Boy Adrift: Focus Robbie, It’s time to find a job // Column for The Guardian
And the unedited copy..
Monday morning: familiar to the common working man or woman, a scary place for the non-graduate with the unpredictable future. Its 10am, kettle’s boiling, and it’s a cold winter’s morning. A computer hums away in the background, ready to be deployed for another imminent job search. Toasts popped. It’s time. Sigh.
A year’s a hefty amount of time to spend thinking, and pondering your own delusion isn’t the best idea when you’re trying to make yourself appealing to potential employers. Work never liked a cynic. Positivity, right? That’s good. That’ll keep me going. Cool. I’ve moved forward from the first few months spent bordering the line between fear and excitement for a new way to live life. Realities put it’s foot in the door. There’s no money. No job. No opportunities and nothing to look to on the horizon.
The all too familiar presence of job-site emails fill the hollow depth of my inbox, and vacancy applications are now the only point in which I come into contact with the real world. It’s been like this for two months now. Living at home, bordering on the point of disparity, and not wanting to ring the job centre or rely off anyone but myself for my own welfare. Every day boils down to the standard routine of filling out personality questionnaires, and top-line contact information on every form I’m sent by automated job servers.
I’ve not been called in for an interview once yet. I’ve got no experience in retail, and I’m not professional enough for a desk job. Bollocks. Work experience? An internship? Yeah, maybe. I keep looking.
An offer. Unpaid. Internship. At a PR company? Three months? Mum calls to question again: “They are paying you, aren’t they, Robbie?” I send an email back, “can you pay expenses?” they tell me they can’t. An opportunity or just an easy chance to exploit? It’s difficult to say.
Winter turns to spring, anger turns to passion, and fear turns to fuel. I’m working, helping others out. It’s unpaid, yes. But it’s a start. Email exchanges are getting busy. With spring comes a new sense of ambition. This is good, isn’t it? A career? I’m doubtful. But it’s keeping me busy, keeping my head in check.
With the loneliness of the drop-out cycle comes a sense of maturity. I’m not old. I’m an idiot, a kid facing the reality of working life straight in the face and realising that a pay-check is the point in which I’ll count some success in what I’m doing. But it’ll do for now. I spent most of my days in education ambling around learning graphics, and web design through online guides – school seemed slow to catch on – so learning from the outside seemed the best option. The skills help keep things moving. One small job a month is enough to keep me tied over to the bare minimum. Train tickets, the odd McDonalds, the phone bill. But these are skills I was left to learn for myself. I didn’t ever acquire them in school, and without being the mature character that I seemed to be back in my uniformed days, I probably wouldn’t have ventured to learn them.
What happens to the others that don’t? Leave education without a set of practical skills, just a few grades, and a certificate for their achievement. I dare to question. Going to university leaves you with a lifetime of debt, doing nothing leaves you to commit to the cycle of anxiety, and the difficult job searches that I faced.
There are 83 applicants for every job in this country, 83 people desperate for a chance. One of those 83 people is me. And this is my plea for our countries youth. This is why I’m scared of growing up.