now know that the job you think you’ll be good at may not, in fact, be the right one for you. Matching your skill set to jobs is a much better way of looking at things. I would never ever have thought about applying for the IT role one but I really enjoy it and know it was the right job for me.” Alex Sanné, Graduate IT Management Trainee, Wolseley UK

This just goes to show that when it comes to developing their careers, young people often need some expert guidance to encourage them into the jobs that are right for them. The employer that visits their university and gives a great pitch about graduate careers will certainly put a tempting offer on the table, but this may not be right for the individual. Graduates have to take the time to understand themselves, to research, to test the water, to learn more about themselves and where they fit in to the world of work.

Those that truly want to become the poets, pop stars and presidents of the future will, because they will whole-heartedly have the drive and desire to get there, and no graduate employer is going to stand in the way of them.

For the rest of the graduate population, we’re not blocking access. We’re lifting barriers, giving young people access to excellent employers, like you, who can support them to achieve their goals, as well as your own.

The article in question paints a bleak picture and underestimates that perhaps graduates do want to get a job and start building their career post-university. After all, what is wrong with going to university to secure a good, rewarding job that pays the bills?