Saturday, 21 January 2012

A new dawn, a new day...

Hello again.

Well I've already failed on one of my NY Resolutions, as I haven't posted in this every day. To be fair though, it's because the charger for my laptop had broken, and the new one only came through the post today (£6.95 on eBay, got to love the bargains!)

I have just been doing some research into the internships that I was on about last time; at the moment I'm on Jobseeker's Allowance - a pitiful £50/week - so £200/month of which £120 goes on bills such as rent, phone bill and my credit card which I stupidly took out in my First Year at University, haven't spent anything on since, yet am still trying to pay the damn thing off. So I'm left with £80/month - or £20/week (though it doesn't usually work out like this because all the bills come out round about the same time) to spend on bus fares to and from the job centre, or to see family and friends, or God-forbid, actually buy myself some shampoo or some other necessity. This is the government deems how much you need to live on, and they're probably about right. I can't afford to buy any of the books or DVDs I want, and haven't had a haircut in six months, but this isn't the kind of thing I should be spending government money on - I cannot complain about the benefits system in this country because, although as we know, some people use and abuse it, we're very lucky to even have anything of the kind.

However, the internships that I would love to apply for are all pretty much full-time work. I asked at the job centre if I could still claim JSA whilst working on one of these because, although I am loathe to be on the dole, it's the only way I can afford to do one of these brilliant schemes that would help me so much in getting a job. Either that, or I'd have to work part-time as well (providing I can actually get a job), and instead work 70+ hour weeks in order to keep my head above water. This is an option that I might have to take, but it's not one that I relish the thought of. Both times I asked at the job centre, I have told that I cannot claim JSA whilst on an internship because technically I would not be available to be looking for full-time work. Ok, fair point, but it might be the only way I can actually get a job in the first place. Would they rather pay me £50/week for 3 months, or even 6 months, during which time I'm gaining essential skills, out of the house all day, and greatly increasing the chance of me gaining employment at the end of it, or would they rather pay me £50/week for sitting on my arse all day, trawling through job websites on the computer, and generally achieving nothing?

Since my return from Africa, just over a month ago, I have applied for 129 jobs. I counted. Now these aren't jobs in which I'm punching above my weight; these are jobs with titles such as 'Administrator,' 'Telesales,' 'Customer Service Advisor.' All minimum wage jobs. I am also not lacking in experience - I have six years in retail - both catering and shops - in which I have worked on all levels, on the bottom rung doing the washing up for £3/hour in a restaurant, to training and supervising employees in my last job, albeit still for minimum wage. I have had no break in employment, have references, have multiple skills - even administrative skills - and have a list of voluntary work as long as my arm, which proves I can organise events, lead a team, work in a team and anything else you can possibly think of. I have not discriminated in the jobs I have applied for; I've been  on all the agency websites and applied for anything and everything I am qualified for, no matter how crap the job.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have applied for some jobs that I actually want. Some of these, I am punching above my weight, but if you don't ask, you don't get. I have a degree - albeit not a very good one - I have managed a team of volunteers, I have worked for DFID (technically) and I have tons of experience in working for a charity. I might be punching above my weight, but it's not like I have no experience at all - I can at the very least be an administrator in a charity. Unfortunately, I think to get a job like this, I'd have to do an internship, which I can't afford, because no-one will employ me in an even minimum-wage job, and I can't claim JSA whilst interning.

So what're my options? Well I'm going to temp agencies in Leeds and Manchester next week (using up a precious amount of my £20/week budget), but I'm fairly sure they're going to tell me that, because I've already applied online, I just have to stick with that because it's the same thing. So I'm stuck in a rut, applying for more of the same until somebody, somewhere might decide that they like me. What then though? If it's a minimum-wage job, will I get stuck in that environment for good, unable to afford to quit and go on adventures, or look for other jobs? Who knows. Such is the life of a graduate. I'm certain I'm not alone, and I apologise for sounding like a right whinge-bag, but this is the life for a lot of people now, so somebody ought to document the reality.

Of course it's not all doom and gloom. I have a roof over my head, and a loving family who charge me very cheap rent, so it's all good in that respect. I'm more fortunate than most people! In fact, we've just been out for lunch at the farm shop near us - they have vacancies there, and I'd be more than willing to work for them, but unfortunately I live in a very remote part of Yorkshire. It's literally just 20 minutes down the road in the car, but although I've passed my test, I cannot afford to drive or to insure a car. So instead I'd have to take a bus in the opposite direction, and then a second bus back again because the public transport system round here is dire (also, only one bus an hour so if I missed it I'd be screwed, and they're not the most reliable of things). So again, another catch-22 situation. I need a car to get to some jobs, but can't afford a car until I get a job. Argh!

As I've proved by applying for so many, it's not that there are no jobs out there nowadays, it's just that more people, and a wider range of people are applying for them. People with 10-15 years of experience in a professional job are applying for the same jobs as recent graduates because they have been made redundant, or their business has gone under. In the same respect, there are more graduates leaving University unemployed, and so a wider pool of people to choose from.

Anyway, enough of that ranting now. This afternoon I'm going to take the dog for a walk and potentially watch a film. I have to take a day off job-hunting or I'll go raving mad. I need to think of a new hobby to take up (besides blogging) to pass the time. I'm currently attempting to teach myself HTML, which is going fairly well, and I've also just discovered the iTunes U app on my phone, and so am currently taking (a very passive) astronomy course (i.e. watching videos of lectures at Yale and trying to understand them).

I'm not normally this boring I promise...well maybe I am, but I usually talk about more than jobs and silly computer stuff. For example, I watched Room 101 last night, and Danny Baker suggested that we put comedy panel shows into it! I was horrified - they are the only reason I watch TV most days! I understand his general point - that there are loads of them nowadays, and some of them aren't that great. But most of them are! My favourite programme in the whole world is 'Would I Lie to You.' Mainly because I love David Mitchell, and also think that Rob Brydon and Lee Mack are hilarious; 8 Out of 10 Cats; QI; HIGNFY - all brilliant! My mind imploded with happiness the other week when I watched a re-run of QI that I missed whilst I was in Africa, with Prof. Brian Cox. Brian and Stephen Fry in the same room is the most amazing thing in the history of the world, and it wouldn't have happened without comedy panel shows. I'll take his point to some extent, because, as much as I love Mock the Week, I think it has gone dramatically downhill since it began, and not just because of Frankie Boyle (who by the way, I do not find funny on anything else but that programme). If you take Dara O'Briain and Hugh Dennis away from that programme (and occasionally Chris Addison), it would just be a big mess and ramble of un-funniness. They're the only people who save it and it makes me sad. I even like Argumental (on Dave), which I hated when it first came out. The only panel show (and I'm not sure if it really falls into the same category) is Celebrity Juice, because it just annoys me, no matter how much I love Rufus Hound and Fearne Cotton.

Room 101 is also not as good as it used to be. It's got technological, and Frank Skinner is just not as funny as Paul Merton was on it. Still good TV though (mainly because it had Robert Webb on it, yay!)

Right, I'm off to discover my new hobby now - if you can think of anything, answers on a postcard!

Oh, and my interesting thing for today? It will start being photos next week, but this week it's the iTunes U app - if you have a smartphone, download it, you won't regret it, it's incredible!!

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