The quest for paid work: Finding a job is hard work
My quest for paid work began after my last semester of political science. I was tired of studying and sort of had lost my sense of direction (link). That was the semester I was supposed to write my bachelor thesis, but I ended up never finish it because of various reasons.
Nonetheless, I had arranged for a three month internship at a PR agency in London specializing in sustainability communication. It was something that I genuinely had looked forward to. But the reality quickly caught up with me.
Life in london turned out not be that easy. We had agreed beforehand upon on a per diem of 20 pounds. This would cover food and travel expenses (my expenses for housing was about 500 pounds alone). But during the internship a debate about the sustainability and unfairness of internships emerged. That made me less happy about my situation there.
I guess it was partly a clash of working culture as well. Me not being used to a very hierachical structure with me at the very bottom. At the time, the values the agency held didn’t seem to apply to all the contributors of the agency. Which certainly made me feel less happy towards the agency. I felt used and angry that they didn’t live up to their values. To be fair though, things seems to have changed since I was there. They have set up a year-long position instead of 3-month position, which should enable you to contribute to the agency on a longer period and under more fair conditions.
At the same time I was a columnist for (small) internet magazine covering CSR issues. Unpaid as well. But this at least generated some income in an indirect way. Because of this connection I got to be a co-author of a report covering energy issues in the Swedish industry. For some weekends during my internship in London that’s what I worked on. That report alone generated more income than the 3 month internship itself.
But when I came back to Sweden after the internship. I felt stuck again, in the same way I felt stuck studying. I started to apply to jobs the regular way. Writing CVs and cover letters. As many others has noted, the way of applying to jobs that way seems quite broken.
On top of that, I wasn’t feeling very well on an emotional level either. The experience in London had in some ways taken it’s toll. Since I had canceled my room when I left Sweden I was basically returning as a homeless person. For some time I lived with my (former) girlfriend. During the summer my relationship to her soured and we eventually broke up in August last year.
It’s hard enough to find work as it is, without having to struggle on a personal and emotional level as well.
During all this time my aspiration have been to work with communication, because that’s what I currently seem to know the best, although my knowledge is not formal knowledge acquired through university. Heck, the only thing I learnt in university was critical thinking and the ability to find stuff, well that and academic writing.
But when applying for jobs a formal education in the field often seems required. I feel it’s tough to get through in the pile of applications sent in by other people. I once tried to do a social media campaign for one particular job (link). Which I got quite some credit for, but it didn’t pay off in terms of me getting employed.
It did get the interest of another small start-up which I’m currently interning at. However, it’s not as it’s easy for them either. Their level of financial sustainability hasn’t fully reached the level where they can pay their own salaries. So, after this internship ends in a couple of weeks I expect that I will have acquired a little more experience but will mostly be at the same place that I have been for the last year.
For the coming autumn, I’m thinking of reconsidering and just apply for any sort of job. I might pick up studying again, although I’d hate to get more into debt than I’m already am. It feels like a defeat to take so many steps backwards. But I guess you really have to take some steps backwards when nothing really works out the way you wanted it to.