You don’t have to be unemployed, or young, or old, to know that working helps us with a lot of things. Paying the bills is one very important factor. Getting out of the house and having a purpose is another. Feeling appreciated for what you do, feeling like you contribute to the world.
All of these are things harder and harder to achieve in today’s economy. Jobs are scarce, and there’s too many graduates applying for one single position for almost every major job out there. Some industries find it hard to hire because no one under 35 is interested in working there anymore. Others have so much choice, they decide to work using interns that they don’t have to pay.
I used to work several part-time jobs around university and later at French Radio London, and I still needed parental help to pay for everything. Now I have a new job at the French school in South Kensington and for the first time, my pay check is no surprise at the end of the month. I get the same ever time, unless I’ve worked more, and I don’t have to freak out when time comes to pay council tax or gas and electric.
And ok, maybe it’s not what I wanted to do when I thought of myself as a grown-up. Then again, I went through different phases, so it’s not too far off from one of them: the teacher phase. My mother actually thinks that me working with kids might be a conscious career choice, and I guess in a way she’s right: I’m a people person, so an office job doesn’t entirely appeal to me, and I’m strangely good with children.
But what about what I wanted to do? Writing the next best seller is not easily done, and to be fair my inspiration has been missing since I handed in my MA dissertation. Uni literally sucked the inspiration out of my life. It might come back. Also, the whole columnist in a magazine thing? EVERYONE wants to do that. And everyone blogs because it’s a way of doing what you want without the restrictions of an editor (guess what I’m doing right now…). But it’s so hard to get into the media industry that you’d need to be unemployed yet rich to be able to grab one internship after the other in order to get experience.
I did a couple and after a while I got sick of having to entirely depend on someone else for money. Also, not everybody’s experiences as an intern are good. I’ve had friends who had to iron, and walk the dog, and clean the shoes, and make the tea and the coffee and run errands (How very Devil wears Prada-esque). I was very lucky to actually be doing work.
Plus, what’s with the whole career thing anyway? Nowadays it’s very unlikely that you’ll get a job in a company and stay there for 30 years. You’ll probably jump from one to the next, even switching between different areas during your life. So, really, there’s plenty of time and scope for me, and others, to explore what we’re good at, what we really want to do, the things we can do and those it turns out we don’t want to do.
So next time someone questions why you’re working where you’re working, or how come you’re doing something that has nothing to do with your degree, just tell them this eternal quote: The world’s your oyster. Go and have fun with it!
Pictures from: bp.blogspot.com, lovebrownsugar.com, internjustice.com, standard.co.uk