Artist and designer Laura Colgan (above) on the struggles of finding employment in the digital sector (or any sector for that matter).
Nine months in a onesie.
I’ve been unemployed for nearly nine months (actually that’s extremely scary, it’s the first time I’ve totted it up). Rewind to September 2012 when I quit the shop job that I had on and off for nine years. It got me through school and college, the year of saving for America and the year after I got back.
This was the point when I decided I needed to do something drastic about my career. The more I stayed in that job, the less likely I was to find a job in my field, and the more my creative energy diminished.
I got an Honours Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication from NCAD in 2009, where I focused on illustration and print. When I quit my job I had a freelance layout job with a non-profit book publishers. It turned into a longer-term job that I milked through to May 2013. In that time I also squeezed in a three-month part-time unpaid internship with an Irish Women’s magazine. I vowed never to do anything unpaid after that, I did my time and I deserved to get paid. I’M AN ADULT!
I’m not the type of person who likes being unemployed. I keep busy. I’m creative and motivated and interested in new things. Alongside job hunting, over the next eight months I would voluntarily paint murals for the local Tidy Towns Committee, move house, join a hockey club, take a two-week trip around Ireland and subsequently start my ‘Photo of the Day’ on Instagram. I would go on a few interviews that I was so close to getting. One employer in particular really loved me and my work but someone with more experience eventually got the job. I found this the case numerous times.
Not one to be thrown out with the bath water, I decided to add to my skills with a digital marketing course in November. It seemed to go hand-in-hand with design. I was excited and enthusiastic after finishing the intensive eight-day course and secured a two-week placement in a top media agency as part of the course. I was now ready to apply for digital marketing jobs. They were everywhere. Of course I needed to go for the junior roles and I found that paid internships were the way to go.
It’s been about a month since I’ve started on the digital marketing job hunting. I decided not to do a few Job Bridge ‘internships’ back in December for a number of small companies as there was no one to learn from (defeating the purpose) and I would work a lot from home. This was the opposite of what I wanted. I wanted to work in a team and bounce ideas off others. I wasn’t going to get where I wanted to get by working on my own so after a bit of thinking I decided I just couldn’t do them.
In the new year I’ve had one interview for a paid internship in marketing. There were six or seven positions going and they interviewed about fifty people.
I didn’t get the job.
As usual I asked for feedback on my interview and was told that the standard was very high and that there were people with significant industry experience and that there wasn’t any distinct feedback to give me. Now does that sound like a paid internship to you? Didn’t think so! How is one to progress in a field when the junior roles are going to overqualified people?
The most infuriating thing about job hunting is the fact that I am wasting my brain cells at home day after day when I could be out making a difference! I’m a people person with great enthusiasm, motivation and creativity. It’s annoying how these employers can’t see how hard I’d work for them, how excited I’d be to work with a team, how I am dying to work and not just applying for jobs to keep the social welfare off my back.
So what am I doing now?
I am learning how to knit again. I am helping out with my local Tidy Towns committee. I am researching blogging so I can set up my own professional blog with it’s own domain name. I am playing in hockey matches with experienced players after just learning how to play. I am making a poster for my cousin’s band’s fundraiser.
I am also on my own a lot, trying to not pull my hair out, oh…and applying for jobs.
Unfortunately it might have come to the time when I apply for ‘normal’ jobs as I call them, ones that aren’t in my field but that I could have a chance at getting due to my years of dedicated retail work. They are jobs that I don’t particularly want to do due to lack of creativity but that I’ll do because I’m desperate to earn some money. I want to be able to go out, buy clothes, and treat myself to lunch and dinner.
It just so happens that I got a rejection email right this minute from another paid internship that I know that I could be brilliant at and that I’m definitely qualified for. Apparently the standard was exceptionally high (cue scrunched up face and evil eyes pointed towards the computer). It doesn’t deter me. I’m hopeful and confident as always that I will get a great job…at some point.
Now, while most of you are working your asses off I might go make myself a cup of herbal tea, and as a reward for writing this I may even watch an episode of Modern Family.
There are perks to being unemployed, but most of the time I can’t enjoy them because I am too busy worrying about trying to get a job. That and wondering if I’ll get away with staying in my pajamas for the day!
:Why being unemployed isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be (Laura Colgan)
Thanks Jim Fogarty