London

A month ago I moved to London. I’m living in a house full of builders and dust and mice. Everything is expensive and I miss Leeds and there are so many people that I physically bump into someone daily. A woman accidentally put her hand in my mouth on the tube and every social occasion seems to involve too much alcohol. But I’m happy, so happy that some days I almost skip to work and in my lunch breaks I can’t stop smiling. I feel very lucky to be here, to be meeting people, to be experiencing it all.

I seem to have a lot of time in my own head at the moment which, for once, I actually don’t mind, it’s giving me a chance to just take it all in and watch it all happen. I thought I’d share some of the random things I’ve been thinking about and taking in…

Black Tie

There is something about a person dressed in black tie that can turn a dreary dark evening into something more like a dream. The possibility of seeing someone in their finery as I leave the office as the light fades and head towards the Northern line is one of my favourite things about living in London. There is such a difference in our evening plans that I can’t help but feel excited for them, to feel curious. Who are they? Where are they going? What’s the event and where will the night take them?

I guess that happens regularly though in smaller ways, I often find myself people-watching and creating stories for the individuals I see. We love to live vicariously through others, to speculate and wonder about the goings on in people’s lives. We do it with those closest to us but when they’re a stranger, you’ll never know how close you are to the truth and I think that’s part of the excitement. Perhaps it is easier to daydream about someone else’s life than our own. To consider all of the options rather than have any confirmed. I think there’s a reassurance that comes with that though. If we imagine all the possibilities of someone else’s life, it reminds us of all the possibilities of our own. Of all the possibilities of a night in black tie.

Candy Crush

The underground is probably the only place you will see more than 5 self-respecting adults playing Candy Crush at the same time. Firstly I didn’t know anyone still played Candy Crush and secondly, I didn’t know it was the go to game for commuters. And yet, there is something about the monotonous rhythms of the tube and our compulsive need to distract ourselves that mean as soon as people mind the gap and step onto the train, they are desperate for something to do, they cannot just be, and so out comes their phone and they join their fellow travellers in staring at the familiar grid of brightly coloured shapes.

As people we find it very difficult to just be, we are filling our time with background noise, potentially to stimulate and educate us but maybe so we don’t have to listen to whatever is at the forefront. It’s a daily distraction and I know that most of us have them, whether its TV or podcasts or reading, I’m just surprised by how many I’ve noticed reaching for the same simple game.

That being said, I do see the appeal. There have been a number of times where I’ve caught myself peering over a fellow passenger’s shoulder and almost tutting aloud because they decided to move the blue sweet instead of the purple one.

Age

I have noticed that being in London makes me feel younger again. I’m aware that I’m not old, hence youngER, but I’m surprised. I’m living alone and have my first full-time job and yet I feel younger than I did at university. It’s a good thing, I think there is a sense of freedom and spontaneity that you can associate with your early twenties and after losing that for a while I was worried it was already over. I have a theory about it though. When you leave university, you’re normally one of the oldest amongst your peers and everyone is talking about life after graduation and it feels like a huge step. But then, and I know this won’t be true for everyone, then I moved to a city where I am one of the youngest again and very few people actually refer to the fact I’ve just graduated, they’re not fussed about what I did in Leeds they just want me to do the job. The stage I’m at in life feels far less important.

It’s a nice change, I don’t have to worry about readings I should be doing or essays I should be writing, work stops at 5 and I have the evenings to socialise and do whatever I want. Yes going to work 9-5 5 days a week has taken some getting used to but we’re getting there and it was going to have to happen at some point. It’s all only temporary which is maybe why it’s reassuring, I can have fun adulting for a few months then run away to Australia when it all gets a bit much because living in London has been a needed reminder that actually, when you graduate, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.

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Interning

Intern and work experience culture is something being widely discussed at the moment. People are talking about how accessible it is, about a lack of diversity, what you gain from it, how fair it is and as a recent graduate looking for a job in the media industry, its something I’m witnessing first hand and thinking about a lot.

I understand the need for experience, that a degree only says so much and you often have to prove yourself. I know that people need to see hard work rather than just trusting you and I understand that most businesses, especially those in the media, don’t have spare cash floating around to pay you with, I realise I’m not ready to walk straight into the job of my dreams, but there’s a line.

My view is that you should get something out of work experience, the clue is in the name, it should be experience, especially if its unpaid. Ultimately, being unemployed doesn’t mean your time isn’t worth anything. It’s worth skills, insight, knowledge and even though none of those pay the bills, they are worth something. The issue arises when you’re not getting anything out of it, when you don’t feel you’re learning or being productive or bettering yourself or the organisation you’re working for. A lack of experience should not equate to a lack of respect, respect for my time, my intelligence, the experience and skills I do have. If an organisation is taking on interns, they should be sure there is something for them to do (it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything incredible, as long as its something), to learn and hopefully enjoy.

As you can probably tell, I have just done some pretty rubbish interning with a company I was really excited to work for. There was very little for me to do, the tasks I did carry out were very repetitive and uninteresting, I wasn’t given any insight into how the business worked or what each person’s role was or how the team operated. My supervisor clearly resented the fact I was her responsibility and the office culture felt unwelcoming, hierarchical and slightly arrogant. As I say, I don’t mind what I’m doing on work experience, as long as its something, but hours would pass where I was sat at a desk with nothing to do and my supervisor ignoring my messages asking if there was anything I could help with. There was a lack of economic and cultural diversity within the team, and I know that I speak from a position of privilege, but I was reminded of what a luxury London-based work experience is. The week before I started I was told my own laptop would be an ‘essential’ everyday but I know that its an ‘essential’ many don’t have. It was such a shame, a business I’ve loved and admired since I was small made me feel smaller than ever.

My thought is that for work experience to be a success, it has to be a two-way agreement that benefits both parties. There is no way that it’ll work if either the employer or the intern think they are doing the other a favour, it needs to be a mutual exchange. If you are taking on interns, make sure there is something for them to do that helps benefit you, that you have factored them into office routine while they are there, that there is something they can learn before they leave. If you’re an intern, be prepared to be busy, to do whatever is asked of you, to learn and to remind yourself of your value and end goal every so often. Ultimately, only you can decide what that end goal is worth.

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