Square one: The recent graduate, futile self pep talks and one very worn-out refresh button.


July 2015.

The tally so far stood as following: Laptops broken: 1 (we’re not counting all the other years okay). Mama noodles packets ravaged: 55. Cups of tea: stopped counting. Glasses of morning wine: didn’t bother trying to count. All-nighters spent with head in a book (on table): more than is acceptable.

And one more thing. A degree.

After four years of:

“Oh my god I think this coursework might be the actual cause of my sudden and untimely death”

(tragic)…and

“I sat on the library floor from 3-6 am and very nearly ordered a Dominoes to the main entrance” (a majestic thing to witness, and yes, I’ve seen it with my own eyes),

also not forgetting the classic…

“What do you mean ‘Did I turn the page?!”

I had finally graduated alongside some of my nearest and dearest; WE HAD DONE IT.

fort fun graduate
Stepping up in the world (literally hehe)

My friends and I were finally ready (eek!) to join the world of post-Higher Education employment. In other words it was time to find a nice suit, stop waking up at noon and start publicising our  current working status (very available) to the job market; aka armed and ready with a good bachelors degree, big dreams, a well-rounded skills set and plenty of ambition.

And so here begins the trials and tribulations of the search for a door to wedge (with brute force) my foot in.

This is not a story (or rant, don’t worry) about how it is just IMPOSSIBLE for a recent graduate to find employment right after finishing university, nor is this a tale of woe. In case you’re wondering I did find a good job and I didn’t have to wait too long to join the 9-5 community/daily grind/hustle of the real world, that is not to say it didn’t feel like

f o r e v e r.

Rosé getting me through the rough times
When the going gets tough, the tough drink wine, lots of wine

Studying languages, I have always found myself in an environment where the more you know the better; okay so that goes without saying.

What I mean is, the more you expose yourself to a new culture, the more you allow yourself to be taken in by a language, the more you let it take over and become part of yourself, the better. Once you have that down, don’t stop there! Don’t ever stop. Keep learning more languages and more and more. Take the time, really master the language; languagES, and let them take you where you want to be – let them open doors for you!

I still believe in this, and for the most part it’s true. The nature of my degree imposed on me a mindset that what I possess is valuable, and every response to ‘I study languages’ was usually met with expressions of

‘Wow really? You’ll find a job no problem’

‘Everyone’s after language graduates, there’s a HUGE demand for bilingual employees these days’

‘How do you say 2 beers please in Spanish?’

Okay the last one was my Dad, and he already knew the answer to that one anyway -_-

IMG_20170830_104950
This cheeky chap needs no dictionary!

My point however is, I was under the rather foolish illusion (WAS I REALLY THE ONLY ONE?) that by becoming a graduate with language skills, the doors, or most of them, would not exactly swoosh open at my presence, but not be as difficult as they were to budge; the options would be plentiful, and more importantly attainable,  and the idea of a bilingual candidate would excite an employer, maybe even as much as seeing ‘Expert knowledge of Microsoft Excel’ on a CV.

To be fair leaving the Uni bubble (and eating cold Dom’s pizza for breakfast) was a huge lesson in itself.

…Apparently it’s now all about on-the-go coffee, ‘I don’t have time for Coco-Pops’ and granola honey goji berry vitamin whatever yoghurt from EAT/Starbucks/anywhere that charges a fiver for breakfast a la express.

Fact is, there were many other individuals with the same thought-process and skill-set as myself. Competition in London was also a factor I didn’t really give much pre-thought to. And unlike some of my companions at University, on different courses, I didn’t have a trade as such. I was interested in translation (and still very much so) but as the interviews became more frequent and the follow-up emails less so (if, at all) I started to become somewhat disheartened, and there was definitely a sense of

‘Do I not have that much to offer afterall?’

Which was probably the worst thing to contemplate.

graduation
Me thinking about future prospects and exciting career opportunities and probably (definitely) celebratory cake and booze

On returning home to suburbia I found myself in a bit of pattern; or funk, to be more specific. On a high from graduation, I was determined to do something with my degree, and invest all my time into searching for that first job, the first foot on the ladder of employment; to make the first connection to the big wide world. Illusions aside, I had been fairly proactive and practical about the whole thing (I was shocked at my behaviour too) and became literally attached to my phone (not just for the dank memes); constantly connected to my inbox and spamming every opportunity of interest there was on LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster; and every other dependable source. I was invited to a number of interviews to places I genuinely would have liked the chance to work at, but in most cases, unfortunately,  ‘it just wasn’t meant to be’.

At first it was only a little knock of reality to my self-esteem, which drove me even more in interviews, and the more I went to, the more confidence I actually gained. The process is pretty similar in most cases, and there are only so many questions they can ask you right? WRONG

“If you could be a type of pasta what would you be?”

**painful British silence of more than 5 seconds**

“The one that looks like the bow-tie?”

**sends self into exile with new found hate for Farfalle**

Kay that was a bit different but even with that particular interview, I walked out unperturbed. Bemused somewhat, but overall unperturbed. Without sounding like every life guru out there with one published book and obnoxious YouTube channel, the key is confidence and to forget the nerves, and also to NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Something in which I still have room for improvement.

I will admit the constant rejection did become a little demoralising and a lot demotivating. My family and friends were a great support and viewed my struggle for employment with a lot more understanding than I did;

“You’ll find something soon”

“Maybe you just didn’t fit their profile”

“It’s always difficult at the beginning”

These phrases that frustrated me so much at the time, I look back on now with a sense of gratitude, because even if it was just to keep me motivated at the time, it worked, as they all turned out to be true. And why did I feel that I deserved the right to be hired, just for being a graduate? It’s not just something that happens by itself, and competition is fierce. It really is a reality that looking for a job is a job in itself; and you do have to give it your all.

Moment of Pride
Making Mum and Dad proud (I also didn’t trip up on stage that day so that’s an achievement I’d like to be recognised)

So I gradually got over it like an adult (by eating every Cornetto in the freezer and pretending I was too busy to go to the pub – it was a sad time)  and tried to find what it was that made me   •·.·´¯`·.·•SPECIAL•·.·´¯`·.·• 

**VOM**

Looking back at my degree I tried to identify skills which could be applicable to the job positions I was coming across, and it was then that the market started to give me a bit more of a chance. Once this discovery was made (took me long enough) I went to work in finding… well, work and I gradually got the hang of the whole employment malarky. Turns out being on my four year course had taught me a lot more things, and provided me with a lot more skills than language acquisition (and that by the way is a lot harder than dos cervezahs por favah) – turns out theres a few things that are very applicable to an array of sectors. TURNS OUT I GOT A FEW TRICKS UP MY SLEEVE.

Those sneaky language lovin lot in Park Building.

Here’s to all the crazy teachers who restored our faith in life after every horrific speaking exam, and family and friends who kept us going for four years, along with the dream, and yes, why not the reality, that the world can be our oyster if we really want it to be.

 

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