Words by Jane, 24
I’m mad. I’m mad that my industry has let me down.
Media was meant to be fun – exciting, filled with creative types, and an opportunity to turn my passion into my occupation. This is what motivated me throughout my Bachelor degree and beyond. And at first, reality met my expectations: I created, with others, and I learnt so much, and it was beautiful. It was great. I relished in it, in all of it. In helping create, in learning from my peers, and in helping my colleagues
I aimed to please. And I did.
I stood on my feet for 14-hour days as a television crew member. And I loved it. I sat in a chair all day, for 5 days a week, for 6 months, and I loved it. When the program aired on TV, my mum watched every episode. I was happy, I was tired, I was proud. I was grateful.
But now I’m mad.
My friends are mad. My university peers are mad. We’re meant to be quiet about it – “That’s just the way it is!” – but we’re not, and it isn’t.
We’ve been let down. Disillusioned to believe in a fantasy. And now, I’m mad.
I’m mad that as an educated, experienced young professional, I’m finding it so. fucking. hard. to find a job. Any job! Part-time, casual, full-time. Weekends, nights. Whatever the job, I will do it. I’ve broadened my scope – I apply for receptionist roles now, hoping, (fantasising) that maybe the role might involve some writing. If not, at least I’d enjoy talking to the customers or clients.
I’m mad. I’m mad that I spend, on average, an hour adjusting resumes and cover letters to each individual job I apply for, and I don’t even get a ‘no’.
Sometimes I hear back – “unfortunately on this occasion, you’re unsuccessful”. That’s okay, that’s fine. I’m thankful for their response, and I tell them so.
But most of the time, I don’t. So I wait two weeks. And I email again. And I enquire. “I’m hoping for an update on this application as it’s a position I’m still very excited about.” I type this with so much anger and disappointment and rejection in me that some days I feel like I’m writing to an email address that leads to no one. But I hope, still. Always, I hope.
And they don’t reply.
So I try a third and final time, and when they don’t reply – I cross them off the list of applied jobs I have written in a Word document, buried in the folder ‘Jobs’ where all my resumes, cover letters, and selection criteria responses live. Maybe next time.
I’m mad that I do all this work for nothing, because most of the time, there’s no response. I write cover letters – short essays, essentially – when what I really want to do is send them a cover letter that just says, “I don’t want to waste your time, or mine, so have a read of my resume and let’s have a chat on the phone about what I can do.” But instead I sit down, and I rewrite another variation of the cover letter required for another job because they insist on one. A cover letter that they won’t even read.
And I know this, because I track my emails now. I know who opens my applications, and who doesn’t. Perhaps it’s my name putting them off. Perhaps it’s just luck. But I’m running out of luck now. And it feels like I’m running out of the ability to care. How should I, why should I, if nobody else does?
I’m mad. Entry-level positions require 1-3 years’ experience – but university study, theoretical and practical, doesn’t count.
I’m mad – junior positions offer minimum wage, but they still require a university degree, and some relevant experience. My grades don’t count for anything in the real world, but I’m still proud of them. A Distinction average is still held in high esteem by some, even if it’s only by me and my mum.
I’m mad – in media everywhere, internships are being offered – unpaid, for months, but they’re ‘exciting’ with the ‘possibility of paid employment’ after this. Who on earth would be excited about months of work without pay? Certainly not my landlord. I don’t think he’d care how ‘exciting’ the role was or how much ‘experience’ it gave me. I’ve got rent to pay.
I’m mad – I’ve seen six-month unpaid internships advertised. And I hope for their sake that no one answers to these listings, but I know they do.
Years ago, my mum and aunt told me, they could just walk into a business or store, ask nonchalantly about work, and most times they’d be offered an availability on the spot. And if they didn’t end up liking it, they just quit. Today, I’m mad that not receiving a response to a 2-page resume, 2-page cover letter, and 2-page selection criteria is normal. Normal is the expected, and I’m mad I expect this now.
And I’m mad for my friends, who are being treated the same way. Kind, smart, and willing – but they don’t even get looked at. Because, well, where’s their 2 years experience?
I’m mad it’s turned out like this. I’ve applied for Woolworths and Coles now. Because when I go in and do my grocery shopping, and when the clerk smiles at me as she’s rounding up left-behind baskets, I smile back at her and think: “I could do that for the pay I’m currently getting.” The Lifted Brow recently posted that foreign workers get paid $15 an hour to pick onions here in Australia. And I realised, that’s only a few mere dollars short of what I’m getting with a lot less effort, and, ironically, a lot less tears. Plus, I’d love to meet some international friends! Working in a grocery store, picking onions – it’s remarkable this is preferable for me now, isn’t it?
One university friend is working back as a medical receptionist again. Another friend works at the Tax Office. So last week, I applied to the supermarket conglomerates. And if they don’t hire me, I might as well just start selling drugs.
I’m mad it’s come to this. I’m educated, experienced, and I even have work to show off, if they’d just look at it. But most importantly, I’m keen, and I take pride in my work. Even if that means rounding up baskets that shoppers have left behind. One other thing about me, something that I can’t put on a resume? I’m kind. And that’s more than I can say about all the silence I’ve been getting from the people and jobs I’ve applied to.
So, yeah, I’m mad. And most of all, I’m mad that I’m not the only one.
NB: The author did not supply an image for this piece, we chose a humdinger ourselves.