Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Job Hunt: A Game of Statistics.

I have officially been on the job hunt for a week and a half now, making a full time job of it and really trying to get results as soon as possible. It’s hard work though. That I can think of, there are 3 main methods of applying for jobs:

1) Using the people you know and nabbing a job off them; by far one of the most effective forms of job attainment.
2) Trawling through the papers/online and applying for advertised positions. 
3) Sending your CV out speculatively and hoping for a stroke of luck.

Due to an embarrassingly limited network, Option 1 is limited for me. Option 2 is always good, but then they say that about 70% of jobs aren’t advertised. And I find that the right jobs are only really every advertised every other week or so. That leaves Option 3 as my go-to method. I think I’m off to a good start – probably contacted about 30 people so far. I’ve been surprised by the amount of responses I’ve had, probably about half… I mean they’re not positive responses but at least people are actually replying to me (I was expecting a sea of silence).

So I thought I would look up the numbers on job applications and recruitment. A brief glance online, and it would seem that the average person can send about 50-100 applications off (speculatively that is) and get about 3-10 interviews from that, and then maybe get 1 firm job offer. Add to that the fact that I am a graduate with limited experience in a depressed job market, and I’m going to assume that I should double those odds. But then, I don’t know, maybe my masters will give me a bit of an advantage. So that’s basically about 150 speculative applications that I need to send off.

I’m sorry I just need a minute to let that soak in… and have a bit of a cry.

OK, OK, well I mean that’s alright? I mean after a week of research, I’ve sent 30 off in a couple days. Got 12 responses in all, of which 1 and ½ are actually potentially useful. I just need to keep them coming. I’m going to play those statistics like a dog chasing its own tail. And yes, it feels like that sometimes, going round and round in circles that is. At the rate I’m going, I could have my 150 applications out in about a month, and I will just have to see how far that gets me. And who knows, I may beat those statistics! Positive thinking right… 

The question is: how do you keep your head held high after endless rejections? 'Hope' is a good start. I'll see how far that gets me. 

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Return of Kermit: Prisms, the 'End of an Era' and Kevin McCloud

Today, I officially spent my last day as a student. The handing in of my masters dissertation marked the end of an era... and a good one at that. I have to say, I was pretty damn good as that whole 'student thing'. I rocked primary school in both English and French, I found my geographical calling at college, and university... oh university... I loved that so much I went back for more.

And that's why I'm sad to have finished. I'm not saying that this is the end of my education; I'm sure there's plenty more that I will be learning in the near future - business etiquette, how to cope with recurring job rejections, how to bake a tart without the pastry rising. But I can no longer be a "student". No... students are care-free and still waiting for life to reveal itself to them. I'm no longer waiting, I'm making it happen. That's a scary thought in itself; it means responsibility, it means hard work and occasional failures, it means not giving up on goals and dreams. But then, at the same time, that's what makes it exciting!

Of course, there's the added worry of this damned recession. I have not a penny to my name and it would appear (from a preliminary attempt at job applications) that my recently acquired Masters is in fact worth \\CENSORED// compared to those people who have "experience". Well here's what I have to say to any prospective employers:

Experience is gained. But endless dedication, enthusiasm and ideas are inherent - they cannot just be learnt.

OK that last paragraph was a bit miserable. I don't want to be grouchy about the current graduate situation, I know that will get me nowhere. And my Masters is in fact worth a lot, most importantly to myself. Somebody recently asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years time, and for the first time in my life, I actually had an answer. I don't know if that thought will ever come to reality, but it is the past 12 months of my life which has allowed me to really gain a sense of what I want to do with my life (because, as it turns out, 'professional party person' is not really a valid option). Just like necessity is the mother of invention, goals and hopes are the parents of great lives.

Still, I will miss university and the freedom it entails - not only to live but also to think. My SPEP time has especially become a huge part of my life. Not only have I met some great people, and not only is it fun to say (SPEP!), but it's also made me think about how I want to lead my life and where I want to end up in 5, 10, 20 and 100 years time (yes... I will reach the grand age of 122). So in honour of SPEP, here's the three best and worst moment of the last 12 months.

The Good Times:
3) Those moments of insanity when the work piled up to the point of mental breakdowns. While working late one night on a presentation with my group, exhaustion eventually set in around midnight, quickly followed by near insanity. Never has the word 'prism' invoked such hilarity... it's inexplicable, it's ridiculous, but for some reason those 'prisms of sustainable development' were godamn funny at the time. PRISM!

2) Coming out of my lecture and finding myself amidst the filming set of Dr. Who. For fear of sounding ridiculously lame, I will say no more.

1) Most importantly, I have to say, some of the best moments this year have come from the numerous conversations that can only really be appreciated (and initiated) by SPEPers (and any environmental cousins). To name but a few conversation topics: biodegradable tampons, cheating the allotment queue system, Access:Sustainability, the excitement of solar panels, the numerous SPEP-related phrases ('may the SPEP be with you; 'to the SPEP-mobile!'; 'let there be SPEP', etc. etc. etc.). And of course, let us not forget our deity, for whom we sat in the front row, keener than any professor: the one and only Kevin McCloud.

And just for a balanced review, here's the 3 worst moments:
3) The chronic lack of money.

2) Repeatedly using the lecture breaks to get a much needed coffee only to find the coffee shop closed... even at 3PM. CPLAN Fail.

1) Those damned environmental law lecturers. Having said that, there's nothing more uniting than 30+ in one room sharing a similar thought: 'Huh?!'

(A list of proposed food to take on a field trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology - a 6 hour round trip. I believe muffins were the only things to have actually been brought).

No point living in the past though; the future is green and I look forward to being part of it... scrub that, I look forward to making it happen. And on another plus note, I am quite certain that a lack of employment will give me plenty of time to blog more often!

Here's to looking at the bright side of this
Employment Impasse/Recession/Graduate Fool-Making [select as appropriate]