Graduates are beginning to suffer the effects of the recession as they compete for employment in an increasingly shrinking job market.
According to a survey of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), half of all firms will not be looking to hire graduates or school-leavers this year.
Over the next few months we'll be following three graduates in their quest to find employment. Here is the first instalment of their diaries.
ALISON BATTISBY, 22, JOURNALISM, LONDON
The course I am doing used to have a 100% employment rate. By this time last year, every student would have secured a job. This year only six out of 39 have jobs in place and it's not looking hopeful for the rest of us.
Many people did the course in order to secure good jobs in journalism. We were told that our predecessors found employed by various newspapers and broadcasters - it sounded like a job was guaranteed upon graduation.
But nobody saw the recession coming.
News organisations have shed many jobs and no-one is taking on new staff. Most positions that are advertised are senior roles which require years of experience. It is very frustrating - I'd much rather be working on a low pay, than receiving a jobseeker's allowance.
Many of my friends are leaving the UK for a while - to travel or to look for work. I am seriously thinking about this myself.
Another option would be to work for free as an intern for a while until the industry starts employing again.
I have a two-week internship coming up at the Press Gazette. After that I am off to Glastonbury to forget my troubles and celebrate finishing my course.
I am really scared about what's going to happen after that. I've been applying for lots of jobs every day, so hopefully something will come up.
Many of my friends are leaving the UK for a while - to travel or to look for work. I am seriously thinking about this myself
CHRIS MEAD, 22, EUROPEAN STUDIES, OXFORD
I am finishing a masters degree in European Studies at Maastricht University. I decided to study abroad as I couldn't afford it in the UK. Education in the Netherlands is subsidised and is much cheaper than in Britain.
Many graduates face uncertain job prospects
It's a very bad time to graduate. Despite being highly qualified, my job prospects are frighteningly low. I have been submitting applications since early March but nothing has come up yet.
I am hoping to get into public administration one day. I see myself starting in local government in the foreseeable future and eventually going into the civil service.
For the moment though, I am just applying for anything since the job market is shrinking. I'd rather be doing any work than just waiting for the ideal job to come along.
Even so, it is looking more and more likely that I'll have to sign on for jobseeker's allowance when I return to the UK. This isn't anything new though. I had the same trouble finding work after finishing my BA course.
The lack of choice is certainly more noticeable this time round. This was a big reason for attempting an MA in the first place - to try and distinguish my qualifications a bit more.
Whit so many graduates entering employment at once, the job market seems to get thinner every year, and having a choice becomes a luxury.
I have heard similar stories from friends across Europe, many of whom will be going back to student jobs or will be competing for unpaid internships.
MARK MELEADY, 22, LAW AND POLITICS, SWANSEA
I have spent five years at Swansea university studying law and politics. I chose to study law and politics because this is what I am passionate about and I want to work in these fields. It is very frustrating to have put so much effort into education that I cannot put into practice.
Ideally I would get a training contract but this seems closer to a dream than reality. The recession has had its positive side - previously I was so fixed on the legal career path that I considered very little else. However, the lack of jobs has caused me to consider other options.
I am used to having something to occupy my brain, and the thought of being unemployed is somewhat daunting
The job hunting has moved from hopes to needs - I have bills and rent to pay. I have also been in education for five years and am used to having something to occupy my brain and the thought of being unemployed is somewhat daunting.
It's been suggested that I offer my services for free but this is not a viable option for me. I draw little comfort from this approach, as there is no guarantee that I'll be offered employment at the end of the day.
Many of my friends graduated a couple of years ago. They all got jobs immediately afterwards or had jobs lined up before graduating.
I don't know if this was because there were more opportunities or fewer graduates applying for them, but recent redundancies have meant that the pool of applicants has widened, including those offering experience in addition to qualifications.
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