Musings Over a Graduate Application

LIVING IT UP IN LIMBO

job hunting tips
Warning
If you suffer from Graduatewithnojobitis you should know that this post does have the ability to improve your mood. But if you stop in the middle you could end up suffering from the following conditions: moodiness, sense of impending doom, anxiety, nausea, anger, grief, inexplicable terror, nightmares, insomnia and uncontrollable weeping. 
If you do experience any of these symptoms scroll straight to the bottom of the page for a video of funny cats. 

Yet another application is in, another deadline met.

Tomorrow I will finish the next one.

And at some point I will write something poignant for my Master’s degree, pen an article for the university newspaper and then embroil myself in the editing needed for a client’s novel. I’ve quickly realised that whilst being a postgraduate is fantastic, in eight months time I’ll be out on my own, dipping my toe into Real Life.

This is slightly terrifying.

Especially when Real Life doesn’t seem to want to give me, or a load of my equally qualified friends, a job. Not because finding a job is hard – it’s ridiculously easy to find a job using Milkround or Guardian Jobs or the newspaper or just a cursory internet search using key terms like ‘Graduate Publishing’ or ‘PR Entry Level’ or ‘Marketing roles’.

Earning that job, however, that much desired position, that omg-it-actually-pays-a-salary role: this is the tricky part.

So far I’ve only met with the Apologetic Email of Doom and the Utter Silence of Rejection.

And yeah rejection kind of hurts. Maybe only a little the first time. Better luck next time right? The third, fifth and tenth time it niggles a little, stings a tad. Then by the twelfth or the thirtieth, it’s hard to keep yourself from wondering “what’s wrong with me?!”. It’s incomprehensible.

Because you’re great. Really you are. You deserved that administrative assistant role with a retail company you’ve never heard of because you’re actually a wonderful human being and there’s no explanation as to why you’re not having any luck attaining that precious J. O. B. Thus, by the time you’re on the umpteenth rejection email, you’re probably reassessing priorities. Maybe thinking… well… Costa will tide me over until someone hires me.

Only COSTA rejects you as well. Because when 1,700 people apply for 8 jobs at a Costa, suddenly it’s not so simple.

In fact, the situation’s kind of grim. There’s thousands of us desperately scrabbling away at the job market, studying our carefully reworded cover letters and our personalised CVs, wondering what we’re not doing that Jennifer with the purple handbag from that philosophy class in first year did better than us.

So what do we do? How do we change this? Is it even in our power to change things or are we stuck in the rut of our economic climate? Should we be blaming the reputations of young people as bad timekeepers and over-dreamers, expecting to waltz into their ideal job at 22? Should we be eyeing up our international counterparts and believing they’re stealing our jobs? Or should we be readying our boots to kick out the ‘old people’ who are living longer, working longer and therefore holding onto jobs for longer?

A fair few are happy to simply point out ‘At Least It’s Not 2009’. Yes, therein lies our silver-lining, fellow graduates, it’s not the beginning of the worst fiscal crash in decades.

I can see your frowns: surely there HAS to be something better than that?

Graduate tips
A New Yorker cartoon by Mike Twohy

YES THERE IS GOOD NEWS.

Firstly, the economy has improved and with any luck it’ll keep improving.

Plus, all those traditional jobs that were cut down during the fiscal crash – they’re not the only options anymore. There are loads of start ups, groups of young people with big dreams who are keen to see the world working slightly differently. Things aren’t as bad as some of the stories suggest. And whether it takes six days, six weeks or six months – statistics say that IT WILL HAPPEN. Don’t give up.

Which leads me to Point the Second: our age is digital.

We can do LOADS using our shiny computers and fizzbubbling interwebz. Not only can you make your CV look awesome and google great cover letters. You also can literally stalk companies using online media too, because if Little Miss Brilliant or Mr Great-Is-My-Middle-Name from That Awesome Company leaves to start in Another Pretty Fantastic Role then there’s a new vacancy. People might move up and create a vacuum for little intrepid graduates to slope their way into. And then there’s things like Linkedin.

Sure we’ve all heard it before – USE YOUR CONTACTS, SAYS EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME – but now you can really track what everyone you went to university with is doing. So if your friend has a job at a place you think sounds interesting, you can ask them about it. You can find out what they did and what they think of it now. Even if they can’t give you a knee in, they might be able to give you some tips.

Thirdly: you are not alone.

We’re all in the same boat. We’re young, soon-to-be-unemployed-non-students and whilst the boat might look like it’s chockablock and about to sink, it’s completely natural to be in this position. Some will be thinking OOOOOOO SO MUCH LOOKS AMAZING I JUST CAN’T CHOOSE. And others will be frowning at the Jobs List just praying that one day something comes up that they Actually Find Interesting.

The point is that after some self-analysis and brutal honesty, we will figure out what to apply for, who to apply to and whether we actually want it or whether we’re driven by desperation. We will make it. Eventually. One person at a time until our younger siblings have caught up with us. And then we’ll go try Australia.

So basically, there are things to look forward to and whilst we’re all panicky because we’re freaking out (secretly, on the inside, all the time) we do have the option to take a little bit of time and figure ourselves out as well as our jobs.

We don’t have to be fully-fledged-fifty-somethings until we are fifty-somethings. And even then I doubt we’ll worry too much about actually being fifty-somethings.

We have the time to misspend a little bit of this limbo period working things out. It will suck at times. It will hurt at times. It will probably be the most depressing thing you’ve ever experienced ever sometimes. But the silver-lining is that there’s always the chance that next time you’ll receive the email that says YES. WE WANT YOU. YOU’RE HIRED. Because we’ll plod on together, hoping and dreaming and wishing that that email already arrived, and we’ll make sure the boat doesn’t sink by watching videos of funny cats. Like this one. They bring out videos every month. BOOM.

MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR. AND MINE.

Je serai poète et toi poésie,

SCRIBBLER

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