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. 
 

Can totally relate

Jonathan,

first of all, it was good seing you at Lote and too bad we haven’t had the chance to talk about this in person!

needless to say many of us have been there, and I’m sure you’ve read Ildim’s report on discriminatory unpaid internships. My university trajectory is the opposite of yours, I graduated in Communication and PR, which I disliked and found un-useful, and I’ve turned to PolSci as it seemed more solid. academically, of course, not in terms of job seeking. I don’t see what job you could have if you’re not going for PhD or academia … Of course it can help if you want to be a serious journalist, an analyst or who knows what else… but it takes extra  training and effort, not even your diploma would help.

How much time do you have to complete your diploma? Do you need advice with that…?

I surely hope your unpaid intern work will end as soon as possible, unless you have a financial cushion to stand on, it can be frustrating, did it myself and was lucky enough to have a job afterwards.

I glimpsed through ecothinking.org, is this something you have been doing on your own ? last post is May 2011 :frowning:

Post #lote thoughts?

Hi Jonathan,

thank you for taking the time and energy to share this. I know where you are coming from, it’s really really exhausting looking for paid work. For me personally the worst part was having to pretend everything was ok and presenting an upbeat facade when it felt like everything was crashing.

We were in the same breakout session, making a living. Is there anything that you found in any way useful or that you would like to explore or understand in more detail?

Hey Jonathan,

I agree with

Hey Jonathan,

I agree with your worry on finding a paid job, which is extremely difficult in nowadays! I find myself in the same situation…

I remember that during the session (I was hosting the “?” table) you raised the question about how to depict your actual skills into a CV… Now that I read your story, I am wondering if you think that it does play a role to be able to portray them in a paper.

Moreover, have you seen the bringing back of the break out session that Chris made? Do you have any comments to add on that?

An interesting Making a Living story on the communication field is Andrea’s story. Have you read it?

Thank you

Staying within the lines?

Hi Jonathan, how are things? Eventually I could read your post about your thesis, couldn’t tell to what extent it’s updated… anyway I left a comment.

I thought a lot about what you wrote and your struggle, particularly because Edgeryders are more or less creative in becoming self-sufficient…  you seem to be really knocking at traditional doors, and like me sort of trying out what we were promised: a career in line with what we were educated for…

I wrote a post not long ago asking what ways are there to move around in the job hunting area, starting from my example: I’m heading towards the end of a job which is only slightly connected to my university qualifications, and as I prepare for job hunting, I find it difficult to write a summary of who I am professionally, or even harder to define my profession: I am equally an early stage researcher in political sociology and a young online community builder. I have a university affiliation, but at the same time I am a communicator. I have 1-3 yrs experience in both, thus I am a learner still. The interdisciplinary competencies that I supposedly have are: peer learning, intercultural communicating, online content managing, thematic networking rather than just social. How can you sell this in traditional settings?

Care to have a look and share some of your lessons from reviewing piles of job applications? http://edgeryders.ppa.coe.int/where-edgeryders-dare/mission_case/how-do-we-make-most-out-portofolio-careers-strategically-and-less