I could write extensively about how much university did not live up to any of the expectations that people had fed to me but I know that regurgitating anecdotes of bad experiences will not help me now – choosing to spend my time questioning past decisions would not be productive. I have moved forward with my life and plan to continue to do so, it is only during days like these when I have the time to over-think “what if” scenarios that I can lose perspective. I know that being hopeful and optimistic is not enough, I need to be proactive.
A lot of people tend to assume that as I studied graphic design, sorry, BA(Hons) Graphic Arts, at university that I am only applying for design jobs. This is not the case. Ideally I would like to work in a creative environment which is why I have been mainly applying for Studio Assistant roles. I have been to several interviews but have been unsuccessful every time because of my “lack of experience”. I presume you can understand how much of a frustrating vicious circle that is. However, although my “lack of experience” has been considered a hindrance with regards to finding full-time employment since returning from my 2013 travels, without trying to sound like a complete hippy, I will forever maintain that I learned more about life during those travels than I could have sat behind a desk. I returned focused and motivated and I hope one day an employer will recognise that and take a chance on me.
In addition to this, I am not arrogant enough to only search for jobs in one sector. I know a job in retail is less desirable for a graduate than one related to their degree but I see no shame in the fact that I spent a year working in an interiors store because that period of employment funded my travels from April to October 2013 and should a full-time position in a shop become available now, I am not above going for it. Similarly, in the summers between my university years I knew my chances of finding seasonal employment in my hometown were minimal so I lived on the Isle of Wight and worked as a waitress in a hotel. I get mixed reactions when I talk about the Isle of Wight; some people speak very fondly of it, others consider it to just be one big retirement home and some have never heard of it. For me, half of my family lives there and it is where I spent the majority of my childhood summer holidays so it will always be a part of me. Unfortunately, I come across an embarrassingly high amount of snobbery when I mention the word “waitress” but, you know what, I had fun. Breakfast shifts were my favourite because I would finish about 11am, pick up my tips from the previous night and walk down to the beach where I would treat myself to an ice cream, take my shoes off and walk along the beach. Nothing beats fresh air and the sand between your toes. In conclusion, having a degree has not narrowed my search and to anyone who is in a similar situation to me who thinks that they are allowed to be picky: get over yourself.
I think I struggle to answer the question “what would your dream job be?” because it has felt so unachievable for so long now that I have lost touch with what it is. If we’re talking dream job where visas and such practicalities were not an issue, I could picture myself working in one of North America’s National Parks, preferably Yosemite. With regards to which creative industry I would most like to work in, layout design has always interested me the most and to work for a publishers would be incredible. Being responsible for how work looks on a page but not necessarily creating the content sounds like heaven. I think book, magazine and all kinds of print design is one of those areas that is often overlooked because whenever I have expressed my enthusiasm in it, I often receive a response along the lines of: “someone does that?” as if the layout for every article is decided by the writer and illustrator of the piece. It is an aspect of design, like most, that, if executed flawlessly, goes unnoticed but get something wrong and you will know about it. To anyone who responds with a remark about how books are dying out, I don’t have the time for you right now. However, I do appreciate the ever-growing popularity of digital publications which I would equally be interested in learning about. I am not talking about website design though, I think to be good, let alone really good, at coding you need to love it and I most certainly do not.
When you first receive a rejection email of course you take the news personally but what frustrates me is that really, I know I am more than capable of every job I apply for – it would be a waste of my time and any employer to apply for roles that I would not be suitable for. People often try to comfort me with words such as: “you mustn’t let this affect your confidence” but, in all honesty, I know it is the company’s loss. I’m not sure if it is just an English thing to see any sign of self-belief as brash arrogance but I know that I am the type of person who can achieve anything I put my mind to. I have moments of self-criticism like every other human but I am a confident person who chooses self esteem over self pity because I know that I deserve an opportunity to prove how much of a hard worker I am. I am not delusional – I know my weaknesses and limits – but when you are in this position you have to rely on yourself to stay motivated and that means picking yourself up and moving forward.
Sometimes for peace of mind it is better to switch off from the opinions of others. Unless it is constructive, it’s usually not best to hear it. Contradictory “advice” such as: “a job isn’t just going to knock on your door; you have to work for one. Don’t worry though, something will come along.” makes my blood boil when I’m not having a great day. First of all, it insinuates that I am making no effort to change my current employment status which I find rather insulting. With regards to something just “coming along”, thanks for the positive vibes but I haven’t seen much evidence of that happening.
I knew that leaving my job in April 2013 to go travelling would mean facing the job hunt when I returned but I genuinely did not think it would take this long to find something. Above all, I am not the kind of person who gets embarrassed easily but I take absolutely no pride in the fact I am unemployed. People with little job satisfaction claim to envy my situation but I can assure you, it is no holiday.
I want to keep on learning. One of the factors I will take in to consideration when someday I settle down somewhere is the evening courses the nearest college offers. Whilst I was at school I completed a life drawing course and would love the opportunity to enrol on such a course again. I’d also like to try out other courses not in the hope that they would make me more employable, just to learn. Being able to speak another language, particularly French or German would be great and I’d be interested many things from screen printing to carpentry, after all, how can you know whether or not you are good at something until you try it? The one course I would definitely be on the hunt for is one in Art History but for now I will just have to wait and see.