So said Arnie, as only he could in Kindergarten Cop. I don’t want to whine, but I do tend to post updates quite a lot on Facebook- I don’t use Twitter since I’m not famous and I have enough sites to waste my time on. So often I will say what I’m feeling on Facebook, especially if I am feeling very lonely. One does try for humour, at least.
On such a status thread, I wrote a list of the sorts of jobs I have applied for, which was ’science writer, pharma advertising, website editing, studio running, TV research, education outreach, medical reporting, admin assistant, data entry, temping, lab technician, and media monkey positions’.
Which actually doesn’t cover all of them, but la. The number of applications when I last counted, a fortnight or so ago, was about 70. Number of interviews, 10, and some of those were for two positions in one interview. Feedback from some, silence from others. Maybe I really am just a bit sh*t?
Let’s see if I can post anything helpful about my experience…
No, I can. I did think the SMP course would be more daring and specialised than the Sci Comm course, which is true. I thought I could explain my rationale well enough in interviews, if necessary- for instance, if interviewing for a medical writer position. Which is largely true, but it is very important to be prepared, because the degree does look very specialised, and employers are looking for any sign to trim off the crowd of applicants. I do think that my mentioning that I applied for TV production positions has counted against me in at least one interview, where I would have been better off pretending that I had applied solely for jobs in the sector of the one I was interviewing for.
In order to express confidence, commitment, and enthusiasm, it’s really important to be selective over what you are going to mention- and for goodness sake, plan beforehand and don’t deviate. I am still too honest in interviews and will admit if I had prior reservations to the industry in question, or my past choices- this really doesn’t help. Honesty is not an admirable quality, it is a difficult and vague quality that employers struggle to judge.
Regarding getting a writing job, I think it would really help if I just wrote as many free, freelance articles in my unemployment time. I am now trying to do that. The critic in my head says that I was too eager to get a paying job. The angry voice in my head says that getting paid in return for providing my brain in some service seemed a perfectly reasonable plan after several years of further education. The kid in me just sighs.
Most of the time, interviews do go better than anticipated. MOST of the time. The chance that they won’t, and the damn difficulty in getting a job, means there really cannot be too much preparation. I’m trying not to remember a recent one where I thought the usual burst of adrenaline and good cheer that comes from social interaction would carry me through. It didn’t. One good thing is that you do gain a core set of answers that can be used again and again for things like ‘Tell me about yourself’ ‘Tell me what you did from ___ to ___’.
Regarding TV, it’s difficult to say what would help me get a runner / researcher position more. A few things I am cautiously sure of -
1.) More work experience. At least 4 weeks with a BIG, WELL KNOWN production company.
2.) A driving licence. So many runner positions just want someone willing to drive round London. If you can drive vans, far better.
3.) Networking. Something I am starting to despise in general, entirely on principle, entirely because of how it is confirmed again and again and again by every single employed person I seem to speak to. It kind of implies that I’m basically a useless, overeducated n00b who hasn’t made enough friends or well-placed connections during all her years. I know that sounds childish, but tell me, how else am I meant to see it? I am really starting to believe that MSc time is just an excuse for a period of time when a person is supposed to be working part-time, or voluntary work, or being the student paper editor (writers get no kudos).
Little things like exuding energy and enthusiasm and being the easiest person to get on with EVER also help, but to be honest, I try so hard to be all that that I’m not sure how much more I could lay that on.
Also, if you’re not a student, work experience is technically illegal. Oops. Wish I’d known that earlier before I sent out my first batch of applications. But asking for WORK SHADOWING is not. So you don’t want experience, when you apply you must write that you JUST WANT TO SHADOW (even though of course, you will be working, not peering over people’s shoulders). Remember that.
Enough advice, can I whine now? Why not, it’s my life. I’m having mood troubles which may or may not be induced by my circumstances- environmentally induced depression, perhaps, but a pretty unshakable-feeling depression. Too bad for me. Just got to endure, but depression really is one of my most despised and feared things in life. It’s either that or some non-mood related medication I’m taking, still what fun- I just won’t know for a good while. So indeed, I’m at my lowest point. There’s not much funnyness to be said about that.