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.

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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.

Journalism

April 2013

Where did you Study?

Sheffield Hallam University

What did you Study?

Journalism

What year did you Graduate?

2012

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

Tall, blonde and big geeky glasses.

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 first left I was really excited about achieving something as big as getting a degree and excited about having some time to myself and then starting my career. I went on a long holiday and then I went travelling. The summer was great, but as time has gone on and I’ve not been able to find a job, things do not look as rosy as they did back then. I’ve spent the last 7 months applying for jobs in journalism, admin, retail and all with no luck at all. So I’m currently unemployed, blogging and writing online while trying to find a job, even if not in journalism, just for some extra cash.

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 unemployed and looking for a job, in any sector, to get some more money. I do write my own blog very regularly and write for an online magazine, both of which are giving me lots of experience of writing. I love doing both, but I would love something better in terms of having an actual paying journalism job. My dream job is to work for a music/fashion magazine so that is what I write about online. Collecting experience and improving my writing is the one thing I can do to further my career while not being in a job right now.

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

I don’t think University has helped with getting a job. I didn’t have the best time at University; I didn’t really enjoy it and although I worked hard, I didn’t come out of the 3 years all that well. I think degrees are definitely worthwhile, however I wish I had gone to a different University to gain my degree now.

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

Keep trying, keep working hard, keep gaining experience in any way you can; write your own blog, write for an online magazine, get work experience at a local paper etc. Finding experience is harder than people make out, I have my emails ignored all the time, but I guess you just have to be persistent and keep writing, even if it’s not for a job, because you need to keep your writing skills sharp.

Don’t lose hope, it is disheartening, but we will all get there in the end, as long as we work hard and refuse to give up on our dream.

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 be spent finalising blog posts for the next couple of weeks, getting an article published up on the online magazine I write for, thinking of more ideas for stories, writing articles up for the ideas I’ve already had, applying for some jobs, searching job boards and emailing around to try and secure a work experience placement.

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

When is enough, Enough?

Reading football club are offering nearly a years internship to a Performance Analysis or Sports Science postgraduate with the offering of no payment and no expenses. They must ‘have access to their own car’ and ‘work unsociable hours’, as well as have ‘previous experience of working in professional/semi-pro football’; the latter suggesting that they might have already worked for free, going by other premier league club ‘offers’ and granted experience in general. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/22125015

Three years of study and experience is just not enough. I feel like our choice to study has committed us to shackles; a Graduate sentence must be completed before we are released, whilst those in power of our fate shout “Must do better”. Mr Selfridge, lets call him, dangles a carrot from a string as we pant excitedly to start what we thought was our final capture and struggle for breath, money and sanity, near the eventual finish.

An internship on a CV seems almost compulsory these days to accompany a degree, like a cracker without cheese; on it’s own, Mr Selfridge takes one look and asks “what the hell am I supposed to do with just that?”, not even willing to try it’s herby and adventurous garnish. So when you do complete an internship, the two together should satisfy even the fussiest of appetites, you would hope.

Supposedly Entry and Graduate level jobs and sometimes the more accurately titled ‘Trainee’, specify a minimum of years work experience; either that’s a long internship or it’s a good few. Six months satisfies the eye better than three months, but does that apply for the process, what the candidate did and what they learnt?

During my three months as Production Assistant in London, I volunteered my time on weekends and on one occasion just before Christmas, for over fourteen hours, without any breakfast or dinner break. At the end of the performance I agreed to go back in a taxi to the company’s residence and unload it all. I spent my evenings in the run up to this Christmas performance making a programme to sell. I also wrote back to young people when they wrote to me, uncertain if they should audition because of their experience and ability, with absolute encouragement that they should, making sure that care and enthusiasm was received in each email.

Completing the internship was a process that I also gave my all to achieve. Living in Somerset and without a rich family, I lugged myself and my suitcase around, staying with all the friends and relations I knew. I slept on four different beds, one floor and a beanbag in my cousins self-named Junk Room, accomplished a fear for the tube, for the capital and for surviving on my own; is what I really want to write on my application.

Nearly a couple of months have passed and I still don’t feel my degree accompaniments are appealing enough, due to one interview for another internship (but paid) and one, in Luton, which I decided I couldn’t do, due to a two days a week contract and no guarantee for other financial support right away. I have been applying for other internships, but when can you guarantee enough is enough?

To a Mr Selfridge out there, please I ask you, think with your heart and not your belly, be a little adventurous and ask us about the process we took to get where we are so far.