The Artichoke Society is the organisation for fulfilling, socially beneficial graduate careers. Our mission is to inspire and support students thinking about their career and to investigate the graduate labour market.
Marina Keegan We were inspired by Marina Keegan's Yale Daily News article 'Even artichokes have doubts', published in 2011, and received the support of the Artichoke Fund, founded by a group of Yale alumni in Keegan's memory. We felt that many of the issues explored in 'Even artichokes have doubts' among American students were just as widespread in UK universities, particularly at the LSE, and sought to create a network of like-minded students to bring about positive change.
Keegan was a Yale senior with a talent for journalism, who was expecting to take up a position at the New Yorker magazine upon graduating, but died tragically in a car accident soon after her article gained widespread coverage. Her piece was an attempt to understand why so many talented students, once full of inspiring ambitions, turned to financial and consulting careers. Her conclusions - that young people rarely aspired to these careers but fell into them through convenience, cultural expectation and a need for validation - struck a chord with many. The article has been reprinted in the New York Times and elsewhere. A collection of articles by Keegan has recently been published as a widely praised book.
There has been increased interest in students' career decisions since Keegan's article and further discussion of the pressure on graduates to follow an expected career path, particularly in the US. In 2014, New York magazine writer Kevin Roose published 'Young Money', an investigation of Wall Street firms' successes in hiring bright graduates; Roose found that students were attracted by investment banks' polished, well-funded recruitment strategies and that young people perceived a career in investment banking as being relatively low risk while endowing them with credibility. Michael Gibson explored the 'path' phenomenon among Ivy League graduates in a 2014 Forbes article.
There has been less understanding or exploration of these issues in the UK, but it is clear that the same problems exist. The LSE, where students are perhaps even more susceptible to financial and consulting firms' tactics than elsewhere because of the focus on social sciences, has developed a reputation as a 'finishing school' for investment bankers.
Founded on the principle of the betterment of society, and once a centre of student activism, the LSE has, like Yale, become a key target for financial and consulting firms' recruiting teams. Indeed, in 2012/13, 34 per cent of graduates were employed in the banking, finance, accounting or consulting sector six months after graduating. According to the UK Graduate Careers Survey, in 2012, 41 per cent of students in their final year had applied for careers in investment banking and 26 per cent had applied for careers in management consulting.
Our research suggests that this data rarely reflects students' true aspirations, and we aim to ensure students are aware of all of the careers and paths available to them. We are not prescriptive, and recognise that too often students are exposed to the industries and sectors with the most resources and ability to advertise successfully. This leads to our brightest making decisions of convenience, rather than of passion.
We continue to be based at the LSE but our membership extends to students from around the world. Our focus is on researching students' career aspirations and opportunities, as well as providing resources to aid graduates making career choices. Our emphasis is on inspiring students by highlighting the stories of graduates who have successfully pursued an alternative path.
This is the national website for the Artichoke Society. Are you a student in London? Visit our dedicated pages. Are you a student at another university? Please contact us for more information.