A 2030 day in the life: the perspective of a recent graduate

Woman looking at her laptop
Jacqueline Barnes is a recent graduate and avid blog writer in 2030, read an extract from their perky blog below.

I’m Jacqueline Barnes, a recent graduate in Anthropology at St Andrews University. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you can probably take a pretty good guess at what the title is a reference to. But if you’re new to these pages and you’re hearing my voice read out these words for the first time, welcome! That title is a reference to a popular TV series from the 1980s called Blackadder, which I wrote my dissertation on “Media and Social Trauma in the 19th and 20th centuries” (Hover over the title for all linked posts). The picture quality borders on unwatchable, and I was really taken aback by the discriminatory nature of some of the humour, but as my regular interactors will know, it’s become a very guilty pleasure. “Goodbyee” is the name of the final episode of the series, as the eponymous Blackadder and his companions go over the top during WWI, and while my situation thankfully is much less ‘dulce et decorum est’, I also find myself being sent forwards into a frightening unknown.

OK, forgive the melodrama, but hear out the ramblings of someone who is maybe not quite ready to make the step into the working world. I’ve already talked previously about getting my result (*cough* did I mention I got a first and I’m very pleased with it *cough*), and that really felt like an end, a satisfying end to my university journey. But this beginning of my working career makes me much more nervous.

And quite frankly unhappy. You’d think I be used to dealing with AI faces after uni and those endless automated bespoke lecturer programs, but it really is pretty soulless sitting at my parents’ kitchen table and reciting the same spiel about my cv to an artificial grinning face. I won’t be telling you anything you don’t know when I point out that your CV is already pre-screened, and what comes out of your mouth doesn’t really matter, as long as your pronunciation is clear and you don’t stutter. I probably should have been more sceptical at the careers fair when those companies said they offered 90% of applicants an interview. The algorithms probably worked out I was naïve before I did.

Friends from my year who studied law got training contracts without ever speaking to a human directly. LAWYERS! It must be the afore-mentioned naivety, but surely you need to look someone in the eye and work out if they have the slightest moral scruples before training them to interpret and develop the rules of society which affect us all. Nope, just write a timed essay, submit your course marks and performance metrics, play the 5 minigames which sort you neatly into personality buckets ranging from future world leader to no-future failures.

I guess the upside is that applying for a job does take so much less time than it did before. My stepsister said it took 3 months from her sending her CV to being offered the position. I’ve seen full applications take less than 3 days! Although the downside is of course, in my case uncertainty has just been replaced by swift rejection. Although on that note, I’d really highly recommend the “StressCheck” app – it links your calendar and smart watch, and tracks non-exercise heart-rate increases so you can put a number on what stresses you out. I think it makes it easier to take a break from the applications when you can see that doing it for 3 hours has a visible impact on my health.

“The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry” (May as well keep recycling content from the dissertation – after all I am part of the green generation). I guess, like Brooks, I just feel a little institutionalised after uni. Looking at the whole experience from the outside, it does seem to be more and more something from a previous time. Yes, the technology is there, but I also remember handing my hand-written essay to my tutor and discussing the physical book (!) in person. That’s maybe why I loved uni so much, I could search the entire university database looking for the occurrence of just one phrase from my laptop, but then I could go get out the physical book and look at the scribblings someone had left in the margin. It was a great balance, at least for me personally.

Perhaps at the end of this you’ll be surprised to find I’m remaining pretty positive about the future. I’ve started looking at smaller, non-mainstream companies who want you to write a CV and cover letter, and who want you to come to the office for an interview so they can get to know a human being and not just a set of statistics. I’ve got an in-person first round interview next Tuesday.


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