Sophie sat in the waiting room before her interview, the whirr of the air conditioning making her nervous. The receptionist keeps glancing at her, and the synthetic leather of the chair she has been asked to sit down on is causing her to sweat. Three years she had studied at university. She had studied in lecture halls, in libraries, and in her drafty room, rain or shine. She had read innumerable books, legal precedents, attended entire days of lectures, and yet she felt very strongly that she had no idea what she had been trained to do.
The interview went well. She got the job, and started a few weeks later. On her first Monday morning she booted up her computer and her manager asked her to write a due diligence report on a potential client with which the company was dealing with. She spent the day working on it, but found that a large portion of her day consisted of searching for more information on precisely what a ‘due diligence report’ was, and how one might go about writing one. At five o’clock, she emailed the report over to her manager. She left her desk to get a coffee, and returned to find that her manager had replied. The email began ‘Hi Sarah, Thanks for your last. This isn’t exactly what I meant when I said due diligence…’
On the bus home she felt anxious again, and the passenger opposite kept glancing at her, just as the receptionist had done. She began to question herself. She started to wonder whether she had learned anything at all from the last three years of higher education. She had the qualification, she thought, but it seemed she didn’t have the skills. It struck her as odd that having one did not necessitate the other. Why do universities not teach the skills needed in the professional world? Then again, she thought, how are universities even supposed to know what skills their students require if they don’t know what skills their future employers need?