|This is for Berlin zoo’s last panda, who tragically died last month. I think he choked on a carrot.|
Where have I been? Why does the site look different? What is the point of anything? I can’t answer all your questions but the first two have the same explanation, which is that I have recently been rather overwhelmed with a single job application which – shock, horror and gaping disbelief – actually led to an email of reply, an interview and then a trip back to Oxford.
I have refrained from blogging about the graduate job search thus far for two reasons: firstly, all the newspapers, careers blogs and lifestyle blogs are already jawing to the point of exhaustion about the calamity of the UK graduate job market, how impossible it is, how our graduates are both stupider and less useful than they used to be and how our employers are giving our graduates not an icicle’s chance in hell of getting employment. Secondly, because it is an inherently dull topic; job searching requires an absurdly drawn-out and time-consuming procedure about as fun as having your teeth gradually sanded down to stumps by an elderly carpenter. Each application (of which there are many, as there is no point in applying for any one job without blanket applying to all of them that seem remotely relevant to our qualifications and interests) takes at least an hour to complete if you follow the advice of careers resources such as the Guardian und so weiter. Apparently one’s CV ought to always be immaculately honed to the one position for which you are applying, so there is half an hour spent trying to reshuffle the things on your resume to emphasise how your life’s work seems naturally to point towards a career in assistant print product management. Then there is the automatic application form on the company’s website, which requires you to enter in all the information on your CV once more but in a different way that forbids you to simply ctrl+v from your actual CV. Then you upload the honed CV document and the cover letter, which advice dictates must be both classic and innovative, confident, eloquent, short and snappy, and addressed directly to the full name of the person who will be reading your application (ignoring the fact that finding out this information involves awkwardly phoning the company to be told they don’t just give out people’s names over the phone for shits and giggles). One then fills in all the equality information and release form bits and finally clicks the ‘submit’ button in the almost definite knowledge that one will never receive the slightest whisper of response from this company ever, ever, ever.
As a media hack, however, I felt the right path for me was to lean heavily on the good old tradition of despicable nepotism. I scraped contacts out of the business and pressed them for help, information and other contacts until I had a veritable web of half-acquaintances grudgingly trying to wangle me into the industry. There were, however, two problems: the contacts that were actually supposed to be paying off were remaining silent as the grave, and the contacts that were simply helping out were also constantly warning me that this was a line of work I was going to hate, feel wasted in, and eventually earn so little money in that I would have to live in a hollowed-out sofa in a country road layby.
At a particularly intense moment of indecisiveness about what I wanted to do for a living and whether there was any point in trying to get a job at all (I assume selling pickled gherkins online would be relatively lucrative), I popped over to the neighbours’ house to babysit their kids for the day. They were off to the Olympics, see, and their two kids had begged for me to be their babysitter, given that I always bring craft supplies with me and am happy to do stupid accents to order. At the last moment two other kids were added to the mix because the neighbours’ spiffy friends were joining them on their day out, and so suddenly my hourly pay was doubled and I had double the number of precocious children demanding that I teach them origami and draw cats for them and other interesting things that I’ve decided to save for a separate post because it’s good enough material by itself. At one precious moment in the early afternoon they mercifully decided to watch an episode of Tracy Beaker and I was given a moment of peace.
I idly nipped onto the Guardian website and saw an odd-looking advert for an editor position in the modern foreign languages department of an anonymous publisher, with Spanish or German at degree level being one of the desired plus points. Without hope, optimism or anything other than bitter resentment I applied for the damn job and instantly forgot all about it.
Three and a half weeks later, a recruitment agency’s email lands at my proverbial doorstep asking me to write another cover letter and state my salary expectations for this position. I was as surprised to receive any answer at all as I was to recall that I had even applied for the job, but compliantly paraphrased my original cover letter in slightly different words (why they wanted two I will never really understand) and sent it off.
To cut a long story short, guys and gals, one thing led to another and I was actually offered the post! I start next Monday. Smart casual, canteen on site.
Hence the slight redesign and the less than slight absence. From now on I will be blogging about the first step towards becoming a professional quasi-germanite, making the textbooks and online learning stuff that kids all over the country will be hating in their thousands. It will be me who will be picking out the most appropriately dated photo of a kid with weird hair giving a thumbs up to the camera to illustrate an exercise about skateboarding or instant messaging or some other equally ‘young-people-y’ topic. Obviously the company will remain unnamed to prevent me-fireification, but I’m sure this is going to be a rather interesting few months of bloggery nonetheless. Stay tuned and bis bald!