So this is an unscheduled post (read: rant…) that I have been debating writing for some time now, but today I have decided it’s time to get this off my chest because I am deeply unhappy.
As you may be aware, I graduated this summer with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Graphic Communications from a good university with good employment ratings in a field where there are still a fair amount of jobs going despite the recession. And yet, here I am, almost five months later, having just been rejected for yet another design job and feeling incredibly frustrated, stressed and plain old fed up.
The process of finding a job has always been difficult. You have to find suitable vacancies, spend hours (often just on one application) filling out the application forms, etc. and then the real hardship begins. Some jobs send out almost instant rejections, making you question if they took a proper look at your application. This in my experience is usually from agencies. Others never get back to you at all. Sometimes, just sometimes, you get an interview. I have applied to at least twenty jobs for every interview I have had. And I don’t get as many as I’d like.
After the stress of preparing for, getting to and then doing the interview, comes the even more stressful waiting game. There is always dread, mixed with optimism. This optimism leads you to start to plan the new life you will have now that you have finally got the dream job, the other part of you tries to ignore these day dreams as they make it so much worse when the rejection comes. But you have to dream, you have to plan, because if the job is a reasonable distance away, (which for me, they almost always are as where I live has almost no design jobs going) you have to be prepared to answer questions about what you would do if you were offered the job there. They want to see that you are committed enough to move or commute.
The rejection inevitably leaves you doubting both yourself and your abilities. The smart thing to do, which I always do, is to ask for feed back to see what you can do to improve your chances of finding a job in the future. I haven’t yet received the feedback from this interview, but up until the one before that, no-one actually gave me any constructive criticism. They would tell me that they liked me and that they liked my work, but that they thought someone else was slightly better suited. The previous interviewer told me that it came down to me and one other girl, who they chose because of her software skills. After reflecting on this, I realised I had been extremely critical of my software skills and had been putting myself down.
With design interviews there is often a practical task element to test these skills and at this particular interview, the task had been very suited to me and I completed it in the set time and was complimented on what I produced. I didn’t lack the skills or I wouldn’t have done it so well. That meant one of two things; either she had a lot more experience with software or the way I spoke about my skills put me out of the running. As I have no way of finding out her software capabilities, I decided to really focus on building my confidence in the way I spoke about these skills. Afterall I can do it, I can do the job role and I have the degree to prove it. The realisation that at uni friends would regularly come to me asking for software help gave me the confidence to speak more highly of these skills in my most recent interview, but still it seems I am not good enough.
If it is this hard to find a job, despite having worked my arse off to get a good grade, is my degree worthless?
Overall, I don’t think it is, but if you compare it to experience then it seems to count for nothing. I am currently working part time in retail for a very well known company in a job I got quite easily despite the most gruelling interview process I have ever experienced, because of my employment history. I had proven I had the required skills and had the confidence to speak highly about them because they had been tried and tested in some fairly challenging job roles for some big name companies and in on, I had even been promoted and given a position of responsibility. Some of these skills and experiences are transferrable to the job I want to be doing, but it’s that well known issue of lack of experience makes it hard to get experience.
That’s not to say, that I haven’t done work experience in the design world, because I have done a two week placement at a magazine where I learnt a lot in a short space of time. Plus some of my work from that has been published in the magazine, which is so cool! This is one of the things that keeps me going. Someone has previously given me a small chance and the sense of accomplishment I got from seeing my work published was incredible and if I did it once why can’t I do it again? Maybe I should try and get more experience or do some freelance work, but it’s not like I haven’t tried to do both of those too.
Right now, I am deeply unhappy with my life. I feel stuck. I feel like everyone else is living their lives and that I’m here, back living with my parents, working a job I don’t want to do and generally not doing much worth talking about, just waiting for my life to happen. I question every ‘big’ decision I have made over the past few months over and over again. Should I have moved back to MK when I knew there weren’t any jobs going in my field here? Should I have started working? Does that look like I’m doing something with my time or like I’ve given up? Should I quit my job to be able to start working somewhere with less notice? Would quitting make me more motivated to do more applications? How many applications should I be doing each week? The list goes on.
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I have had some really positive feedback from other interviews and my hard work has before paid off and gotten me published and a nice certificate, but the whole process is a constant emotional roller coaster, which is mentally exhausting. On top of that, I am the last one from my friendship group to get myself a graduate job, which is hard to deal with. I am happy for them and they do deserve their success, but I can’t help but feel envious whenever I see someone else has landed the dream job.
In the end though, the only thing I can do is keep trying and hope that one day my determination and dedication pays off. There are still jobs out there, so there is still hope. Who knows, maybe the next interview will be the right fit for me? But tonight, I am going to wallow in self-pity whilst catching up on some TV. Then tomorrow, I am going to get up and do some more applications.