If you’re anything like me, your approach to finding employment may have made use of the ‘scattergun technique’ – basically, apply for literally everything going in the hope that 1% of your applications will be successful. This had been my method of finding work since I was about 15 years old, and usually resulted in at least a brief period of employment.
However, I have also always been rather fussy about my work. I’m a bit of a job-snob, and would never consider getting a job as something as underpaid as a waitress or, God forbid, a barmaid!
This choosiness about employment didn’t lessen, even when I started university.
In my first year I rejected employment full stop – thinking that I didn’t need a job because I was receiving a bursary and first year was for making friends and having fun, not working.
I started second year nearly a thousand pounds overdrawn because of my laziness in first year so I decided I needed to get a job. However, even the impetus of living in relative poverty didn’t stop me being incredibly fussy, and I only applied for ‘proper’ jobs and paid work experience, not wanting to waste my valuable time with a job in a shop or a bar. I was unsuccessful in all of my applications and finished the year with a very negative bank balance.
The early years of studying taught me some valuable life lessons, so when I entered my third year, destitute as ever, living off my savings account and with vague dreams of one day paying for a postgraduate degree, I changed my tack.
In the first couple of weeks of term I applied for countless jobs. My main form of procrastination was updating my CV to make 1 day’s work in a deli bar make me sound like a top-notch barista, and searching Gumtree for employment opportunities the less diligent may have missed. Gone was snobby Juliet – I didn’t want a ‘proper’ job, I just wanted to go to work, get paid, and come home. My ideal job had suddenly become Coffee Wench in the café round the corner.
Unfortunately my cocksure attitude earlier in life came back to bite my behind. Refusing to apply for a job in a shop or a bar leaves you, obviously, never having worked in a shop or a bar. My lack experience in casual work had made me practically unemployable for part-time work. I was doomed.
Ironically, however, my apply-for-everything-going approach managed to secure me a coveted placement with the Newcastle Work Experience scheme AND a role as a JobsOC student temp – one of only 50 or so students hired that year. Not only did I now have a pretty decent job, I had two.
Of course I am extremely grateful for both these jobs – I might actually be able to do a masters one day without winning the lottery first, and should have a significantly fuller CV by the time I graduate.
The only downside is, I am now so unbelievably busy juggling my final year and two jobs that I barely have time to eat or sleep.
I am extremely resentful of my past self for being such a complete moron, and would like to urge anybody thinking of looking for work to bare a couple of things in mind:
- A job is a job is a job! Don’t turn your nose up at something because it pays minimum wage – that’s substantially more than no wage, and if it’s part-time work you can usually leave without giving much notice if something better comes along.
- Get a job in first year! Balancing uni and a job is a skill that needs practice, and accidentally getting 45% in first year because you haven’t mastered it yet is a hell of a lot better than accidentally getting 45% in third year!
- Apply for literally every job advert you see. Even if every single one of them offered you a job, you wouldn’t have to accept them, and multiplying your chances is always a good thing!
- Start thinking about jobs before the start of term – spending the first few weeks of your semester looking for a job isn’t the best use of time, and you might miss out on the best jobs that the early-birds applied for at the beginning of September.