28 December 2011

And The Winner Is

If there was a competition, or better still, a job application which called for the best and busiest Christmas ever, my family would definitely have it in the bag. 100%. The advertisement might say something along the lines of:

Applicants must have at least twenty people over for Christmas Day lunch and Boxing Day. (Score - we had 23, not to mention those who dropped in for a while for a bit of bubbly. Hence every chair in the house being used, plus step ladders and the inability to move from the table, even if quite desperate for the loo).

The noise within in the house must be well above average. (Point for us again - There were certain moments, especially when crammed into the front room attempting to open presents all at once, when even shouting was futile. In fact, I'm sure the neighbours thought we were having some kind of raucous party instead of simply opening pressies by the tree).

The amount of food made and consumed must be ridiculous. (Win - My mum and I made so much food for boxing day that we didn't even begin to touch two of the dishes. There were seconds, and thirds, and even fourths for some but still we have a fridge and freezer full of amazing food waiting to be eaten. We had 23 people round but we must have literally made enough food for over 50).

Every room in the house must be decorated. (Right now, my house is a Christmas wonderland. Complete with a colour coordinated green and silver Christmas tree, flashing lights all the way down the hallway, a mirror ball in the dining room and hanging gingerbread men in the kitchen, it is a magical party house.)

Added to these points in my covering letter, I might state the fact that we were so busy cooking, eating and generally attempting to move around the house that we didn't get to watch any Christmas television at all. Similarly, to add an essence of cuteness, I might mention that we have an amazingly adorable, soft, happy little baby boy in the family now, who is only two months old and totally stole the spotlight. I think that might buy me a few brownie points from the recruiter! And lastly I would probably highlight the number of gifts exchanged, so many in fact, that some got lost. Whether in the piles of torn up wrapping paper or under a sofa somewhere, they are doomed never to be found again...a present lost in the Christmas Cosmos that is my family's festive season.

I love them all dearly and I wouldn't change a thing. If only we really could get some recognition for the hard work we all put into making our Christmas the best, busiest, loudest Christmas every year. I hope you all had a nice peaceful one just to keep things in balance.

24 December 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Hi guys. Apologies for the lack of posts lately. I have been a busy bee - working at the Olympia Horse Show serving very rich, often posh people hundreds of bottles of champagne and then buying Christmas pressies with all the marvellous tips I earned from doing so. Seriously, it shows you just how much money these people have when they order drinks at over £500 and have paid for their boxes at over £5000 and then give me a £60 tip! Anyway, it made my Christmas time because I was able to get the people I love some good presents, as supposed to a shoddy attempt at a handmade one - I'm really not that creative.

Anyway, before I rush off to help my poor mum finish preparation for boxing day lunch (yes, boxing day, not even tomorrow) and then skip to the local for a cheeky Christmas Eve pint, I would like to wish you all a VERY merry Christmas. Let's all forget about our tribulations and fill our heads with the smells of Christmas pud and mulled wine. Have a great few days.

X

5 December 2011

Reunion (Or Forgetting You Ever Left University)

My weekend pretending I was once again a student of Nottingham University was, to be oxymoronic, painfully fun. I arrived healthy, fit and ready for two days of student messiness. ("It's gonna be Lionel", as the guys say....took me rather a while to get this pun. What can I say, I just don't know enough about football). I left, however, with no voice, a broken shoe and a foot that was described rather too vividly as resembling a gammon joint. Student nightclub Ocean proved to be a little too much for this out-of-practice grad me thinks. Despite the fact I have black pumps without a sole on the right foot, am on antibiotics and sound rather like Leonard Cohen on an extra raspy day, I can say that it was actually, a spectacular weekend.
Living in the real world has been proving a bit too much for me and few of my graduated mates. The endless job applications, down hearteningly low wages and general lack of brain stimulation have left us pining for the student lifestyle once again.

Of course, when I was close to graduating I thought I had the whole world ahead of me. I couldn't wait to be earning and contributing, working and feeling grown up. The transition from uni lifestyle to real world routine can be difficult, especially if you don't feel much worth in your situation. Universities, especially personal tutors, need to prepare students more for this unexpected change. There are no cheap sports clubs or competitions any more and no regular social events with all your peers - it's very difficult to get everyone together at the same time and place these days. Alongside getting us prepared for finals, tutors need to be pushing us to start applying for jobs, work experience, grad schemes, anything that will help set us up for the after-life. I know these are the kind of things I'll be telling all my younger relatives to do.

Life seemed so much simpler when we could live in our pyjamas and eat pizza in the library at 2am. Nevertheless, the show that is our lives must, and will, go on. Despite reminding me of what I am missing, this weekend also showed me that we are all, mostly, in the same position and no matter what is happening in life, we will always have an amazing group of friends to share our woes with over rum and orange juice -or whatever other strange student drink we choose. Cheers!

29 November 2011

Lets All Go Abroad

As the UK job market still struggles to find enough jobs for the young, many recent graduates are looking abroad for work. While my Twitter page (https://twitter.com/#!/GutsyGrad) jokingly suggested that we should all move to Monaco, who, according to Wikipedia anyway, have a 0% rate of unemployment, I suddenly realised that maybe it wasn't such a joke of an idea. OK, so Monaco only has a population of around 34, 000 people, making it the second smallest country in the world but brush up on my French and maybe they'll accept me.

Jokes aside, China is supposed to be big on taking well educated English grads, and the US seems to have far more grad schemes than over here. Hopefully Clegg's new £1 billion fund to tackle youth employment will help - although it means registering as unemployed for three months before they will help you out. What I want to know is...do I count as unemployed? I am waitressing, but it's not the kind of wage anyone can actually live off independently... unless they eat and drink nothing but bread and water and stay at a homeless shelter anyway.

Seems like it might be easier to look abroad after all, and gazing outside my window at the grey London sky and howling wind, I could do with a change of scenery. A quick browse on www.indeed.com, a jobs website, showed up at least ten editorial assistant jobs available in New York and over ten in Boston. Many of them for big publishing companies such as Random House and Penguin Books, or great lifestyle magazines.  I know America and countless other countries are having economic and employment problems too - but there seem to be quite a lot more jobs going out there.

For now I shall have to wait for replies to the jobs I've applied for here in the last few days. Fingers crossed they will at least get back to me for interviews. Otherwise, the possibility of me either going the homeless-shelter-bread-and-water route or moving to a whole new continent seem like my only options.

21 November 2011

Jobs, Jobs and No Jobs

Sympathetic Liberal: 1.2 million 16-24 years old out of work. Blame the government.
Unsympathetic Employed Person: No blame the grads...there are plenty of job opportunities. They need to stop being so proud and take anything they can get.
Angry School Leaver: Hold on. Don't take our jobs. Grads should leave the unskilled work for us, we need it more.

...So the debate goes at the moment. Infuriatingly, this is the vicious cycle we are stuck in. I think it's a case of 'can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em' syndrome, whereby graduates are being blamed for their own woe as well as the woe of countless others. A Metro reader (yes, I know, a highly valuable source) wrote in the other day with another good point. Did we not take a degree in order to make sure we didn't get stuck in a dead end, low-skilled job? I know for a fact that that is what the majority of my £16, 000 loan was begrudgingly handed over in aid of. That and a library card. So leave us poor overly qualified young people alone! We are simply trying to get what were promised all along; a skilled job, decent wage and maybe one day an affordable one bedroom flat.

I'm sure there are some lazy buggers out there, people who think that joining up to the Guardian Jobs Website from bed  is enough effort for one day, but I most certainly am not one of them. I had a meeting with a recruitment firm today for the position of PA/publishing assistant. When I saw the advert my heart leapt and I thought I had found my calling... It was an entry level graduate role with a professional publishing company. But when I got there, the lady told me that I was basically overqualified for it and it was more of an administrative job than an editorial one. So here's me attempting to apply for a low level job in publishing, and I'm being told I might be too good for it and get bored! In fairness she has a point, but really, there are just no other jobs available at the moment.

So it's back to the drawing board. I've applied for another job today which is actually advertised as editorial assistant, which I'm sure they will say that I am under-qualified for. There's just no winning. For the rest of this week I'll be back in my black and white uniform with my waiters friend, scraping up people's food again. Random House already seems so far away. Sigh. If there's a time in life when I really feel like I need a handout, it's now.

10 November 2011

To Heaven Via Hell

There are two hours of my day which I absolutely cannot stand. I hate them more than boiled eggs. And anyone who knows me, knows that that particular hatred runs deep. They are not the hours where I wake up, groggy and delirious, nor are they the ones where I start to get very very tired eyes and the latest best selling novel starts to look like a series of squiggly lines. Nope, they are in fact rush hour - one hour there, and one hour back. For any Londoner (and I'm sure it's similar in other cities too) who works normal hours, there is no getting away from the hell that is the peak time London tube system.

 I love our tube system normally. On a weekend, at say 3pm anyway. It gets me from A to B quickly and easily. Well, that is unless there is a signal problem, or a leaf on the tracks, or a passenger alarm, or a station evacuation, or a fire, or a flood, or a strike, or engineering works.
 Let me walk you through my worst commute this week.

Walk from my house to the station in the pouring rain without an umbrella because everyone else has already nicked them. Get oggled and wooped at by a group of overly friendly builders who tell me to 'cheer up luv'. Thanks, yeah, I'm feeling so much better all of a sudden. Realise I have no money on my oyster card and so join the queue full of disgruntled commuters to top-up, only to find that the machine is not taking coins. Damn. Queue in other queue. Get to platform and think, my, this is even more crowded than normal. Followed by the announcement, "ladies and gentlemen, there are severe delays on the Central Line due to a series of passenger alarms being set off at St. Paul's and a signal failure at Bank." Even better. Time to go home and give up yet? Finally get on moving train which stops before entering every station and is so packed that I can either choose between having my face in smelly breath man's direction, or my backside on his crotch. Definitely the face one. Move down towards the seats and await a lucky seated person to get off and give me their seat, but alas, a seat grabber is around who pushes past me before I even notice someone standing up and sits his large contented bum down. His actions are followed by lots of scowling from me, which I pretend he notices while he reads the latest Lee Child on his Kindle. Finally arrive at destination, not having sat down, and get herded out of the station by the crowds into the bright light of day. Aarrrhhh, sweet sweet fresh air...and rain. Of course.

The Random House offices seem to glow before me. So air conditioned and full of space. Finally, I have reached my destination, even if I did have to go through hell to get there. 

7 November 2011

Respect!

Could it be so? Am I truly being taken seriously as a mature person in the world of work? Behold the day! I adore you, Random House, your quiet clean offices, your shelves full of new books and your cheery intelligent staff... not to mention the kitchen area where I can drink tea to my heart's content.

Today I have been given manuscripts of novels which will either be published soon or need to be read in order to see whether they are publishable at all and have started to write a synopsis of them. I could feel myself almost smiling at my desk; to be reading and to be writing...What more could I want? Plus, I feel a little bit special because I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before I started (how MI5!) so there will be no previews for you guys I'm afraid.

I, of course, also had to do some photocopying, which I was more than happy to do, probably due to my weird fascination with photocopiers. And not one single person asked me to make the tea. I even offered and got refused. It seems like Random House really want to help work experience-ers to get on in the world, and that they believe that we can help them too. It is amazing how feeling useful can motivate you and improve your mood tenfold. I have forgotten the fact that I am totally penniless for now and I am greatly looking forward to the rest of my two week placement. No attempting to hold hugely heavy trays, no calling people maam and sir and no scraping cold food off plates for two weeks. Yippee!

1 November 2011

Thailand Floods and I Lose a Job Placement

Not a good day for the world. As the Thai people are in the throes of the worst flooding they have had in half a century, I have found that even lowly little old me has been affected by their plight. Not to compare our situations in any way whatsoever, I'm not that egocentric. But long story short, I won't be returning to the Daily Mail because the lady whose pages I was meant to be overseeing can't get to Thailand any more.

They do say however, that the world works in mysterious ways and not saying that the Thai floods happened in order to show me my path in life (that would be highly twisted, and yes, I do realise that I am not Noah), but this whole mess seems to have opened up a door for me. I have managed to keep my options fairly open and have got back in touch with Random House who offered me work experience at the same time as the stint at the Daily Mail. I originally had to turn them down because of the clash but thank God, they still want me. Phew! So from next week I'll be editing my way through future publications with any luck.

I also have been sent an email from the staffing agency telling me I am now part of their Star Team and they are giving me a 25p per hour pay rise for all my shifts from now on. The term Star Team reminds me of the sticker charts I had in my first year of school, except instead of winning a certificate I get enough extra pay per shift to buy a pint at the pub on Friday. My how I've grown up! Kind as it is of them, I will still be earning less than at my previous part time job but beggars most certainly cannot be choosers.

Even though this means that I will still be pretty much broke for another two weeks, I am slowly gaining a steady list of experience for my CV which I will, one day, send to my future employer, whoever that may be, and which they will look upon with awe and excitement.

My love goes out to everyone in Thailand who is being affected by the floods; I hope your beautiful country and wonderful people pull through. P.S. you are my favourite country in the world and your Khao Soy is like heaven. Stay strong.

27 October 2011

Rule Number Two

Never forget your end goal. This is a lesson I truly needed to remember today, especially after a minor breakdown in the kitchen clearing room. After serving a group of well-to-do young women (seriously, they can't have been much older than 27) and listening to one of them preach hearteningly to her colleagues about how you should always strive to be in a job which you enjoy and which fulfils you, and how you should never settle for anything less than you are worth, I had to leave the room asap. I felt a sudden urge to proclaim loudly that actually, this was not my job, just a way to bring in the cash, while simultaneously flinging a fork at her head and obliterating a red wine glass on the wall. Of course, she wasn't talking to, or about, me. And of course all I did, in humble slave mode, was walk into the kitchen and take a few huge breaths in order to hold back the flood gates.

The problem is, she was absolutely right. While I know that this job is necessary because I need the money and that I am doing relevant and essential work experience alongside it in order to get where I want to be, I still feel like I have taken a huge step backwards in life. A very special person made me realise however, that we must, in that most clichĂ© of phrases, keep our eyes on the prize. My prize sees me writing content for a fabulous magazine or website where I get to go on an emotional rampage. Hang on...maybe I'm already doing that?!

26 October 2011

Rule Number One

The first rule of being an unemployed graduate? Do NOT under any circumstances, especially when you're feeling like a hopeless basket case, start facebook stalking your university friends. While some of them may well be in the same position as you, many more of them will be wildly exclaiming their joyous first day at a top London PR company or bank, unaware of the devastating effect they are having on your already deflated sense of self worth. Firstly, yes I do realise this is a contradiction on my last post which exclaimed the fact that we are not alone, and secondly I also realise that I am beginning to sound rather jealous. I cannot deny either fact and so I shall just have to rebuild my self esteem with a deep crust cheese pizza (which never cooks properly in the middle but always, without fail, burns on the outside).

Enough of the self deprecation, it's always onwards and upwards. As they say, it can only get better, and besides, I have decided that if it gets any worse I might resort to sending in an application to Britain's Got Talent to showcase my now spectacular waitressing skills.

19 October 2011

You Are Not Alone

What I have learned from both writing this blog and from doing my waitressing jobs has essentially manifested itself into one key fact which I believe makes it all worth while...I am not alone. People have told me they have actually read all of my rants and also enjoyed them which makes me one very happy bunny. The reason I believe they have enjoyed them, apart from of course my excellent prose skills, is because they can relate the the situation I'm in. With close to 1 million 16-24 year olds out of work in the UK, it's hardly surprising.
The more people I meet at work, the more I realise that while we are all happy to be doing our job, and we do it damn well, most of us are overqualified to simply be serving tables. There are people with degrees in psychology,  engineering, English and languages who all deserve more than a job which is obviously classed as the pits due to the ridiculously low wage we receive and the way some waiting staff are treated.

Why, for instance, do male guests feel they have the right to be sexually overbearing with female waitresses? I've had all sorts. Take today, a rosy faced man decided it was quite OK for him to kiss me on the cheek with his grizzly face and port soaked breath. As a friend I would appreciate the sentiment but at work I would prefer a tip please! I've been thrown lewd comments, had my bum commented on, been handed a business card and even been asked out on a date. I wouldn't mind but I think a lot of these wealthy business men do it for a thrill - the underpaid waitress and the millionaire type scenario. All I know is that none of the women I've worked with have appreciated these situations.

There is hope however. Armed with our degrees, our CV and our blistering perseverance we shall vanquish the champagne drunkards and win over our bosses-to-be until we are the ones being served canapĂ©s at Claridges... and we will know our table manners.

18 October 2011

Star Employee!

Future employers take note! I am a star!


I received an excited email from the staffing agency I have been working for exclaiming the fact that my employer said I did an excellent job last week. It may just be for waitressing but it proves that even in the world of black and white uniform where we must all look and act the same I apparently was someone who stood out on the job. Phew, I was beginning to feel down-heartened that I would spend the rest of my limbo years flitting from job to job and never actually gaining any idea of whether or not I was of any use to the world at all.

Not that my aim is to work in this kind of job forever, but it's always nice to be noticed. Now I just need to get the same notice in my other parallel existence.

My time at the Daily Mail turned out to be exciting, and they are having me back to cover the lady who was showing me the ropes for her holidays in a few weeks time. Time to prove I am indeed a star in the office as well as the banquet hall me thinks. Now, I know that I should be paid for this, at least a temp wage, but I'm just not positive whether they will 100% be sorting this out. Definitely need to email her towards the end of the week (so I'm at the top of her mountain of emails when she returns) to make sure I will get at least something. As far as I'm aware, people don't work for free in this country. Oh, except we do.

When I say the Mail was exciting I mean two events stuck out for me. Firstly, upon calling Paul Smith's PR company to inquire as to whether they might email me a high res image of a cream jug (I know what you're thinking...how exciting!), I got the curt response of "Did you say you're from the Daily Mail?" Errrm, yes. "Oh, we don't actually deal with the Daily Mail any more, we don't feel they represent our image". Oh dear. Paul Smith really does not like the Mail.

Secondly, a group of angry protesters, mostly about my age stormed into the main courtyard, somehow managing to get past the burly security guard and the electronic doors. There was not a single person in the building who wasn't up from their desk and peering down from every floor to see what all the racket was. Unfortunately for the protesters, no one could actually hear or see what they were protesting about. After a bit of a scuffle with the security (or what looked like all two of them anyway), the police arrived and escorted them out. Turns out they were Syrians protesting about the media's silence on the plight of the Kurdish people. Funny how the mood of the office improved ten fold after this little disturbance. I hope the newsroom took note of their issues.

10 October 2011

Parallel Universes

It appears that my graduate limbo has split into two parallel universes, both of which I simultaneously inhabit and neither of which are alike in any way. Universe number one consists of me generally running round with a heavy tray (which has already increased the size of my biceps), polishing plates and glasses in a steamy kitchen and smiling graciously at very very drunk middle-aged men who insist on breathing their Veuve-Cliquot champagne breath right up my nose. While this job is earning me a wage, it is so minimal it might as well be a minus wage. For my shift at Claridges (one day I will walk through the FRONT door!) I had to buy a pencil skirt, tie, shirt and heeled shoes. They may well have been from Matalan but they also accumulated to £30, almost the exact amount I earned for the five hour shift.

Even the people hiring me think that I'm mental to do this job. Sergei, the suave Russian head of the waiting staff at Claridges was both overly pleased and astounded to have met a real English person working there, at one of the most English establishments in London! Now, I had a great time meeting all my fellow waiters and waitresses, but it did leave me wondering why on earth I was the only English person working there? Why are   foreigners having to take these low-paid jobs in hotels and what are all the other English people of my age and situation doing instead?

Perhaps they are simply settling for one universe? My parallel existence number two is very different.Today I completed my first day at the Daily Mail with the Weekend Magazine. The description my supervisor gave me was that basically I would be 'doing all the shopping for the magazine'... yipee! What girl wouldn't want to shop for a job? And, I got to walk in through the front door, well, the visitors section of the front door but let's not dwell on that. My day consisted of reading through every big British newspaper available (by the way there's a lot of them) in order to try and suss out what exactly was hot and what exactly was not for the barometer column and then internet shopping for quirky corkscrews. I never dreamt that a corkscrew would take up an entire evening of my life but it did, and the result was surprisingly satisfying. Plus I got shown round the store room where they keep all the products they have been sent from PR companies:- Hotel Chocolat choccies, Laura Ashley Wallpaper, expensive wines and so much more.

I think if I had to sum up my two parallel universes it would be by their respective cupboards. A treasure trove of freebies in comparison to a kitchen clearing room which is full of cold food, broken glass and tiredness.

2 October 2011

To Spin or Not to Spin?

On the tube home today I picked up a handy copy of the Sunday Times Magazine and Mr Robert Roland Smith, the 'To be or Not to Be' columnist (p.13, 02/10/11) was discussing the moral issues behind 'spinning' your CV to entice potential employers. Now, I believe that to spin, is just a cop out way of saying to tell porkies. When the MPs have their spin doctors whittle up some elaborate piece about the Iraq war, we all know that they are essentially, no matter how they put it, lying.

While Mr Smith may claim that it is "presenting the facts in such a way that they become more coherent than, in reality they really are", stating that you are a social and community interested person when you really mean that you frequent the pub on a regular basis is just preposterous.

For all us people who have actually worked hard to gain the type of experience and qualities an employer is looking for, the fact that someone who is essentially just a good liar could get the job instead of us is painful. Of course we should sell ourselves in our CVs. A job as a waitress for instance should never be put down to just a list of duties such as plate waiting, clearing and polishing. I learned fantastic organisational skills from the hectic kitchen (with a chef worse than Gordon Ramsey on a bad day) and fabulous people skills from the classy, picky and often drunk customers.

My point is, you don't need to lie on your CV, you just need to dig deep and pick out extraordinary things you might have learned from an ordinary job.

On the subject of CVs, I have come across just about every piece of advice out there now. With the job pool so full to the brim, it seems that we are expected to go to insane levels to promote ourselves, without even meeting the boss. www.thebiggeridea.com suggests a colourful visionary delight of a graph depicting your relevant experience to get you noticed. They then go further to suggest sending tape recordings of your hiring pleas and amazing qualities directly to your chosen employer. It seems these days that we have to practically date the boss before we can even meet them. Whatever happened to the good old days where employers would search for and really want us?

My friend is a perfect example of this very situation. In order to try and get a job - unpaid of course - where he can gain relevant experience in the filming industry (after having done a degree in the subject!) he has had to construct witty letters containing filmic anecdotes and references to his employer, alongside calling him several times a week. How come intelligent, hard-working and experienced young people have to basically stalk a boss to even get noticed for an unpaid job? My friend would have been arrested for behaviour like that a decade ago...not given the job!

29 September 2011

Category four: Depression

Ok so I now realise that there are in fact four types of catering and staffing agencies out there. Number four involves a dismal part of South London, grimy chairs and a general sense of failure. I had an interview for one of these very agencies today. I could stand trekking to the other side of London, walking past an undercover market selling bootleg DVDs and blasting music from their boom boxes and even avoiding being mugged in a dark underpass if there was the potential of work at the other end but after spending my last tenner on black trousers and a black shirt from Primark, I am sure I'm no closer to employment.

It's not all doom and gloom, even if I did just have a melt down in the kitchen, I might get the odd job there. Plus I have two more interviews lined up for next week with a more classy looking catering agency and a promotions company which is full of happy jolly people advertising companies in plastic jackets. You know the type...they've cornered you on the street before and got you to sign up to some thing or other (you probably don't even remember what it was exactly) by the power of a smile and a guilt trip. Well, that will probably be me soon. With any luck.

28 September 2011

Fodder for the Blog Cannon

There must be a million different events and hospitality staff companies in London alone. I personally have applied to seven. They seem to me to come under various titles which allow me to cross off at least half of them just purely out of sheer disgust.

Category number one is the overtly and openly acknowledged 'we only take on sexy people' company. Their pages are splashed with pictures of bikini clad young girls either stroking a shiny car bonnet or covering themselves in something soapy. Before you ask, no I have not applied for these jobs...I'd rather sell the Big Issue  thanks. It's basically exploitation of young women like me who are in desperate need of money. Think about this... how many photos on these sites were of men in tiny clothing? Well, I've seen most of the ones which come up at the top of the Google search and I would estimate it at about 10% semi naked men, 90% semi-naked women.

Category number two is possibly even worse. This one lurks under false pretences that it is about skills, not looks but then BAM asks you for three photos - a head shot, a full body and 'one other'. After listing my many fantastic skills in the check-list (by the way there was no mention of radiating sexuality or the ability to wear hot pants well here) I am suddenly thrown into the realisation that if they didn't like your photo, they could just ignore your fine plate waiting skills. Whatever happened to the Equal Opportunities Act?

Category number three is, while the most P.C., also the most ridiculous. These companies exude the kind of fervour small spoilt children reserve only for their birthdays and Christmas morning but for things such as flyering and ushering. They use sentences such as 'highly motivated individuals' and gloat about their excellent training schemes. Now while I am certainly motivated, I don't really wish to be training for hours to wait tables, I did that three years ago. Still, at least they don't want me to wear a Lycra dress.

27 September 2011

How to Fill Your Jobless Day

Aside from doing extra cleaning, filling in job applications and of course, writing this blog, I've found that the best way to forget that you are essentially useless to the world is by exhausting yourself with an exercise DVD. So while the world is at work, Kirsty Gallagher and I are pumping some iron  (1 or 2kgs) and generally attempting to become healthier, better people.

The first time I attempted this I woke up the next day unable to move my muscles, let alone get out of bed. Now however, it's getting easier and I've realised it's true what they say about endorphins making you feel happier. It probably doesn't help that I then go and eat two packets of Pom Bears from the nicely stocked parental cupboard, but I think I've earned it! And besides...I'd probably eat them anyway.

26 September 2011

Job Seekers Allowance

It was a proud day when I strode across the ridiculously long ceremonial stage to receive a piece of white card which was the culmination of three years (well, two years, the first year of university never really counts does it?) hard graft and many thousands of pounds of debt. Was it all worth it? If not then thank God I got my degree before the Tories got their hands on our tuition fees. And that liar Clegg...the first and last time I ever vote Lib Dem.

Unfortunately, I, like so many other graduates,  am stuck in real-world limbo. In  need of money in order to still be able to pay my phone bill and maintain some semblance of a social life, therefore, in need of a job. Simples? No no! One must first gain experience in order to gain a job title which is not bar tender, retail assistant or waitress (all things I did when I did NOT have a degree). Today I perused the Guardian jobs website for the nth time and, while I should know what to expect by now, was still shocked by the amount of experience jobs advertised as graduate roles expect us to have. Unless I wanted to be a 'money hungry head hunter' (their words), a media sales trainee earning 'big bucks', or sell my soul to an HR training scheme then I had to have 'at least' one years experience in the role that I was applying for. How do you get experience if they won't give it to you? Plus, a girl's gotta live you know...so unpaid work experience placements just don't seem to cut it. Still...I'm going to have to do them.

I should probably mention here that I am looking at journalism or publishing roles. Though I expect I shall soon have to downgrade my searches to babysitter and revert to my sixteen year old pre-degree self. I am at least, living at home, and while the endless family dinners, generally culminating in a row of some sort, are a slight stress, I fully appreciate the fact that while I'm unemployed and broke, I am not yet homeless. This might change of course if I continue to have to scrounge off my family who, love me as they do, wish quite rightly to cut me off very very soon.

I never thought that I would have to, but at the moment, Job Seekers Allowance seems to be the only way forward, at least for a little bit. While some people may look down on people on benefits, it seems to me that this particular benefit was made just for people like me....those seeking a job! I am still undecided on whether to actually drag myself to the dreary local Job Centre in case it ends up making me feel more depressed, but, we shall see. Desperate times.

There is, however, always hope  and as it's always nice to end on a happy note, for everyone's sanity, I can say that I have managed to secure some very good, unpaid of course, work experience. I spent five days at BBC Television Centre with HARDtalk, a one-on-one interview programme which has had many a great name grace it's hot seat. It was a shame the placement was only five days, especially considering I worked on my application for over a week and wrote a mini essay for it but it was undoubtedly a fantastic one-off experience. I helped create programme briefs for the producers and input ideas as to who they might interview next. 'Plan B anyone?' I suggested thinking they might laugh me off or do an awkward shuffle in their seats, but they jumped at it and I got emailing publicists and agents which was all very exciting.
I guess the worst thing about work experience these days, is that it rarely, if ever, leads to a job. There are no jobs for it to lead to!

Anyway, I think I'm forgetting that I am Gutsy Grad and even with only £20 in my pocket, thousands of pounds of debt around my neck and a growing sense of worthlessness, I WILL find a job!