Monday, May 30, 2011

So I know it has been a while,

but there has been a lot going on. To cut a very long story short, I am kind of jobless and homeless at the moment, which isn't something I've actually managed before. Being made homeless and jobless in the space of about ten minutes is certainly an adventure... not necessarily what I had in mind, but hey, let's not get fussy. I mean, at least I have an internet connection :-)

I am being well looked after by the way. Times like these do show who your friends really are, and I have some wonderful friends. Fascinating the way people all get thrown in together, crossing paths with no idea how it will matter so much in six months time, or a years time. Good thing my mother always taught me to say 'Please' and 'Thank you'. And to not say anything if you can't say anything nice. I think that one has done me well ;-) thanks Mum!

So, I'm still looking at jobs in childcare, mostly because that's where my qualifications and experience are. Theoretically I should be getting offered nanny jobs left right and centre, I have an awesome nanny CV (apart from not driving, but that doesn't matter *that* much), but for some reason, I haven't been offered one. I'm not really partial to God, or fate or divine intervention, but I think the world might be giving me a hint here. Seriously, my nanny agents are totally confused, everyone loves my CV and wants to meet me, and the interviews always give positive feedback; apparently I come across well, I'm presentable, intelligent, lovely, sweet, and a variety of other very complimentary adjectives, but somehow despite being the ideal candidate in every possible way, I don't get the job. Now, generally I would just shrug and get on with the next interview, but the statistics are starting to look pretty bad. I would think I am doing something wrong, but I get the interviews, and I get positive feedback from them, so there is nothing obviously wrong with my technique.

Which leaves me thinking I should try for other jobs. What does teaching, nanny, child protection, customer service, waitressing, and a BA leave me doing? Yeah I haven't quite figured that one out yet either. It kinda points to childcare, but seeing as that doesn't seem to be working out as planned, I'm considering second options. I've looked at a few jobs in the charity/NGO area, as I figure the International Relations degree and child protection kinda lend themselves to it. But most of those seem to be either fundraising (I don't consider my current situation a good example of fundraising...) or marketing campaigns. Now, I could probably get into marketing, as in I might enjoy it, for an NGO or something, selling a theory or position on something is right up my alley (enter Philosophy major), if it is something I would actually want to support. Trouble is I wouldn't be dedicated enough to do it for a private company, so I never really considered it a career path, and have no qualifications in the area of marketing, communications or journalism. All of which seem to be necessary for the type of work which I would think I would be good at. Oh and I lack about 5 years of necessary experience in it too.

I'm not exactly business-minded, but I can see that in a recession an employer will have their pick of crop so far as applicants goes. And with everyone wanting work, experienced employees are only a bit more expensive than a brand new graduate. But seriously, how much does experience *really* matter. Just because they've done it before it doesn't mean they're doing it properly. Also, people who haven't done things before are more likely to do it the way you tell them to, and surely that's a good thing, no? My favourite is the way they really, really cling to nannying experience, it is sort of hilarious. Seriously, people think it is such a big deal. If people can't look after a baby unless they have experience then how has the human race been reproducing for the last couple of million years? Also, there is research suggesting a link between the level of education of a carer and the achievements of the child in later life. Surely that is a compelling reason for choosing a well-educated and qualified nanny with only two years experience (!!!) over someone with loads of experience who doesn't actually know a thing about education? Apparently not. I love the way that your age is asked for in this job. Not discreetly or by some calculations of when you finished university, but asked outright. I see many job descriptions which state the required age of the nanny. In any other industry there would be an Equal Opportunities outcry, but in this, oh no, it's perfectly normal to ask and say "Oh no dear, you're far too young, they're looking for someone over thirty".

Ahem, bit of a side track. My original point was actually the fascinating situation I find myself in of being a (relatively) new graduate, with some experience, and unable to get a job. It is fascinating because it is affecting so many people. It isn't just me here in the UK, although it is a very big problem here (some ludicrously large proportion of graduates are either unemployed or working in jobs the are ridiculously over-qualified for here, I'm sure it was about 50% unemployed for my degree, and only marginally better if you went for law). Many of my friends from school and university are unemployed, and a great deal of them returned to university after looking at the possibilities of work and realising the chances weren't great for anything, never mind going into the field you actually graduated in. I have a great many friends who have completed a BSc, only to work in administration or data entry or some other totally unrelated job. At least I knew what I was signing up for when I decided to major in philosophy.

More than anything it is the contrast between now and then that amazes me. Were we really gullible back then? We all had our dreams of journalism, writing, doctors, lawyers, scientists and maybe we weren't so openly full of dreams, but they were certainly there. I for one had no direction, but I certainly believed that a university degree was the way to get there, as I believe we all did. I spent four years getting my BA, and realising I was so bad a chemistry I couldn't get past first year science for my BSc that I had originally aspired to. That didn't really bother me, and when I got to the end of it all I decided to take the 'practical' option and become a teacher. Another year at university, delay the inevitable, and make the inevitable an easier task. I can see I wasn't really ready to let go of university (I'm still not), but it seemed reasonable to think it would get me a job.

Now, I studied NZ foreign policy at university (never, ever again), and I was aware that the UK had essentially cut the metaphorical apron strings for NZ back at the start of the EEC. Fine, makes sense. But the protectionism that it has now is quite amazing. I remember, a few years ago now, all the complaints about Australia's apple growers and protectionism, it was a big debate at the time. But compared to the EU it is petty. Also, having created an empire, the UK has made so many commitments it couldn't possibly join the EEC/EU and actually honour them all. But the fact that they won't recognise my qualification I find astounding. New Zealand has one of the best early childhood curriculum in the world, and it is very well respected. I could say many bad things about the UK education system here, but I will just let you fill those in yourself (suffice to say I believe in free education, and I wouldn't send children to a public school here). And that is just the UK. I don't want to sound snobby, but seriously, do they really think that that a teaching qualification from Slovenia is going to be better than one from another respected OECD, English-speaking country? Apparently so. If it were Finland I would cut them some slack, their teachers need to have a Masters degree before they let them loose on the children. But it's not. Training outside the EU means you aren't qualified to teach inside of it. I am so many kinds of not interested in sitting another set of exams and paying yet more money for the opportunity to be knifed by some waist-high gang protege. Thanks but I'll pass on that.

So my additional year of training is currently proving worse than useless. Which means I'm back to searching for jobs off the back of my BA, and a years worth of childcare-related work. Given that my friends who are so much better qualified than me can't find work, I'm not exactly what you might call optimistic. But somehow I am still hopeful something good will come of it. I was never meant to be a teacher, so this could be my chance to get into something a bit more 'me'. And at least I'm not in my old job, which I was never particularly enamoured with in the beginning, and it only went down hill (and trust me, it hit rock bottom in the hardest possible way).

But hey, recessions and depressions cause desperation. And desperation breeds creativity, so maybe my generation of misled graduates are about to do something wonderful and unexpected yet, we just need enough pressure and time.

Here, this is me fighting the world for my place in it.

Damn it this is my world too and I'm gonna enjoy it!

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