As I stare into the never-ending nothingness that is finding-a-job-after-uni, there’s a large part of me that is filled with a substantial amount of regret; why didn’t I do a trade? I feel this way for a number of reasons.

1. I genuinely hate homework

Do you love homework? Doubt it. I can’t stress enough how much work-at-home plays into a university degree. Initially, I thought I had won the lottery when I threw together my timetable for the first time. Only ten hours a week worth of classes? Sign me up! But behind the curtain, there is a reason why being a university student is a full-time ordeal. Unbeknownst to me, it meant was that around 85% of my work would be done at home instead of face-to-face.

So, if you’re like me and would rather sit in your room and stare at a wall than pick up and flick through a textbook, then you might struggle at uni. Especially since during the semester, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the middle of exam period or taking a moment to catch up on the latest Netflix series, you will never not be at uni and all the work you have to do will constantly be at the back of your mind.

2. Landing a gig would be easier

In Australia, we’re facing a skill-shortage of monumental proportions. Tradies are struggling to find younger apprentices to train and get qualified. On the other side of that coin, Australia has an excess of university degrees, meaning it’s harder and harder for graduates to find even entry-level positions once they’ve finished studying. A report published by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) shows that landing a full-time gig after finishing full-time study takes an average of 4.7 years.

If I had done an apprenticeship and learnt a trade, I wouldn’t be in this position of sending out my resumes to companies I don’t care about so that I can stop wallowing around in my mother’s house carrying my student debt on my back.

3. An apprenticeship gives you a legit qualification

You’ve got a thing. You enjoy the thing. You know you want to do the thing for your career. Do you want to learn how to do the thing? Sometimes, uni isn’t the best way to do this.

Looking back at my studies, I laugh at how naïve I was to think that a Bachelor of Communication in Advertising was going to teach me how to handle the Big Bad World. I thought I was going to learn the ins-and-outs of how the world of advertising works and have my own four-walled office with my whiskey on-the-rocks at 10am and be just like Don Draper… but just as Roger Sterling said, at some point, we’ve all parked in the wrong garage.

Do I regret my time at uni? Not entirely. I was chosen to go to Melbourne for an industry visit to a few agencies and publishers, I studied in Malaysia and Singapore and I was lucky enough to be selected for an internship with an advertising agency. All pretty cool shit that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I didn’t go to uni.

But at the end of the day I walked out of there with a piece of paper saying I had studied, Advertising, not one that said I could now legally do it. 

4. Uni is expensive

This one’s a real kick in the pants. There’s a pretty fucking good reason there’s a student discount at the movies- making ends meet when you’re a student is tough. Real tough.

I’ll never forget having a conversation with my cousin who had been studying hairdressing for a number of years. She asked me, ‘do you get paid to go to uni?’

Not only do you absolutely not get paid, but going to uni costs a shit load, from your actual HECS debt to textbooks and unpaid pracs.

But, if you do a traineeship or apprenticeship, you can be one of the lucky ones that earns cash whilst simultaneously getting qualified. Doing a trade can really lay the bricks and mortar (pun intended) for your future without leaving you under a mountain of debt and mi goreng noodles.

For all its faults, none of us are uni-haters; it definitely has its place. There’s careers that you need to go to uni for, like teaching and medicine and there’s no way around it. Some of us just genuinely love learning in that kind of way, and others want to know everything there is to know about something. But, if you’re like me and want something a bit more hands-on in your future, I’d say, at the very least, explore what’s out there and figure out which qualification is best for you. Maybe doing a trade could be on the cards.

by Bradley McDowell