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


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.