I was doing a bit of mentoring work with a group of students over the past few months. I thought it would be a nice way to learn more about the challenges that students face these days and give back the things I’ve learnt through experience over the years.
Here are a few things I noticed in my interactions with them:
- Everyone is hyper PC these days
Now I know as society moves further and further to the left this is expected, but honestly it felt like these students were so careful about the words they used, weather it be LGTBQ+, or discussion the “traditional owners of the land” or a comment around darker skin colours.
Now I get it, we’re all only allowed to express opinions when it complies with the social norms of society and there’s no safe space to speak openly about how you truly feel unless its to very close people whom you trust but I felt for these guys. I’m sure the thicker skin my generation developed is being well eroded into the more herbified final product of today.
- The sacrifices of lockdown
Everyone hated morning lectures, or last minute all nighters to get assignments done, but those experience coupled with the campus where you bumped into people and made excellent friends for life, they were the bits of University life most people remember. The COVID generation are instead going into Zoom lectures, dozing off and becoming social recluses through no fault of their own.
The social experience of university being heavily compromised sucks, and I’m sure many will use that FOMO and potentially travel or stretch their degrees out to get a “complete” social experience of being a student.
- The fear amongst students regarding the future
COVID showed us how quickly the economy can crash then restart. One day its doom then slowly the market regains confidence and booms. Now with migration largely on hold until 2022 many graduating students will be going into a job market which will have fewer international students and low-level workers to compete with. For more experienced workers, this has been a godsend where they have been able to find more lucrative roles and negotiate salaries that they probably wouldn’t have been offered without the pandemic.
However, as with most students, there’s a fear of graduating and not finding appropriate work. Everyone has that, and it’s a valid concern. Although in hindsight, I think most individuals that continually push themselves, upskill and try, will be offered the opportunities to succeed in a place like Australia, most of these younger folk – they simply struggle with that idea.
So, what do they do? They go hard and try to overcompensate. The number of times I’ve had first year students asking me to review their CV has been rather surprising, especially when they can’t even apply for vacation work for another year.
I do honestly think things will improve, and return to some level of normality. A good comparison would be to the generation that graduated into the GFC. They eventually turned out alright in most cases..