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3 Jan

A new year has arrived and the festive period has rushed past once again. ‘Twenty Ten’ has certainly been a good year to me with my graduation, 21st birthday and first step on the career ladder being personal highlights. More global events such as unprecedented international fiscal bailouts, a disappointing FIFA world cup, coalitions and ‘wikileaks’ have all shaped the last 12 months in the western world. This nostalgic mindset raises speculation on what the next year will bring and, subsequently, the first few days of January becomes a time when people set themselves goals that they most likely will never stick to…. new year’s resolutions.

So here is two of my annual pledges I know I can (and will!) stick to…

1.)     Fully utilise everything in the social networking sphere for personal and professional gain.

2.)    Carry on pursuing my interests in Human Geography and applying to everyday life.

What better way to chase these goals than reviving this blog? I guess I will review this in 362 days time..

Happy New Year!



Why care about [graduate] Human Geographers?

7 Jun

This post is a response to the thought provoking comment from Ed Hannifan on my ‘About’ page. He raised four questions which, in my opinion, every graduate of Human Geography should carefully consider:

1. What’s the point in knowing about any of the stuff we have been taught over the past three years or so?

Well, that is a question that is both subjective and complex in nature. For a start, everybody ‘knows’ different things because nobody has the same experience at University, be it differing units of study (or modules) or uneven levels of learning. Furthermore, it is up to the student to decide whether what they are learning is important or not. This aside and in the interest in finding ‘the point in knowing’, I would suggest the following:

There is a difference between knowing and applying. – ‘that IS the point’

All of the ‘stuff’ we are taught during our Geography degrees only has a point if we can apply it to everyday life, from work to play. For example, the most knowledgeable person in the world (a walking dictionary if you like) is useless unless they can apply themselves.

2. Why would your employer care if you’ve learnt about a disfunctional family of topics and concepts, taught by a bunch or fairly parochial aged men?

I am not sure Human Geography is a ‘disfunctional family’, more of a vast, interlinked monster which lurks everywhere?! (Although, if you want to label Geography dysfunctional, surely this a credit to our ability to deal with diversity?) Moreover, it is the skills we have nourished which is the important factor(s) here. An employer will not care so much about your discipline per se, as long has you can effectively demonstrate how they are at benefit from your presence in their organisation. This leads on nicely to Ed’s next point:

3. Why we are at an advantage having learnt the things we have?

Perhaps otherwise put as “What is the unique selling point of a geographer?” – Literature on student employability will tell you a list of classic examples (See See Rees et al. 2007). However, I will stress that it is down to the individual to make their own advantage; nobody should have to tell you what you have, right?

4. Why should anyone else care that we learnt the things we did?

It is not why they should they care, it is how can we make them care?! Why would anybody care about anything? – Because they are told or convinced they should care.

What Ed has (perfectly and rather conveniently) hit on here is a motive of this blog. I am not claiming to have answered Ed’s questions and you will have noticed that I have only suggested how they can be answered. This is deliberate as I firmly believe that giving Human Geographers a group identity is challenging due to the diverse nature of the subject and the individuals involved. As I view it, the key for graduate Geographers is to minimise your internal competition (against other geographers) whilst maximising your collective identity (making people care about Geographers); surely a paradox? No, innovative and original movers should be noticed first. An individual person cannot represent the whole of Human Geography, it is just too vast. It is the individual’s application of their knowledge and skills which is crucial to graduates.

Geography is what you make it; once you have decided what you have made, only then can you sell it.

University Graduation, Haircuts and ‘Moving On’

1 Jun

Finishing University has made me realise something that, prior to such ‘freedom’, was under-stressed to me and my fellow students: ITS NOT ALL ABOUT DEGREES. Let me be clear, I am not undermining my qualification, rubbishing the importance a good education or regretting my choice to go to university and study Geography. In fact, it has been my best decision so far. However, I have, like many of my fellows, rapidly developed an appreciation for ‘the bigger picture’. Whilst I always knew that I was going to finish my degree and I have largely stuck to my game-plan, the apparent freedom of finishing my final exams has significantly altered my perspective of post-graduate life [one consequence being this blog!].

I guess you are now thinking “well obviously your attitude towards it is going to change… you’ve reached the end of your degree….every graduate faces the same challenge” ; Okay, I agree, BUT, I do not agree with what many consider the next step. From talking to my fellow geography students there seems to be two approaches to finishing university:

1.) Apply like crazy for Jobs and/or a Masters course.
2.) “I guess I’ll just ride it out and hope for the best…..”

These customary attitudes towards ‘moving on’ seem problematic in my eyes. Firstly, whilst approach one potentially offers you the security of a job and the satisfaction of knowing you are ‘trying’, it also threatens to rush you into a field you do not want to be in and/or are not happy in (be it immediate or later in life). Furthermore, I have personally found it rare that a final year student has a fully thought out plan or goals before they ‘apply like crazy’; thus suggesting that they are ill prepared for the field they are about to jump into. Secondly, approach two is just too hazy (perhaps lazy!) for me.

Taking the above points (along with some additional reading!) has caused me to view myself as a product; where my buyers are potential employers, people I meet (both in real life and virtually) and any others who I come in contact with. This product is still, and always will be, in development…. continually searching for the right niche in the market (or field of employment/speciality), making sure the product is best prepared for the buyers needs and wants. Leaving the ‘University field’ has created an opportunity for a re-branding of this product (starting with a haircut!). And, like any other product, serious long-term planning is required – making sure I do not launch the product into the wrong market [as we see above in approach 1.)]. Moreover, I will not just let the product ‘ride it out and hope for the best’, I would rather build the ride so I can best know what is coming; thus minimise the hope and create opportunity.

What I am a proposing here is that graduation is not simply a starting gun for the employment race, it is more of an opportunity to build and re-enforce your product (yourself). Yes, a job is required to support your financial means; however, I believe that a carefully thought-out plan full of innovation and determination is needed to build a career in which you happily prosper.

It is my life, I am the product, and a durable brand supported by a strong plan is crucial to my future.