Introduction from Amie Samba: ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ winner, 2012

Hi, my name is Amie Samba. Welcome to the Entrepreneurship section of After Uni. I am the CEO/Founder of Run Fun Starz; we help creative directors and freelancers reach their personal best in life and business through sports programmes. I am also a BSc Sports Science with Psychology Graduate. I studied at the University of East London from 2006 to 2009. You may have read my interview with Lauren on After Uni before.

I would like to thank Lauren for this opportunity to speak to so many of you who are going through that transitional period (or about to) between graduating and finding your dream job. After Uni is a fantastic resource that I certainly could have done with. I initially expressed interest in talking about my experiences after graduating. Lauren then suggested I should also write a section dedicated to business and entrepreneurship for graduates and students.

The intention of this section is to give you an insight into entrepreneurship and business as a graduate, woman, young person and everything in between. You may be considering going into business and setting something up once you have graduated. You may even have a business in place already. I am sure you could find this section helpful to you. To give you a better idea about me and if I am the kind of person you would like to connect with, I will share a bit about me…

The formation of my business stemmed from a number of significant events in my life. I grew up in Sweden. It provides the ideal environment for kids to be active. Even if you are not the sporty type it is very easy to be involved in outdoor activities like fishing, skiing, skating and camping. I absolutely loved it. I was also involved in many sports in and out of school. By the time I was eight I was already selected as a player for a junior indoor Hockey Club.

Nevertheless about a year later I moved to London. This was a huge shock for me culturally. Over the next ten years my involvement in sport was non-existent. I decided that the only way I was going to get the fulfilment my peers and I wanted, was to do it myself and to work together. When I was studying at University I realised there was a gap in the market for adults, especially who did not feel the sports that were on offer was meaningful to them. So I decided to set up Run Fun Starz and never looked back since.

For the purpose of this blog I would like to keep it short and relevant. But if you would like to find out about my journey in more detail go to www.amiesamba.com. This is really about you. It is important that what I write is relevant to your journey in business or your dream job.

I will try my utmost to speak about it from my knowledge/experience and through the networks I have access to. It would be great to get an idea of what it is that you want me to cover in this section to help you? There will be times I will refer you to an article that I have already written if I have covered that topic before.

I hope you will find this section useful to you and look forward to hearing your requests.

Kind regards
Amie Samba

Amie won a Precious award for Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2012. The Precious awards was founded by Foluke Akinlose MBE to celebrate the achievements of inspirational entrepreneurial women of colour who are running businesses in the UK.

 

Amie Samba photo

BSc Sports Science with Psychology

June 2013



Where did you Study?

University of East London

What did you Study?

BSc Sports Science with Psychology

What year did you Graduate?

2009

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Short, smiley, sporty

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

When I finished Uni I was in the process of finishing off ideas I had for my business. At the same time I was job hunting because I still needed a way to financially support myself.  This period was probably one the toughest yet exciting parts of my life. Mainly because it was a new transitional stage in my life, where for the first time ever I was out of the routine that being in full time education gives you and that I really had to get my career and my life started. The first few months were so hard and I lacked a little confidence because job hunting was not going well. However, it spurred me on even more to ensure my business worked.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

Now I am running a sports company. I see myself doing it for the foreseeable as it takes time to set up a business with substantial success. I do have an exit plan but I’m nowhere near done. I am definitely in a dream job because I am leading a great team and enjoy what I do. I am working in my favourite field – sport.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

I think it has. If I did not go to Uni I probably would not have gained the depth of knowledge I have about my field. Neither would I have the confidence to run a sports company and the environment of Uni contributed to this – I met so many great people at Uni who inspired me. I know that there are many that had the complete opposite experience.

I think the use of Uni is really what you make it. In some industries it is much harder after you have graduated but the key is to make it work for you. Uni is not necessarily for everyone but the key is to understand that it doesn’t guarantee you success nor failure. In this economic climate having a degree might not make the world of difference so it is up to you to ensure you stand out whether you have a degree or not.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

I would say never give up. Be open minded about your options as you might discover another dream job that you didn’t think you would like. Be ready to prove yourself to employers as they are looking for people who go over and beyond expectations.


Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

My day ahead will consist of heading down to watch a lunch time footy competition in South East London for our customers. From there I will go on to a meeting with my colleagues. Then in the evening I will be hosting and delivering a Sport Up Net session; a monthly networking event for businesses and entrepreneurs who will be connecting through use of our sports games/activities.

That’s it. Amie, you have been wonderful.

Find more about Amie’s business, Run Fun Starz, here.

BA Social and Political Science. MA International Relations.

June 2013

Where did you Study?

I did a BA at Cambridge University and an MA at the University of Sussex a few years later

What did you Study?

The BA was in Social and Political Science and the MA was in International Relations

What year did you Graduate?

2003 from my first degree

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Big smile, ‘stocky’, ballerina feet

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

I went to Romania to help run a volunteer Teaching Programme. I had been a teacher on the Programme myself the summer before. I then travelled quite a bit around Europe before going to Japan to be a teacher on the JET Programme in a Japanese State school. I lived in a city between Kobe and Osaka for two years.

What made you start Young Charity Trustees? How did you go about forming this?

A few years ago I was finding it hard to find full-time work (at least, in something I really wanted to do). I was working as a private tutor in North London, mainly for the Tamil community. I saw an ad in the paper for committee members at a charity called Centre 404 which supports people with learning disabilities and their families. After a number of months to my great surprise I was asked to be a Trustee. Up to that point I hadn’t realised that younger people could be Trustees, I thought it was for retired people. I attended a national conference for Trustees and almost no-one there was my age. As I was really enjoying my role I wanted more young people to be able to experience it so I initially set up Young Charity Trustees (YCT) as a LinkedIn group to see if there was any demand. I was also interested in charities having a wider pool of talented people from which to draw. Over time interest steadily grew and I got a few volunteers, a website and became active on the topic on social media.

Why should a graduate become a trustee?

There are so many reasons. One is that it is a great opportunity to ‘give something back’. Whatever your passion it is likely that you will find a charity that will match it. Charities really need good people with a range of skills to support them and get involved. Also, being a Trustee looks great on your CV. As there are currently very few young trustees and the average age of Trustees in the country is 57, you are likely to stand out. Being a Trustee exposes you to a wide range of situations that will develop your skills. For example you might be doing things like helping to set the Budget for the charity you are working with, helping to develop their strategy, publicizing the work of the organisation etc. It is also likely that you will have responsibility at a higher level than in a graduate job. So for example even if you are in a job that you don’t enjoy or doesn’t utilize your skills, you can stop them from become rusty via a Trustee position. Of course the most rewarding thing of all about being a Trustee is seeing the real difference the charity makes.

You got the position of Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition late last year (Congratulations!) – can you tell the process you went through to get this?

Thank you! My aim had been to set up YCT as a fully-fledged charity. I wasn’t looking for other jobs and I was about to move back to my home town of Brighton to live with my family as I couldn’t survive in London without a regular income. I actually heard of this opportunity through the outgoing Chief Executive. As I had spoken at a Small Charities Coalition event via YCT, I already knew a little about the organisation and felt that my skills and interests would compliment it. I would have been thrilled just to get an interview, I didn’t expect to get the role. As I was preparing to apply, the more and more that I read made me more convinced that I would fit in well here. The Trustees who interviewed me, the Chair and Chair-elect, were good enough to see my potential, even though I am very far from the finished article and still have a great deal to learn.

Are you in your dream job? What are your future aspirations?

I am! Well, I suppose my dream job if I could imagine one from scratch would be a chocolate or wine-taster. But in this role I pretty much couldn’t think of something that more closely aligned with what I believe in and how I would prefer to spend my working day. I love being able to help small charities and small charities trustees, they do work which inspires me every day. I’m finding it fascinating to be a Chief Executive, it has been a steep learning curve but I’ve appreciated all of it. As for future aspirations: nothing concrete I’d mainly like to be able to keep learning as I have a very curious mind, and to be able to champion people who I think are doing a great deal of good and who deserve more recognition.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

Yes, definitely. For me, Uni was never a stepping stone to someone else, it was an opportunity to expand my mind. However I was luckier enough to have lower (but still high) fees when I attended. One of the things that I think graduates should be aware of/try to relax about is to realise that just because some of the things that they learn at university may not seem directly relevant in the first part of their careers, as they progress this will change. For example, I’m now 30 years old and I think some of the research and debate skills I picked up on my Cambridge degree are only now becoming useful for me professionally. I also think that many of the extra-curricular things I did at Uni- chiefly student politics- have helped me in my career. University exposed me to a much greater diversity of (brilliant) people, which certainly helps me with networking for my current role.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Yes, a few pieces of advice. The first one is that trite as it sounds, don’t give up. It is easy to look at people in work or in jobs that they enjoy and think that things have always been plain sailing for them. In the case of some lucky people it may be true. In the case of the majority though, including myself, it hasn’t been. When I first lived in London I didn’t have enough money for a travelcard at weekends. I filled my time with as many free things as I could. I nearly gave up and moved away but in the end I got a regular job and things started to pick up. The second is to try doing something outside of work which enhances your skills, (like Trusteeship) and crucially, allows you to meet a wide range of people. Young Charity Trustees gave me a legitimate excuse to contact all sorts of people and go to all sorts of things. Finally I’d say that one of the best practical things that you can do to inspire you is to get a mentor. I have a mentor and a leadership coach, both of whom are brilliant and I am also a mentor myself.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – or the day that you have had – just in case we might want to change our career path.

Today so far I have: – spoken to a BBC journalist who wants our help with a story.

– liaised with the Charity Commission about a quote for a press release.

– arranged to meet a number of people from other charitable organisations.

– promoted a few initiatives on social media including a ‘Women in Public Affairs’ network event I will be speaking at.

– replied to my mentee, who is on the Charityworks Programme.

Tonight I am off to City Hall for an NCVO event for Volunteers’ Week. If you would like to read a bit more about me, this is my blog alexswallow.wordpress.com

That’s it. Alex Swallow, you have been wonderful. 

Find out about Young Charity Trustees & how to become a Trustee, here: youngcharitytrustees.org

 

Business and Marketing Management

June 2013

Where did you Study?

Oxford Brookes University

What did you Study?

Business and Marketing Management

What year did you Graduate?

2011

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Long blonde hair

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

I turned 21 straight after I graduated so spent a good few weeks celebrating! After moving back home I spoke to a friend’s parent who owned a marketing agency. As luck would have it they were looking for a marketing exec and after a successful interview I was offered a 3 week paid internship, which I began a week later. By the end of July I had been offered a full-time position with them. I was so grateful to have landed such a great opportunity so soon after graduating and I stayed with the company for 13 months.

How long have you been at Inspiring Interns and why did you choose to intern there?

I finished at my previous position as I decided I wanted to take some time out to travel whilst I still had the opportunity. I wanted to experience working in central London, and hadn’t previously taken any time off so that seemed like an appropriate time to do so. I spent four amazing months in South America and returned home with the hope of finding a job and moving into the city. My main priority was finding a position and company that I really loved. It was not easy, and I spent a couple of months searching for something to no avail, until I was recommended Inspiring Interns. I applied for a couple of marketing opportunities including this one, and thankfully I was invited to interview. I knew instantly that this was the position for me.  I’ve been with Inspiring Interns for nearly 12 weeks now! Next week will be the last week of my internship, and the start of my full-time job here!

Can you highlight five things that experience as a Digital Marketing Intern with Inspiring Interns has taught you?

The key thing my internship has shown me is that it is possible to enjoy working life! ‘Work hard, play hard’ is a key component of the Inspiring ethos. My time here so far has allowed me to gain a wealth of experience in the industry whilst having a great time doing so.

The second thing would have to be all the things I’ve learnt, broadening my knowledge of digital marketing to cover new social media platforms and strategies.

Thirdly, the opportunity to experience new things and test myself. I hadn’t previously had any experience in writing for a company to a large audience and found the thought of doing so completely daunting. I now write weekly blogs for Inspiring and guest blog on behalf of the company, and what’s better is that I actually enjoy doing it.

Fourthly, the importance of communication. Whether it’s between teams, ensuring you communicate and work together to get a job done, or speaking up and asking your mentor for help.

And finally, to have confidence in my abilities!

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Firstly, stay positive! I think that was my biggest downfall whilst job hunting. It’s difficult not to get down when you spending every day looking for something that doesn’t seem to exist!

Job hunting is all about strategy. Every CV you send represents a small opportunity to catch an employer’s attention. Differentiate yourself as much as possible, demonstrate all the skills and experience you have, and the things you have achieved so far. Be creative; your main aim is to create a (positive) lasting impression.

Another thing I would recommend is utilising your connections. Granted, I was very lucky to have had that opportunity to interview so soon after graduating, but I wouldn’t have done so if I hadn’t asked. Your parents, siblings, aunties and uncles, mates and their mates; it all comes down to networking. Don’t be shy, if you know someone who works in an industry or position of interest, ask them for help or advice. There’s no harm in trying, plus it demonstrates initiative and determination! You can also network online – don’t hesitate to send employers and hiring managers messages on Twitter or LinkedIn. Innovate!

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

Next up on my agenda today is a Facebook post to promote one of our latest vacancies, before lunch in the park across the road! After that it’s back to the office to check on our social media activity, checking my emails and smoothie-drinking (Innocent stopped by this morning and kindly gave us a load). There’s a blog to be written about student accommodation in London as part of our SEO link-building strategy, sourcing of funny gifts to share with the team and thinking about new Google Adwords campaigns. All that mixed with a lot of coffee, singing along to the new Daft Punk album and polishing up a few internship specs to go on our site! All in the name of helping students and graduates to find internships in London and the UK.

That’s it. Hannah, you have been wonderful. 

Find out about Inspiring Interns here: inspiringinterns.com

Drama (Theatre, Film, Television)

May 2013

Where did you Study?

University of Bristol

What did you Study?

Drama (Theatre, Film, Television)

What year did you Graduate?

2012

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Slim, Ickle, Brown Hair (that’s 4 words?)

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

As soon as I had finished my degree and before the end of term, I was immediately on a plane to the US, where I worked my third year at a US Summer Camp (Camp Airy) as Drama Department Head. It was a real retreat after such hard work and was nice that I didn’t have to think about the real world until my return in September.

When I came back from the US I worked at Crow Theatre as an Assistant Producer on a site specific production called ‘Jack the Ripper’s London’. It was very minimal pay and I had to work really long hours doing lots of tasks I didn’t really want to do. I stayed until the end of the show run, then got an internship with Youth Music Theatre UK; I was an intern for five and a half months, before being offered a part time position, fixed term contract. For the last three months of being an intern at YMT I was also interning at Battersea Arts Centre, in producing/production. I was working on a range of projects, whilst taking the lead on their Freshly Scratched festival. I did have to do a lot of bits and bobs and they only covered £5 a day of expenses… For interviews I have had however, people have been very interested that I interned there – I am sure the name has helped me to get more interviews.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I am working as a Production Assistant for Youth Music Theatre UK. I am also working on an independent theatre project with other graduates from my course to be put on at the end of the year.

I would like to find a more permanent job, which is using my creativity more. I am looking at various producing jobs and would like to get some professional directing experience. I am very interested in both paths.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

I think it has helped me to be a more confident person, which has definitely helped with interviews and to contact professionals for coffee meets. I am definitely far more knowledgeable about the arts because of going to Uni. I think it would have been even harder to have got an internship without having gone.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

In the arts, it is so easy to give up – but I urge anyone who is passionate about what they want to do, not to. It may be a long slog and there may be a lot of crap to do before you make something of yourself, but you have set out on this track for a reason. Even if you have to support yourself with evening or weekend work doing something you don’t want to do, it is worth it for your ultimate goal. If you are not from a big city such as London, don’t feel you can’t ask your friends who are more fortunate to have a base to crash at theirs for a bit. They should want to help if they can. Just make sure you are appreciative. If you are a hard worker, it does go noticed, and whilst it may not pay off in the short term, eventually it will. Keep positive and don’t lose the momentum – I think that is the biggest risk. I find it really helps to talk to others in the same situation so that you know you aren’t alone, because you really aren’t. Everyone who is just out of Uni is in the same boat, unless they are a special exception who has been very lucky. With hard work, luck will eventually come your way.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

I got into work at 10am, where Bad Education were in the building filming their new series. I dealt with several calls from parents regarding queries about the projects their children are on with us this Summer. I put together a pastoral box for an upcoming casting weekend, consisting of skills and details of all the young people on the project. Lots of cutting and sticking, creating photo grids of everyone in the cast!

That’s it. Simon, you have been wonderful.

English, Journalism and Creative Writing

May 2013

Where did you Study?

Strathclyde University

What did you Study?

English, Journalism and Creative Writing

What year did you Graduate?

2011

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

This is the most difficult question of the whole interview! Um…hair, eyes, mouth?

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

I didn’t get the chance to cry into my Coco Pops every morning – as soon as I finished my exams, I was transferred to a different department in work to ensure I got the full-time hours I needed to, you know, pay the bills and stuff.  For reasons still unknown to myself, I ended up choosing to work nightshift rather than backshift and it was such a culture shock to me that by the time graduation rolled around, I was using up all my energy trying to get used to that, rather than thinking about my time at University ending. As a result, I neglected thinking about what I was going to do next.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

At the moment, I am still working in the same place that I did throughout University, though luckily back in my old department and off the nightshift.  It’s not my dream job and I never imagined I’d still be here six years later, but I do enjoy it.  It’s a decent job with good pay and enough variety to keep me interested for the moment.

What is my dream job?  Well (un)luckily for you lovely After Uni people, you have caught me going through a bit of a quarter life crisis!  I don’t know what I want to do.  I want to do everything and not being able to focus on one thing is making it difficult to chase my dream job.  I want to be a film critic, a radio presenter, a runner, a producer, a writer and more recently a counsellor/social worker (which is a bit different from my other ambitions!).  At the moment I’m trying to decide exactly where I want to go and what I want to do, but as decision-making isn’t one of my strengths in my personal life, it is hindering me somewhat.  At the moment, I’m considering re-training as a counsellor/social worker and keeping my other ambitions as something to do in my spare time, then see where it all leads.

I can see myself in my current job for at least another year, which I’m okay with, but I wish I had seriously considered what I wanted to do with the rest of my life a bit earlier, rather than wasting over a year moaning about nightshift (in case you haven’t realised yet, I REALLY hated nightshift!), as it is now coming up to two years since I graduated and I haven’t progressed massively, career-wise.  On the plus side, I have managed to gain some experience by writing for websites, attending media courses and more recently, presenting my own weekly show on my local community radio station.  So it’s not all bad!

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

Not in the sense of my employment, as I got my job before I started University. In a personal sense however, definitely.  I gained so much more confidence, became less afraid to question and confront things I didn’t agree with, made a lot of great friends and managed to gain experience in lots of different things to help me realise what I liked and what I didn’t like (for example, I was Head of Research for my student radio station, which was fantastic).

I would recommend going to University to anyone, however I would also strongly advise that you seriously consider your course before you go, rather than picking something ‘just because you’re good at it’.  You’re good at it, but do you like it?  Will it lead anywhere?  I wish I had thought that through a bit more.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

My advice to my fellow graduates is to take the time to sit down, work out exactly what it is you want to do and what is the best route to get there.

Want to be an Accountant?  Go and chase some graduate schemes. Want to work in Communications?  Try and gain some voluntary experience via a charity. Want to be a Writer?  Make the spare time to do it and search for publications that accept contributions. Want to work in Media?  Gain some experience via websites, community radio stations, independent film companies and so on. All of these things will help you build up experience and contacts and who knows where it will lead?

Don’t worry about the length of time it will take to get somewhere, or else you’ll be passing up opportunities which would have taken you a lot further than simply doing nothing.

As for graduates struggling to get an interview for ANY job (of which I know a few) – don’t apply for absolutely everything.  Job-hunting fatigue will set in and it will come across in your applications.  Cherry-pick a few jobs which sound right for you and put the time aside to really concentrate on your application, it will make it sound fresher and sound as if you do really want the job, rather than just sounding as though you’re sending an identical cover letter/CV to twenty different companies at once.

If you’re like me and you still don’t know exactly what you want to do – then I have no advice, but plenty of sympathy!

I might not be a shining example of it at the moment, but I truly believe that if you desperately want something and you put in the work and the dedication to get there, then anything is possible.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

My day ahead involves getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning (that’s 5.45 to you and me), heading to work to do yet another ten hour shift as we’re short-staffed at the moment, standing on my feet all day and running about like a loony; before going home to prepare for my radio show at the weekend and finally collapsing on the couch to watch some mindless television. So don’t consider changing your career path to mine just yet!

That’s it. Sam, you have been wonderful. 

BA Philosophy, MA Film Studies with Screenwriting

May 2013

Where did you Study?

The University of Sheffield (undergraduate), Sheffield Hallam University (postgraduate)

What did you Study?

BA Philosophy, MA Film Studies with Screenwriting.

(although my initial agree was actually BSc Psychology. I changed courses after two years)

What year did you Graduate?

BA – 2011, MA – 2012

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Short, youthful, pale (?)

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

Well I didn’t submit my dissertation until mid-late August, so I was working on that with the odd trip to see friends over summer. After that, I was mainly applying to jobs (but had to move back home to do so). I guess I had technically only been out of Uni a week or two when I got an interview and was offered the job that I’m still in. So it was a mixture of applying for jobs and indulging myself at home (lots of food and tv/film) for that very, very short period of time.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I’m doing admin for an Arts/Media company. I’ve been lucky in the sense that it’s related to the sector I want to work in and also the opportunities and contacts that have come with it (side-projects, a work trip to Germany, etc.). However, I hopefully won’t be doing it much longer. I’m at the stage now where I’m just about starting to look and indeed apply elsewhere.

I’m not in my dream job because I’m only just over half-a-year out of Uni and… unless your dream job is low-level, then that’s almost impossible to achieve. Though, as I say, first step on the ladder, certainly not complaining. Hopefully it’s London next from here though.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

To an extent. I don’t know how much a degree affects things considering their commonness these days, but hopefully an MA does. Still, I would have struggled to get initial work experience without a degree in the right area I reckon.

I don’t know if I would go now with the increased fees and there are definitely alternatives out there, but I think many people out there are far too quick to dismiss their University experience. They don’t really realise how much it’s changed them and how much they have grown. It’s clichéd but true (at least in my case) to say that it was about way, way more than the learning experience. Even though I did learn and develop, you can’t really put a price figure on experiences, friendships and other opportunities that simply wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Well forgetting dream jobs for a moment, the application process is tough, it can be disheartening. I don’t have anything groundbreaking or majorly insightful to say. It would be wrong for me to assert that something amazing will definitely come up, but if you’ve got good experience and such, then just keep applying – trying to improve each time – and you’ll get there eventually. I found it really daunting thinking that I needed to be the very best candidate out there to get the job, but it’s best not to think like that really. It’s all about getting interviews and grabbing opportunities from there. You might get none for ages and then two or three in a few weeks. There’s no one way of doing things or magic trick to it, as far as I can tell.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

Oh I don’t know, it’s gone pretty quickly. It’s all admin stuff, you know? Data and invoices and applications and such. I’m about to go have lunch, then do a couple of hours more and then I’m off home. My job – unlike a fair few others – doesn’t have the strings attached of added hours and long evenings, fortunately. I will be doing some writing of my own later this evening though.

That’s it. Michael, you have been wonderful. 

MA Magazine Journalism

April 2013

Where did you Study?

City University London

What did you Study?

MA Magazine Journalism

What year did you Graduate?

2012

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Eyes, arms, Anonymous.

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

After my BA I was just another lost graduate. I saved money by, ha…it’ll sound weird…I did fire dancing outside nightclubs, and moved to Mexico, by myself, for two years. I wanted to be bilingual; I felt oddly frustrated having only one language. Weird impulse I know, I didn’t even know anyone there. I’d also had a friend kill himself, so leaving the country didn’t seem like such a big deal – and as I felt like there were no career prospects, it seemed like a good time to go. I studied Spanish for a few months then I got a few teaching hours and my own place. The recession got way worse while I was there so I stuck around until I became totally fluent, but I had no future there; although journalism was something I was interested in, journalists tend to get murdered in Mexico! The cartels moved into my city and started tearing the place up around the time I started thinking of going home. I taught English for extra cash and kept getting classes cancelled because of cartels hanging around looking to kidnap people where I worked. It all sounds terribly dramatic seeing it all written down, but it was actually quite a tranquil time, so much so that I got bored and started missing London a lot.

I came home, bilingual, penniless and triumphant at having avoided getting kidnapped! I also realised journalism was a path I wanted to follow full time, so I started saving to do a Masters in London, which took about a year and a half.

After graduating, I spent half my time freelancing and half my time descending into a state of panic – why haven’t I got a job yet? What if I never do? Have I wasted £9000 on a Masters I’ll never use? After two months, I got a temporary job overseas and came home early this year.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

I’m not in my dream job. That’s why my name is How To Be Jobless. I’m a writer, blogger and I produce videos, and I’m best when the style is humorous.

After coming home to London, I was out of work for three weeks before I knew I had to start something like HTBJ (howtobejobless.wordpress.com), or I’d lose my mind. Most people go months before they have genuine concerns for their sanity, but I couldn’t get my mind off the question, “How long can I let this go on? What if I never get anything?”

I’m now working towards a deadline to get a job. A steady, everyday “I’m a journalist at…” job. I have 10 months left.

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

Yes. I’m as trained as it’s possible to be with only a couple of years experience. But where I am now is on the side of unemployed and desperate for work – rather than the other side, overworked and desperate for help. 2013 is a silly time, isn’t it?

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Laugh about it. It’s funny. It’s horrible, humiliating and soul-destroying, but it’s funny. We’re in a situation that is completely unworkable and unsustainable – how do we change it? George Orwell said, “Every joke is a tiny revolution”. That’s where I’m starting. Jokes are powerful – they gradually reveal that the way things are is ridiculous. Whereas placards and marches have a success rate only marginally higher than rubbing a lamp.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

I will be calling the HR departments of jobs I have applied for to check I haven’t gone into their junk mail. Since they never reply to say they have received an application, I can’t be sure unless I call. If everyone did this we’d waste just enough of their time that they’d realise responding is quicker.

This afternoon I’ll be filming the How To Be Jobless ‘About’ video with a fabulous Welsh actor called Gethin Alderman. I will also probably tweet a lot, as I aspire to make my pyjama’d people laugh as they do what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day: searching for a job and, if I can possibly find one that doesn’t include the word “intern” or “senior”, applying for it.

And I’m not in an office so I’ll be singing “Loveshack”, and loudly.

That’s it. How To Be Jobless, you have been wonderful.

English & Creative Writing

April 2013

Where did you Study?

University of Portsmouth

What did you Study?

English & Creative Writing

What year did you Graduate?

2010

So we can feel more intimate, three words to describe your physical appearance.

Brunette, Glasses, Short

What did you do when you left Uni? Be brutally honest! If you cried into a bowl of cereal every morning & treated your local pub like your favourite Uni nightclub, say so.

I actually left Uni with a lot of enthusiasm and pep; I was ready to be ‘out there’, to be someone, to do something.  I stayed in Portsmouth for the first year, working in admin and hanging out with most of my old social circle.  Then in 2011 the boyfriend and I moved away – I was gutted, but he had been offered a great opportunity and we had to go.  Now we live in Basingstoke and I, after a soul destroying stint in retail, am unemployed. However, I still have my energy: I write for a bunch of different websites, I manage two of my own and I remain optimistic that ‘my chance’ will come along someday.

I do get incredibly jealous when my younger sister, who still has a year and a bit left of her studies, talks about University life though. Sometimes I’m glad it’s over, and at others I’d give anything to go back. The thing I miss the most are the friendships which have faded due to time and geography – people who meant so much to me a few years ago barely speak to me now, but it’s partly my own fault for not working harder to stay in touch.

What are you doing now and how long do you see yourself doing it for? Are you in your dream job? If not yet, what is this?

This is a tricky question. Officially, I am unemployed and currently looking for anything that will pay the bills – admin, retail etc; that, I hate. I want to have a career, not a job.

Alongside this, I am still applying for jobs in my dream industry, publishing. However, it is a highly competitive market, and I keep getting knocked back by companies who tell me that I don’t have enough experience. I was Editor of my University newspaper for three years, how much more experience do they want?  People suggest that I apply for one of the internships on offer, and I’d love to, but I cannot afford to work unpaid for even two weeks, let alone a year. It’s not snobbery, it’s being practical. That can get disheartening sometimes.

So, I do what I can to get along. I have always loved dogs and wanted to work for a canine publication, so, in order to build up my CV and demonstrate my skills, I sort of started my own! DogsInTheNews.co.uk now has over 3450 Twitter followers and I have been to Crufts the past three years as a member of the press. Running this website and writing about dogs all day IS my dream job, and I would make a full time career out of it if I could, but there is, once again, that pesky little problem of rent…

Do you think Uni has helped you to be where you are now?

Yes and no. Yes because during those three years I gained a lot of experience and knowledge, both in the lecture theatres and out!  Without being on the University paper I would never have gained valuable insight into the publishing world and without my lecturers suggesting it, I would have never have started a personal blog, which lead to the creation of Dogs In The News.

No, because my degree has not translated into the shortcut into the job market which I was lead to believe it would.  In all honesty, getting a job at 17 as an admin assistant on a local paper might have meant that I was further up the ladder three years on. Now I’m not even ON the ladder, and I’m applying for jobs that I could do without having got the degree.

Overall though, I am glad I went.  I wouldn’t trade those three years of life experience and learning for anything, and even if I never use it, I earned my degree and no one can take that away from me.

Any advice for graduates who aren’t yet in their dream jobs or still battling against this rubbish economy for just an interview?

Hey, if I knew the secrets, I’d be living the dream, right?  The main thing I would say is don’t give up. Just because no one will hire you doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer.  You can’t lounge around all day feeling sorry for yourself.

Do things that will make you stand out and give you something to talk about when you eventually do get an interview. Go to relevant industry events, start a blog, sell your homemade handbags on eBay; just be proactive. You will have days when you feel worthless and like there’s no point, but job hunting is like dating; when you meet ‘The One’, you’ll be grateful that everybody else turned you down. Keep an eye out for opportunities and seize the chances you get.

Finally, if you would be so kind, tell us briefly about your day ahead – just in case we might want to change our career path.

I usually start my day off with a bout of job hunting, sending out applications and following up on opportunities. If I’m feeling ambitious I will go for a run or do some housework. At around midday, update my Dogs In The News Twitter feed and respond to emails and messages (I used to do this in my lunch hour at work). I will then write an average of 2 – 4 articles a day, usually doggie news but sometimes for other websites (my personal blog is terribly neglected, something which I aim to remedy on a daily basis but never seem to get around to!).  In the evenings I will either write some more or read a book or watch TV. The next day I filter through the rejection letters and start the whole process again!

That’s it. Laura, you have been wonderful.

Bed Hopping in London.

Mission: To complete an unpaid Internship in London.

As we all know and hear constantly, if you want to work in the Arts, get yourself to big L-town where dreams are made of, in high-rise, shiny buildings. I have a passion for the Arts but I was born and my family reside, in Somerset, where dreams are not so much shiny, but muddy and with wellies.

One day, I went on a job and internship applying rampage, without thinking of the consequences. Sometimes rejection has this ability to make you feel that you can do anything, regardless of what is “practical”, a word that is said to me a lot as a Drama Studies Graduate, living in a rural and remote part of the West Country. I opened up my email a few days later and received an interview for a national youth theatre company; yes – my efforts were not wasted… except I quickly discovered it was unpaid (bar expenses), for a minimum of three months and in that shiny L-town of dreams.

Something had happened to me the same year that put fight in me. I took off my mud trodden wellies and threw practical out of my vocabulary; I begged friends and family living in London for their homes and beds. Of course, it definitely helps to know kind people. (After Uni rule no 1: make time for friends and family, you never know when they can help you.)

This is my bed-hopping tale.

 

Bed One: the Spare.

Duration of Stay: Over a month.

With: Zara and Ian*.

The couple who allowed me my very first experience of London living, were owners of a lovely, modern apartment; with my very own bathroom, I started my London challenge in luxury, extremely grateful.

I rekindled my old Vegetarian ways and learnt again how to live without meat; I had practiced for ten years, realising at a young age that sheep in a cattle lorry were not being transported for a holiday. I enjoyed cooking for the couple and repaying their generosity through cuisine.

Friday nights were lovely, drinking wine, standing out on the balcony, looking out on a large 9-hole golf course and soaking up the unusual London quiet which came from being hidden away from the main street. However, it just didn’t feel right invading the couples personal space for so long, so I left early.

Bed/beds two: the Makeshifts.

Duration of stay: One month.

With: Laura and Joe*.

The original bed, a rather hard Airbed which took two hours to blow up, got demoted into a bean bag, after one night waking up and discovering it had deflated.

These ‘beds’ were in the ‘junk room’ of my cousin’s home; my cousin, is an obsessive compulsive hoarder, she collects all manner of things. A number of clocks telling different times decorated every room and each wall; Crocs in every colour and duplicates in her favourite shades, suffocated in a ‘shoe’ closet/hid in shame; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups packed the kitchen cupboards; Harry Potter Lego creations stood on the floor, waiting to be completed by its Harry Potter Lego crazed owners, three house cats, Molly, Freddy and George (two ginger brothers named after this obsession) rubbed and purred along an assault course of collections.

As a result of the ‘junk’ covering radiators (though I couldn’t be sure they existed), I was literally freezing going to sleep. Nintendo games, toys and boxes cocooned me, but not in warmth. I remember the cold now and questioning whether I could ever survive an igloo.

One morning, I woke up with little pin-prick rashes all over my body and a few days of it proceeding to get progressively worse, I spent two hours in a walk-in doctors in Clapham to be told that I was allergic to “something”, though it was difficult to eliminate what this was. I continued my evening routine of cuddling Molly for warmth and love, but with antihistamines as protection.

On my final night, having worked fourteen hours with only a lunch break, feeling comatosed, I fought with the key in the lock but the door would just not open.  I rang my cousin who looked out the window, in the next block of flats.

Bed three: my Work Colleague.

Stay: One night.

With: Stephen*

This was the result of a works Christmas party, but did not result in nudity as one would expect. I wrapped myself in a sheet in the early hours of the morning, quivering in the spare room, horribly drunk.

Stephen was my best intern friend. He saved me from walking intoxicated, past the ominously dark path, heading away from the main road and lined with suspicious smelling high-rise flats, which were home to bed number two. He came back to the latter with me, accompanying me on my ‘walk of shame’ the next morning and waited with my cousins junk, accompanied by Molly, Freddie and George, whilst I got changed. Stephen proved to be the perfect gentleman I had waited so long to meet. I walked into work with him, carefree and in love; Stephen was also my gay best friend.

‘Bed’ four: the Floor.

Duration of stay: Over a week

With: Ruby and Min*

I never thought that I could sleep on a floor, unless camping or drunk. Ruby and Min’s floor was surprisingly welcoming and I could have stayed longer.

A small first floor, modest flat, with pairs of shoes lined up outside the door. An assortment of Chinese and Korean food (the origins of the home’s occupants) was made for me and it was, in Somerset terms, “gert lush”.

There was nothing that the couple did not do for me, not that I was giving orders!

One night Ruby was out with work friends, so I had the sole pleasure of Mins company for the evening. I tried to ‘culture’ him on English television and he sat through Eastenders and Celebrity Big Brother. I am so sorry I failed you Min.

Bed five: the Pop Up.

Duration of stay: A couple days.

With: Adriana*

A bizarre sleeping situation – my friend’s friend Auntie’s house.

The friend of the friend had gone away and she was residing in the house (with permission of course!).

A short walk to work from this house, it was the perfect location. However as Adriana only had one key I left for work with her; Adriana started at 8.30am and left the house at 7.30am, I started at 10.am. Two and a half hours wait before work outweighed a fifteen minute walk and I wheeled my suitcase back onto London streets…

Bed Six: My Friend’s Brother’s.

Stay: Over a month.

Sharing with: The ‘R’ Family*

My friends brother – Wait! – had kindly swapped beds with my friend, his double, in exchange for her single pink bed.

My friend and I got to spoon again, after months of sharing a bed to make sure each other awoke through the hard times of Uni, year three. What with me being so tall and my friend small, we fitted together like yin and yang; or rather, my friend gave my long legs and bottom, room to fit.

The family, became my family; my Indian family.

This was definitely a family home. The house was always warm and inviting and the food was incredible and of ample quantity, to share and to pick up, sociably, with hands and chapattis. I rekindled my Vegetarianism yet again and can honestly say, I did not miss meat. I stood in awe of my new Indian ‘Mummy’, as she taught me new cooking skills and educated me on new, wondrous foods and ways to add meat substitutes other than Quorn.

My experience at a national theatre company had come to an end and I left London, having consumed my weight in chapattis. My internship had given me plumbing skills, an immunity to Junk and a tale of bed-hopping survival, not to mention a heavily bloated stomach.

Bed Seven: ?

Stay: ?

Sharing with: ?

Please, future Employers, let the next bed be mine.

*Names are made up to protect identity and stop potential lodgers.