Job Applications

I’m so bored of job applications. I’m bored of combing through LinkedIn and adverts online, picking out words and intertwining them with my own to construct a cover lettter that simultaneously proves I’m exactly what they’re looking for and yet incredibly different from all the other applicants. I’m bored of receiving overly polite wordy emails that make me read until the penultimate line to tell me I haven’t been successful this time. I’m bored of clarifying that yes, I can in fact start immediately, and no, I don’t really have any salary expectations, just a salary at all would be nice at this point.

I don’t mean to moan, I know it could be worse, I just feel like there is something incredibly montonous about attempting to present the best version of my working self to people I’ll never meet, and yet they have a huge amount of control over what the next few years of my life look like. I’m much more than a CV and cover letter but that’s irrelevant, there are hundreds of equally ‘qualified, hard-working and enthusiastic’ individuals just like me, applying for the same jobs as me and we’re all just the few hundred words we submit in our applications. Thats why you need to make yourself stand out….ah yes, but you see the issue with attempting to stand out is that sometimes it pays off, but a lot of the time, these companies do actually just want you to tick their boxes and equally, if you and 200 other people are attempting to stand out, chances are you’ll be blending in more than you think. I’m being pessimistic, I know, and maybe it is the people who are submitting mixtapes as CVs and recording their cover letters as spoken word who are being hired, but I’m yet to reach that point.

I’m not the only one who’s bored, my brilliant flatmates are wonderfully supportive but every time I ask them to proof read an application, there is a clear look that flickers across their faces. Now I may be wrong, I’m sure it’s unintentional and it’s only for a split second, but in that split second, I am 99% sure they want to kill me. I don’t blame them, there are only so many times I’d be able to read the highlight reel of someone else’s achievements in a mildly different 500 word format. Someone else I know very kindly spent a day a few weeks ago essentially tearing my CV, and as a result, my ego, to pieces. I am of course incredibly grateful, it’s always helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes look at something, but having someone point out all the flaws in something you thought was pretty decent is never great to hear. It also made me feel like all the time I’d spent applying for jobs with the old and dull CV was a complete waste of time, which, considering I didn’t get any of them, I suppose it kind of was. C’est la vie. In fairness, we didn’t add anything new, just presented it in a way that means I’m selling myself better, thank goodness I’m not trying to go into advertising…

Very few job rejections I’ve received have offered much response, the current climate means every opening is receiving hundreds of applicants so can’t offer individual feedback. I understand that, obviously you can’t expect a company to go through and let every individual know specifically why they haven’t made the cut, but obviously it would help to know where I’m going wrong and if there’s anything I can do about it. A couple have offered feedback, but when I’ve chased it they obviously have things that are further up on their list of priorities. Its entirely understandable, just a bit frustrating, especially because it tends to be the same companies that send incredibly nice rejections telling me how much they enjoyed my application and how much great experience I have and how they’re sure I’ll be an asset to whatever company I join, it just won’t be theirs. I know it’s meant to be nice, but ultimately I don’t really need nice or to be let down gently, just a quick yes or no.

All of this being said, of course I will keep applying. Of course I will keep making my flatmates read over and over my cover letters, I will keep listening to my mum’s ideas and suggestions of different career paths and I will keep sending random emails to friends of my aunty’s neighbour’s brother-in-law in the hope they might be able to give me a hand. Of course things could be much worse and I’m just ranting. They say applying for jobs is a full time job, the truth is I’d just quite like a real one now.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

Australia: Part 3

A month in Australia and I’ve moved into my new place, the location is great, the number of cockroaches who also seemed to have moved in is less great but it’s all part of the experience. I’ve made a bit more of a plan for the next few months which is exciting, Sydney is brilliant but I’m aware there is a whole country to see which I’m looking forward to. In the meantime, I need to earn some money to be able to afford all the travelling I want to do so the job hunt continues, with more urgency everyday. 

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Being unemployed means lots of time for people watching which I’m enjoying, I’ve noticed there is always lots to take in when you’re in a new place but I think that perhaps the longer you spend somewhere, the more you notice it all. When you’re just visiting, you tend to rush through the days, trying to see everything and fit it all in. But when it’s more permanent and you have the luxury of empty days there is more time to observe the routines and the movements of a place. That being said, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve noticed since being out here, a few things about the movements of the city.

  • There is more small talk and fleeting connections. When people in coffee shops or supermarkets are asked how their day is going it’s met with a smile and a conversation instead of that subconscious british hostility we’re so used to.
  • They toast their banana bread which makes a simple but life-changing difference. This is the only place I’ve been where I feel like my love for banana bread is matched.
  • Bus drivers wait for people, if they see you running they won’t close the doors seconds before you reach them, they’ll hold on a minute. Generally everyone can hold on a minute, the sense of urgency that exists amongst us at home seems more rare here.
  • Early starts and early finishes. I saw a sign in a gym window inviting people to join a running group that meets at 4.40am. On Saturdays. The days end much earlier too with people eating out at 6 and heading home rather than experiencing the long summer evenings.
  • Coffees are tiny, it seems like caffeine is there to serve a purpose rather than be enjoyed. They have keep cups the size of espressos and most lattes you can see off in two sips.
  • The more cockroaches you see, the less fazed you are by them. Slightly concerning because I definitely don’t want to get used to sharing my kitchen with the uninvited guests but on day one I was squirming at the sight and now I’m batting them away like flies.

So a month of not working has been great, it’s been incredible to enjoy the city, but I’m ready for a job now, for more routine and structure and something to fill the days. So if someone could hire me now that’d be great. Please.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

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.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

Success

I am nearing the end of University. After Easter there is just 4 days, 3 projects, 2 essays and 1 exam to go and so of course I am being asked the inevitable ‘what are your plans for after uni?’.

The truth is I have an idea of what I’d like to do, but I think a large majority of our generation feel as though they’re being pulled in different directions in an attempt to achieve success. There are job ‘opportunities’ flying at us, careers fairs, grad schemes, application deadlines. Equally there is the pull to take some time, to have a break and use the opportunity to actually enjoy unemployment. On the other hand, as much as I long for and love freedom, I also feel ready to settle somewhere, I want a flat to decorate and a local area and some kind of routine but obviously, in order to do that I need money, lots of it. So that brings us back to the job dilemma.

I’d like a job (obviously), but doing exactly what I don’t know. It would probably be something media related, but so far none of the work experience I’ve done has ignited a passion in me and made me want to do it for the rest of my life. The jobs I do want are ones that are incredibly competitive, and I don’t know if I’m confident enough in my ability to push for the presenter roles, the writing opportunities. I’m aware you usually need to work your way up, hence why I’m hesitant to start climbing the career ladder before I’m certain of what I want to be at the top, or whether I’m ready to start working towards it. That being said, you have to start somewhere, but I’m not sure I want to start digging my roots somewhere in case it suddenly becomes too hard to leave.

The desire to travel is one I know so many of us experience, we are aware of the unique opportunity we have; Time. As much as there is a pressure for us to get a job, there is perhaps an equal one for us to take advantage of our youth. The chance to take time for ourselves, to achieve things outside of a job and explore the world is one that we are unlikely to get again. There are plans I made when I was younger, places I’ve seen pictures of and stories I’ve heard so I almost feel like I owe it to myself to experience these things. The insight social media gives us into other peoples lives probably doesn’t help, we look at what our friends are spending their time doing and compare it to how we are spending ours. Even though we know it’s a specially curated highlight reel, sometimes other people’s highlights still look better than our own. It also expands our horizons, which isn’t a bad thing but can almost make us feel like we have more to do, more of life to be living. We can look at pictures of cities, beaches and cafes and instantly add them to our ever growing bucket lists.

So, with all that in mind, I am trying to remember to run my own race, to measure my success against myself. There is no point looking at the person in the next lane, how well they’re doing in their life makes no difference to how well I’m doing in mine. I want to see other people succeeding and use it as motivation to achieve my own goals, whatever they are. I’m trying to find the balance between working hard and doing what makes me happy because hopefully, eventually, the two will go together. In the mean time, you’ll find me doing my best and trying not to have a premature quarter life crisis. I’ll keep you posted.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett