“Just get a shop job or something!”
This is a sentence that us struggling graduates seem to hear a lot. But in my opinion it’s more than a little rude to the people who work 45-hour weeks in retail, never get a weekend off and have to deal with the general public on a daily basis. A ‘shop job’ is not just a ‘shop job’, and it’s certainly not an easy option. Just because I have a degree (which, I might add, has NOTHING to do with retail and actually will not aid me a huge amount slash at all, especially compared to other workers who’ve been in retail since the age of 16 or 17) that doesn’t mean I can somehow breeze through and find myself a job in John Lewis at the drop of a hat. Funnily enough, since writing Part 1 I have managed to get myself a job in a department store, and it was no easy feat. One interview, then a call-back, then another interview with a role play…in fact, the interviews I went through to secure this job were actually more intense than any of the degree-related interviews I’ve attended.
“Ah, you’ll never get into *insert competitive job field here* the way things are at the moment. Find yourself something more realistic”
My friend Brittany, who wants to be a psychologist, is often given this spiel. But as she says, if everyone who ever wanted to get into something competitive decided it was too competitive, no-one would ever get into it at all! There’s being realistic and there’s just being plain defeatist and giving up before even giving something a go. Just because things are tough at the moment, that doesn’t mean we should all abandon our lifelong hopes and dreams – we might just have to put them on hold for a while.
“So, how long have you been finished for now?”
Roughly translated, this means “I’m sure we had this conversation last year – what have you been doing for the last twelve months if you’ve not been employed?”. Well. Let me tell you, pal. I’ve been for so many job interviews I’ve lost count of how many I’ve attended and how much money I’ve spent on train fare. I’ve heard the words “…just not quite enough experience” a hell of a lot. I’ve dived further into my overdraft than when I was at university as a result of unpaid internships and working for free. Most of all, I’ve been wishing that people would understand that ‘not having a job’ doesn’t equal ‘sitting at home, not actually trying to get a job’.
“Don’t bother with those internships, anything that doesn’t pay you is a bit of a con, isn’t it?”
Sigh. If only I was in the position to be demanding money for my services, but sadly I’m not. I’ve got a high 2:1, work experience at the BBC, a magazine and a publisher, a good work ethic and a friendly personality and STILL I am somehow unemployable. This is just the way things are at the moment, and as frustrating it is to not be paid, gaining knowledge through internships and unpaid work is literally the only way to put the experience we so desperately need onto our CVs.
How is everyone else getting on? I realise I am directly contradicting Part 1 of this article by even considering asking you this question but I’m interested and I hope you don’t mind…