How to get that graduate job: lessons from TV

There are upsides to indefinite unemployment, especially when you find yourself in this particular predicament in the Autumn, the season of mists, mellow fruitfulness, and an abundance of glorious television drama. As I tread the vast waters of joblessness, not only is there ample time for me to avail of the delights of the Autumn drama output, there is also room to acquaint myself with classics that have previously escaped my attention. Thus I am currently ploughing through season 1 of The West Wing (a programme I cannot believe I have thus far neglected, and that makes me dearly want to swan around in a suit being eloquent and witty but also staggeringly intelligent and astoundingly efficient) whilst simultaneously enjoying new series of Peaky Blinders, The Good Wife and, of course, everybody’s favourite Sunday evening staple, Downton Abbey, the drama that drama forgot.

I would just like to mention here, as a disclaimer of sorts, that I have actually been taking productive steps to finding a job alongside all of this sustained consideration and critiquing of screen-based popular culture. My parents – with whom I am currently living – will probably read this, and I’d hate them to think that all of the hours I spend holed up in my bedroom are dedicated to lovingly binge-watching fifteen-year-old US TV dramas rather than the reality: carefully crafting cover letter after cover letter, and watching my practice psychometric test scores creep painfully slowly towards the desired percentile. Last year, when I was still basking in the luxury of student life, I wrote a column containing recommendations for television programmes that were appropriate as revision. Now that I find myself essay-less and exam-less, I feel an update may be necessary. And the truth is, there are countless lessons to be learned from the stars of the small screen. So without further ado, here it is – Productive Television Consumption: The Graduate Edition.

Core competencies: lessons from the Bake Off.

Independence. Drive. Initiative. Determination. Risk-taking. Tenacity. Multitasking skills. Ability to produce the perfect choux pastry.

Until that last one, this could easily have been yet another list of core competencies reeled off by yet another ‘Requirements’ section on yet another graduate scheme website. In fact, it’s a list of all the qualities possessed by our beloved Great British Bake Off contestants. With that in mind, the only motivation I have for watching this week’s final is because I’m looking to gain inspiration for any application forms, interviews or assessment days that may miraculously come my way. It’s obviously not just because I quite like gazing at baked goods for extended periods of time. Nothing to do with that.

'Can you tell me about a time when you showed initiative under the icy glare of Paul Hollywood?'

‘Can you tell me about a time when you showed initiative under the icy glare of Paul Hollywood?’

Surviving numerical reasoning: Daisy in Downton Abbey

Times they are a-changing (as they are wont to do alarmingly often in the land of Downton), and Daisy is worried that her maths skills aren’t quite up to the standards that a future career may demand of her. I FEEL YA DAISY. Numerical reasoning tests are the Thomas to my Miss Baxter, the bus (read: Bates) to my Mr Green. Every time this poor kitchen maid bemoans her non-existent affinity with numbers, I find myself nodding along to her proclamations of woe. I, too, have been the victim of much numerical trauma. I, too, have spent hard-earned cash on books that might help, only to cast them aside in despair. But Daisy is not going to give up. She’ll keep going, even if it means hiring Miss Bunting to teach her alongside the demands of her never-ending culinary to-do-list. An inspiration to all those who feel defeated by data interpretation.

Looking the part: literally everyone on The Good Wife

I am currently in the market for a Corporate Fairy Godmother, and I would like, if possible, for Alicia Florrick to fill this vacancy. Or Diane Lockhart. Either will do. This is partly to do with the fact that I want them to share with me all of their wisdom and insights relating to being Kick-Ass Women In High-Powered Jobs, and partly because I think that if anyone could wave a wand and majestically transform my H&M jumper and jeans into a classy Hugo Boss suit and blouse combo/devastatingly sophisticated Etro dress, it would be Alicia or Diane. In fact, everyone on The Good Wife looks so fabulous that it may as well be renamed The Good Wardrobe, and from this we can deduce the following: 1) It is important to look the part, so dress well for interviews, and 2) Maybe if I get a good job, my hair will miraculously become more voluminous.



'That's why her hair is so big. It's full of corporate insights.'

‘That’s why her hair is so big. It’s full of corporate insights.’















Commercial awareness: the Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders returned last week, and in Episode One we learned that our favourite razor-capped, dubiously-moralled brummie gang were looking to expand to London. We were flies on the wall as Tommy et al discussed the implications of the move on the family business. These people had clearly done their research. Tommy new all about the current political and economic landscape in the capital (apparently the Jews and Italians aren’t too keen on each other), and Esme exhibited remarkable insight when she proclaimed that London meant ‘smoke and trouble’. We can learn two things from this: 1) Commercial awareness is key to a successful business application, and 2) Maybe we aren’t that keen to move to London after all.

CV points: Cilla

By the end of the first episode of ITV’s cosy biopic Cilla, we’d already seen our Scouse heroine excel in typing, experiment as a hair stylist and belt her heart out in the Cavern Club, accompanied by the Beatles. This is a girl who clearly understands the value of work experience – and the importance of networking.

'Did someone say transferable skills?'

‘Did someone say transferable skills?’

Conclusion: TV is a valuable resource when it comes to the graduate job hunt. Now back to the application forms. (And maybe some more West Wing…)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: