Adviser on the Edge

careers in island communities: research, theory and practice

Older siblings and graduate transitions

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How prepared are graduates for entry to the working world? Do expectations meet reality? In my experience the answer almost universally to these questions is not very prepared and that expectations don’t meet reality. I was discussing this with a recent graduate this week over coffee, and we were talking about how to address these issues. What we concluded was that knowing people who graduate before you can be helpful in giving first hand insight into the realities of the working world. Specifically we thought that there could be particular value in having an older sibling who graduates and enters the working world a couple of years before you. I hadn’t really thought about this before, but I guess it’s probably true that the experience of observing the progress of older siblings can be very helpful in understanding your own situation when it comes to preparing for graduation….

This thought came back to me today as I was reading about graduate migration in a paper by Bond, Charsley & Grundy, 2008. In this paper the authors propose three factors for understanding migration: Opportunities (in terms of perceived opportunities for graduate level employment), Connections (to different places through friends and family etc) and Expectations (in terms of anticipated futures). This got me thinking… I haven’t seen it spelt out like this before, but connections are very important. Often when I’m working with students who are thinking about moving, they are anxious about setting up in a new place, and often this process is made a lot easier if there is someone they can stay with while they get on their feet. And this was when I suddenly wondered again – are older siblings particularly important in this respect too? In Bond et al’s report one of the quotes they use is from someone who decided to move to London because his brother was living there, and I thought about my younger brother who when he moved to London, initially lived with my other brother too… perhaps there is a particular avenue for research on the role of older siblings and graduate transitions?

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