Graduate unemployment, meningitis, Behcet’s and me

Darius McQuaid
graduation getty 300x225 Graduate unemployment, meningitis, Behcets and me


Last July I graduated from York University, a highly respected institution, after studying history. Despite this I have been unable to secure a job for a whole year now. I feel like I have applied for every single type of job there is, jobs at cinemas, off licences and clothes stores.

The reason I feel I am not getting a job is not because of my lack of qualifications, I’ve had similar jobs in the past but because there is so much competition. According to the online recruitment resource Onrec, there are now 18 applications per job, up from 17 in the second quarter of 2012. They go further to say that London has seen a sharp drop in jobs, as finance dries up, despite the Olympics effect.

A graduate friend of mine works in administration at Guys hospital in London, one of his colleagues is an Oxford graduate and it seems like a huge waste of their talents in a job like that. I am not saying Guys hospital is a terrible place to work at, I have had first-hand experience of the hospital and it is a highly regarded medical centre. However, Oxford graduates have in some cases in the past gone on to become Prime Ministers of this country.

With the vast majority of graduates getting fairly low level jobs and the rise in tuition fees, is there really any motivation to go to university? Are we simply delaying the inevitable because we know that we won’t have any real chances of work for another three or four years?

My personal challenge to find work has an added dimension, this past year I have suffered from viral meningitis and have been diagnosed with Behçet’s disease, a rare illness which causes inflammation of small blood vessels to swell and causes your immune system to become over-active. Only 0.03% of people in the UK have, Behçet’s so I am definitely in the minority. The real problem with this illness is its rarity and it is hard for people to comprehend what I am going through.

In order to combat Behcet’s I started treatment with 20 various tablets a day. Fortunately, this has decreased considerably over the past six months. The combination of Behçet’s and medication has had an effect on me. Also, my recovery from meningitis was long and not easy, physically I was debilitated and needed a lot of help and support from my parents.

The chances of me getting a job at the moment are pretty low as most people who meet me for the first time think there is something wrong with me, or that I’ve enjoyed one too many drinks. With the medication I’m on I am only allowed to consume two units anyway. This illness has been incredibly frustrating as I only want people to give me a chance but they automatically assume something is wrong and to be perfectly honest with them I don’t blame them. After all, if my friends and family think I am no longer operating at one hundred per cent efficiency, how can I expect complete strangers to consider me for a job?

Due to these two illnesses I have found it incredibly difficult to get a job. I have now recovered from meningitis but unfortunately the after effects have left me with incredibly slurred speech. I went to an interview a couple of weeks ago and during it they thought I was drunk. I find it a lot harder to be myself as both my family and friends have said they have noticed a difference. Thankfully I’m steadily improving, and my friends feel that I’m getting back to the old Darius but I’m not there yet.

My confidence has definitely been shaken, as at the age of 16 I was able to get jobs, however, now as a 22-year-old graduate I do not seem to be an attractive option. I am lucky enough to have a journalism post grad set up at Sheffield University, which to be honest takes a great deal of pressure off me. However, without this achievement I would be feeling pretty hollow right now.

For more information about Behçet’s disease go to

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  • Robert Pleticha

    Hi Darius, I appreciate you sharing your struggle and realize how frustrating trying to manage Behcet’s can be with all the different medications. To connect with others living in the UK and beyond with Behcet’s visit The community was created by Behcet’s UK and other patient groups, hope you are finding some support and information from them as well.

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