I was working as a barmaid and part time administrator at an accountancy firm in a tiny village up t’north when I decided, aged 19 that I wanted more. Now, if I’m honest, it was probably a little ambition, and a little sense of adventure that led me to this decision. But mainly, it was the prospect of having to spend the rest of my working days chatting to accountants that put me on the next train to reach the bright lights of
. Anyway, off I went, to get a degree and a more fulfilling career, and that’s what I did. Well, the degree part at least. And I think I did alright; a 2:1 BA Hons in English Literature and Philosophy, a degree choice which I was advised would ‘equip me with analytical skills applicable in the workplace’, the proof employers needed that I was ‘motivated and able to work to strict deadlines’ and that ‘English is a desirable subject when applying for job’. Blah blah blah. Bristol
Well, what I have achieved, unlike most of my university buddies, is hanging onto my flat in
(by the skin of my teeth, mind) rather than being forced by the substantial debt I have accrued to return home to live with mummy and daddy. But, a year after completing my course, the career part has yet to materialise. And it’s not though lack of trying, I promise you. Admittedly, I was unsure of exactly what I wanted to do when I finished Uni, but I knew I wanted to work in the media. And I went on a mission to get some experience. I did the unpaid placements around the bar job, the 5am starts helping out on radio breakfast shows, the shadowing of news reporters, noting and emulating their every move, and I really enjoyed it. Not as much as I would had they been paying me a handsome fee obviously, but I enjoyed the pursuit of the dream and the feeling of working toward something. When I got short of cash, I did office temp work in the day, and kept the bar job at night, but of late, even that work has dried up. I now find myself grovelling for the kind of jobs I want amidst a sea of other graduates, most from better universities (I went to UWE, god bless ‘em) who apparently have the edge in some way – a masters, a PHd, and more often than not, a father who either knows someone in the business, or from whose company afore mentioned graduate has gained ‘valuable work experience’ before applying for the post – whilst their living costs have been provided for by Daddy of course. It seems that to a great extent, higher education is still better suited to the rich after all. Bristol
So, not one to be unrealistic about the situation, I decided that to afford to stay in the lovely city of
, I would go back to what I know. I know my office admin. I can seat people in meetings. I can order stationary, and damn it, I can make a bloody good cup of tea. So apply I did. To many, many such positions, and got through to a fair few interviews. But what came up at each and every interview? ‘So, you did a degree, you obviously don’t really want to be doing admin. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ My God! What do these people want?! I found myself becoming like a needy girlfriend. ‘I see myself with you! I love your company! Nothing thrills me more than the prospect of cold calling/a well organised filing cabinet/an up to date client database! And I must admit, every time I get rejected from a position I didn’t really want in the first place, a little more of the dream dies. Not to mention the ever growing fear that the repo man are coming for the telly, or my landlord may start collecting limbs in place of the (once again) late rent. I find myself beginning to be pleased if I receive a rejection by post. I mean, at least they took time to do more than forward the obligatory email template – ‘I’m sorry, due to the high calibre of applicants…’ and ending ‘N.B due to the high number of applicants, we cannot give individual feedback’. Well, ta very much. Or worse still, after two rounds of interviews, no reply at all. This is when you start to ponder. To really doubt yourself. And here come the niggling questions… ‘why didn’t they call/I thought they liked me/was I too keen/maybe I wasn’t keen enough/am I really that bad?! And there’s that needy girlfriend again. Bristol
It seems the only jobs available at the moment are recruitment consultant jobs. The market is awash with them, geared at graduates. ‘Are you commercially aware?’ they ask. ‘Do you have charisma? Then this is for you!’ Obviously, what they mean by charisma is, are you suitably lacking in soul and moral integrity to take a job which involves lying to your fellow graduates about the possibility of getting a good job. But hey, the money is good, and yes, I admit I’ve applied. I’m not sure however, whether the prospect of scraping by on minimum wage at the pub is any worse than actually landing a recruitment consultant position. Come back accountants, all is forgiven! At least you know where you are with accountants, even if where you are is considering a hardcore drink problem just to make the prospect of engaging in conversation more interesting.
On the upside however, at least I am qualified to philosophical about the whole matter, and I have the necessary skills in written English to write a rant about it. And where better to talk deep, meaningful philosophy than to drunk customers down the pub. I mean, we’re all pretty philosophical after a few gins, right? On second thought, maybe I have found my calling after all.