The description below is a composite; to preserve anonymity and to respect confidentiality, it's based on more than one person. But it's all true (as far as one person's perceptions can ever be true) and describes the best of all possible students about to graduate into the worst economic circumstances in living memory. As you'll see, the gender references are deliberate; a typical university graduate is now female.
This model graduate is:
Hard working: She works hard on university assignments, but that's the least of it. She's also paying her way through university by working long hours as a waitress. She then fits in carefully-chosen unpaid work in order to build her CV and portfolio.
Ambitious: She chose a vocational degree because she's ambitious. Though she knows where she'd like to end up, she has an open mind about how best to get there, and assumes she'll need in-house and consultancy experience, and to have worked in the public and private sectors.
Experienced: She took a gap year before coming to university and chose the option of a full-year placement. Though still young, she has more work experience and a more rounded view of life than most new graduates.
Family-oriented: She may be the first in her family to gain a degree and knows that her parents have made sacrifices to help her get this far. This fuels her ambition. On the downside, though, she accepts that it will be hard to combine a career with having her own family. It may also be hard for her to remain in a long-term relatonship: as popular literature and film shows, there are more 'fabulous females' than 'marriageable men' in most adult age groups.
Fearless: She communicates well with people regardless of their age, gender or status. Though star-struck, she held it together when meeting an iconic global celebrity, so presenting to chief executives is a routine matter for her.
Next year will be a difficult one for new graduates, but my model graduate is better than – and cheaper than – many incumbents. Smart employers will be quick to snap her up.