30 January 2012

The Freelance Entrepreneur

With graduate employment as stinkingly low as it is, it's high time we took earning money into our own hands. While my expert waitressing skills get me enough money to ensure my impending death is not quite so impending, my income needs a little bit of a boost if I wish to save a single penny. Hence, I am going to test the freezing waters of entrepreneurship and freelance journalism.

While part of me really just wants to sell Vietnamese Banh Mi (the best steak sandwich in the world) from a food stall on Brick Lane, I have realised that this is actually more complicated and expensive than ever anticipated. Plus, I'm not Vietnamese, I don't have public liability insurance and while the sandwiches are heavenly, I'm not sure I could ever look one in the face again after making and serving over 500 of them every month. Still, I know what I'm having for lunch today.

I did try the E-Bay route for a while. Selling my old clothing however, got a tad depressing, especially when I realised that no one really wanted a fluorescent pink top or my old bra. Not surprisingly really, but I had hoped that there might be people out there more desperate than me.

Back to the serious stuff, I am going to test my writing skills on the local papers and magazines and see if they want to publish my works of brilliance. This egotistical speak is not entirely serious, don't worry, it's just me trying to stay absolutely positive. Pure banter. So, when I'm not working as a deluxe waitress, I will be coming up with articles to send to local papers or supplements. I'll fill you in pretty soon on whether or not this is going well as soon as I've banged out a few of my letters to editors. Unfortunately I seem to work best at night and seeing as how I have to be up for work nice and early for an eleven hour shift it looks like I won't be getting a wink of sleep tonight, let alone forty.

18 January 2012

Spam Attack!

So I just found out that I've been fooling myself all along. The hundreds of views which I was so proud to be racking up on my page count are mostly something evil called referer spam. OOOOH I hate spam - whether it's electronic, paper or meat based, it is the absolute bane of my life. How dare these Russian spam artists take over my blog stats and make poor unknowing people click on their links! Of course, I clicked on them - pride got the best of me and I wanted desperately to know who it was looking at my posts. Well, turns out it's no one. And their sites are rubbish. Humph.

99% of the mail I receive is generally tut. Emails getting me to sign up to yet more job sites where I can advertise myself and my manifold skills by posting my CV on line... and get no responses whatsoever. Letters from the NHS wishing me Happy New Year and offering me a free Chlamydia test. Yay. It's just what I always wanted! Then there's the the ones from every single voucher company available on this planet offering me half price spa days and manicures. While I could definitely do with one of those right now - my nails are worn down from a combination of washing up since the dishwasher broke and general anxiety - I can't actually afford their lovely and slightly pointless offers. There was one exciting thing I got in the post however; a Graze box. Four little compartments of healthy, tasty, nutritious treats, intended to ward off the 4 o'clock snack attack. And...it was FREE! So at least I'm sticking to my New Year's Resolutions. Save money and snack healthily. In fact I'm nibbling upon some chilli and lime pistachios right this very instant. Yum.

Oh yeah, guess what? I got promoted again. In that job that I thought I'd never go back to. A 50p per hour pay rise, more seniority and the task of reporting on staff members who dare to turn up with a hair bobble coloured other than black or with beard stubble. It seems that I am perhaps destined to become a worker in the catering and events industry after all. Or is it the bitching industry? I'll have to work that one out. Either way, they are the only ones who seem to want to hire me right now. And the only people who send me emails which aren't spam - although how eager I am to receive said emails is another matter.

12 January 2012

Sentencing Tired Career Advice to Death

Call me a moaning Myrtle, or however the saying goes but there comes a point where career advice just becomes patronising. Now I'm not an ungrateful person - my friends will gladly tell you how much I can love and appreciate almost any silly little thing on this planet - I'm just not stupid either.

Let's start with the classic. "You just have to keep applying to everything until something comes up." Really? Because I thought that maybe if I stopped applying to things, then they would definitely give me a job. You mean there isn't a job God who looks down from his shiny office in the sky and reads our CVs diligently, handing out dream jobs delivered by angels? Bummer, bang goes my religion. On the other hand, maybe I should try a new method - maybe if I don't apply for jobs I will definitely get one. Hah, that's the other one that gets me - "you just need to be patient, something will come up". Unfortunately, I don't think it quite works like that in reality. If it did, this blog would have blown up and I'd be a top columnist right now. So I think I'm just going to stick with what I know and have been doing for the last few months... endless job applications. I'm still agnostic about the whole CV God thing though.

My favourite piece of advice I have received so far (and about a million times) is "it's all about the connections"...well duh! I don't really say duh, but in this case it's necessary. I am a woman torn. I both love and loathe connections. On the one hand I love meeting new and interesting people and the idea that someone might give you a job or some experience because they take a liking to your personality and they think you can do the job well. On the other hand, the democratic and liberal side of me is screaming out against nepotism and favouritism and calling for equal opportunities for everyone, whether they know people or not. Of course we should use our connections in a professional sense but in a way I know I value the jobs that I got totally on my own by going through every level of the application process even more. I guess that I am in no position to be getting up on my moral high horse in my situation, despite the fact he is rather a comfortable and ethical horse.

At the end of the day, it would be nice to be given a teensy weensy little interview. Just so I can show them how good I would be at the job. My motto, and that of my other unemployed friends has become "we're so hireable!". It's so true. Plus it shows how much we have grown up since the age of fourteen when it was more like "we're so fancyable!" - priorities girls. If I get one more piece of overly-spouted, obvious career advice, I may just have to stamp on it very hard with my new winter boots.

p.s. original career advice always welcome and not stamped upon in a malicious fashion.

2 January 2012


It's the start of  new year. I'd like to say it's time for a new me...but let's keep things simple for now. After an amazing festive season of way too much bubbly (or just way too many general alcoholic units) consumed, far too much rich and delicious food and a whole lot of sitting in front of the television generally not moving for several hours at a time, it is well and truly time for a fresh start. So, some new year's resolutions, which I fully intend to stick to... for at least a month anyway.

1. Swap unhealthy snacks for healthy ones.
A great idea in theory. Carrot sticks and humous instead of crisps and nuts and seeds instead of sweets and chocolate. The only problem is of course, that my whole house is FULL to the brim with an over abundance of unhealthy, extremely tempting snacks teasing me at every turn. There's chocolate in the fridge, on my desk, in the front room and even in the hallway, just sitting there mocking my futile attempt at a resolution. Then, you start to make excuses., Well maybe if I just have one unhealthy snack a day? Before long it's all over and your gorging yourself endlessly, surrounded by a blanket of  pretty coloured foil wrappers. Must...stay...strong.

2. Exercise at least twice a week.
So I'm definitely too poor to join a gym and I hate running in public. The next best option is back to the exercise DVD regime whereby a fit and healthy Davina McCall tells me I'm doing really well all the time and generally gives me self-confidence boosting tips. The draw back with this option is that the DVD player is in the front room which also has a very comfortable sofa in it. Similarly there's no allotted time for said exercise and so I could end up just not doing it at all. But that's not the way I intend to carry on. I will be perfectly toned and fit by the summer I promise myself.

3. Save money.
I have the image of a traveller's dream in my mind for this summer. It involves starting in St Petersburg,  catching the Transiberian from Moscow via Mongolia, to Beiijing and then potentially the ferry to Japan. I do realise that this seems slightly ridiculous right now when I am jobless and penniless but my plan will prevail and  all it will take it finding a job and saving, saving, saving. Plus, I won't be spending any money on unhealthy snacks any more will I? I'm not even sure that I mind too much what the job is really. Of course, if I land my dream job right here, right now, the trip will have to wait but I have come to realise that the likelihood of that happening is close to zero. At least this gives me something to look forward to.

2012 is going to be a good year. With my health (hopefully), my wealth (very hopefully) and my holiday (extremely hopefully) all contributing to a very happy new year.