Tag Archives: unemployment

Wednesday’s Got Issues: Education counts for nothing.

As I’m typing today’s post I’m listening to BBC 5 Live’s unemployment debate, broadcast this morning. It is difficult to decide whether it’s more or less depressing to hear that so many other people are going through the same thing as me, graduates and others searching for jobs over a period of months and years to no avail. A number of people are discussing the utter uselessness of job centres, and I have been reaffirmed in my decision not to sign on – it was repeatedly said that job centres have no idea how to deal with graduates. I think the main reason for this has to be the preconceived idea that going to university is an ironclad guarantee of a well paid job, it seems that job centres are equipped to deal with the uneducated, and even then they’re useless. Ever since I can remember a degree has been a non-negotiable part of my life. I never thought about any other options, university was always the plan. I enjoyed my education and was generally placed in the top sets, so it seemed like a natural progression: if you are thought of as smart, you go to university. I wonder if the next generation will think the same, factoring in the astronomical rise in tuition fees, and I envy them. The teenagers of today are becoming more exposed to the availability of apprenticeships and training programmes that offer a cheaper and more stable alternative, as degrees become less of a certain route into satisfactory employment. They are much more aware of their options than I ever was.

Admittedly, my degree is not the best foundation for a vocation. A 2:1 in European Literature and Cultural Studies provided me with excellent skills in researching and persuasive writing, and my year abroad in New Zealand left me with a brilliant ability to adapt and problem solve the most trying of situations. But friends of mine who studied Geology are currently looking at jobs in exotic places with a starting salary of £75000, while I am left to apply for 12 month internships in which my only wage is expenses of £5 a day. And that is the one thing that the debate has not touched on, the rise in vacancies described as internships or work experience, in which you are expected to do a job for nothing. A recent movement discussed on theunitlist.com (one of the many jobsites that I visit multiple times every day), has highlighted the exploitation of companies who use people desperate for experience, yet don’t reward them for the valuable contribution that they make. As I understand it, work experience is defined as a shadowing programme, you don’t actually undertake any significant duties but rather gain first hand knowledge of an industry. I accept that internships are different, but from what I’ve seen in vacancies advertised over the last 8 months, it is generally equivalent to the work of an admin/communications assistant, which in other vacancies warrants a salary upwards of £15000. During an internship which I undertook last year, during which I learnt a huge amount and thoroughly enjoyed myself, I received no renumeration whatsoever. And from what I saw, the majority of the legwork was done by the team of interns who assisted the permanent staff. That is not to say that the permanent staff did nothing, they worked very hard and took the time to teach us a lot of skills, however I don’t think that the festival that was organised would have been possible without the work of the interns, and yet we received very little.

I understand that internships are a necessary part of gaining experience, and I am so glad that I was able to undertake one myself, but there are times when the expectations seem a little unrealistic. Could someone explain to me exactly how I’m supposed to live in London and support myself for the entirety of a 12 month contract, in which I am only paid minimal expenses, or nothing at all? The only reason that I was able to support myself during my internship was that it was based in Cambridge, where I was able to stay at my family’s home. It is just not possible to manage for an entire year, in London, without at least minimum wage. A few months, yes, but not much longer than that. The bank of Mum and Dad will not extend that far.

So I am continuing with endless job applications, hoping that one day someone will see that I am employable, and maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones. If not, it’s down to the job centre, degree in hand, where I expect I’ll be viewed with the same indifference that is extended to everyone who comes through the door.


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The Jobseekers’ Slump

After months of serious jobseeking, during which I have been sustained by one thoroughly brilliant (but sadly unpaid) internship, and one Waterstones Christmas job (paid, lovely, temporary), I have entered a slump. After trawling through countless job sites, endlessly repeating my info on application forms, formatting and reformatting my CV and cover letter, I have heard bugger all. Zip. Nada. Not a bloody dickie bird. And, frankly, I’m demoralised.

Convinced that I’m unemployable, I have been steadfast in my quest for the perfect CV template, and have rehashed my cover letter to within an inch of its life. But let’s face it, there are only so many ways to say “hire me please, I’ll be excellent” before you start to sound desperate yet strangely egomaniacal.

The point is that all job applications sound the same, it would be strange if a group of CVs applying for a specific position weren’t at least slightly similar. So I have come to the conclusion that it is pure luck whether you are successful or not. Whether your application happens to be in the first fifty (or five) that the employer has read, before they decide that to go any further through the pile would be about as much fun as using a cheese grater to exfoliate.

So I will try my best to be lucky, because all I want is an interview. If I have that, I don’t even need to get the job. Just knowing that I was good enough to make it into the short list would be enough to spur me on towards a fresh pile of application forms, ready to fill in my A Levels for the 10765th time.

So, attention potential employers: give me an interview, and I’ll be happy.

Did I mention that I am exceptionally good at being interviewed? I’m even better at being employed.

Try me.

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Happy new year to one and all

2011 was a year of death, destruction and unemployment. But it was also the year that those without a voice fought to be heard. Let’s hope that changes continue to be made for the better throughout 2012.

From the looks of social media pages this morning, everyone had a pretty good night from what they can remember, and I imagine that there may be something of a bacon shortage as people try to correct their delicate state.

My New Year’s Eve probably sounds like a PSA about the benefits of online dating – I was alone (with my dogs), eating Ben & Jerrys and watching Alan Carr et al getting steadily more trollied on Channel 4. To some that might sound like a cry for help, but it has become my personal NYE tradition to avoid generally everyone, take control of the TV remote and shamelessly eat/drink myself into a stupor while dancing around the living room with a bewildered Springer Spaniel. Bridget Jones I may be, but lonely I am not.

From my experiences of previous years, NYE is impossible to enjoy if you’re with other people in a social setting. I have sat in a busy Sydney park for 13 hours waiting for a few pretty lights, I have attended house parties full of people I’ve never met, and I’ve ventured into the festering, overcrowded meat markets known as “NYE club nights”. Believe me, I have tried to be normal and decided against it.

So this time next year, I would like all of the usual: less weight, more money, a job and somewhere new to live. So not much. There’s nothing like being an unemployed 23 year old, forced to move back into the family home after graduation, to bring home just how much of a failure you have become. So in the next year a new flat please. Oh, and a job in TV would be nice. And maybe someone with whom I could share my end of year ritual, there’s more than enough Ben & Jerrys for two.

Happy New Year all x

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