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!