Sunday, 28 November 2010

This life...

It has been a tough couple of months. I have barely had any inspiration to write about anything, let alone the glamorous world of fashion.

I have gone from being editor-in-chief of two national magazines to not having a job at all. I knew the job only ever came with a temporary six month contract, but those six months sneaked past me very quickly. I was unprepared to be labelled with that depressing term 'unemployed'. Going from interviewing Tinie Tempah and the Klaxons to watching Loose Women talking about 'jiggy jigs' with their husbands is a tad depressing, to say the least.

This economic crisis we have continued to be in for the past few years has had a dramatic effect on university leavers with bundles of ambition. After three or four years of working hard, yes really, we are all gagging to enter into the working world - but hang on - where are the jobs?

Like so many other graduates out there, since leaving university it has been one hell of a ride trying to get a job in the area I studied in - journalism. The journalism world has changed dramatically - journalists are now expected to take on around five job roles just to cut costs. The internet has also had a dramatic effect on print journalism -why read day old news in tomorrow's paper when you can get the latest news online, right now? So yes, trying to get a job in journalism has always been competitive but it has definitely got harder.

It is far too easy to fall into a depression after having non-stop rejections from job applications and being 'in the house' too much. You think back to all the hard work you have put into to kick -starting your career, the weeks of unpaid work experience and taking on jobs where the pay was awful but gave you the opportunity to 'experience' the industry you want to be in. Talk about losing all your self-confidence and esteem!

I worked a whole year before I got my 'break' in journalism. I did temp-work as a receptionist in a hospital. I actually really enjoyed my self and look back at that time fondly. It got me used to the 9-5 routine, I met and worked with lovely people, I built up the confidence of working as a team and I continued to write at home. It was monotonous and wasn't what I wanted to do forever but that only made me more determined to become a journalist.

I got my break into journalism in Portugal - not on a local newspaper in Birmingham (my hometown) or in an agency in London - but on a local expat newspaper in the beautiful country I will now always think of as my second home. I already had worked several summers behind a bar in the Algarve so I had foundations there - it wasn't like I stepped off the plane in a totally new country and had to build my life from scratch. However, it was still daunting!

Seeing my first story published was a moment I will never forget - to think that people were going to be reading my work every week was a complete thrill! As well as news reporting I was able to gain experience in my most favourite form of writing - feature writing. I found out that this was my forte - I think my imagination just runs too wild to stick to news reporting. I interviewed local residents (and friends) who had moved to the Algarve who had the most amazing life stories.

I returned to Birmingham on Christmas Eve last year, my contract was up. I was ready to come home, the winter in Portugal had been a real learning curve. The usual crowds of summer hadn't been there so I pushed my self into meeting new people and making new friends.

I had an amazing experience editing the magazines back in Birmingham - I got to interview all the latest bands and singers, had press pass to Glastonbury - it was a blast. It was also extremely stressful as I had to write, edit and plan the entire magazine, which had to be completed in under three months. They were 300 + pages long - guides rather than magazines. It was, however, the best experience that I could have asked for.

Then it was over - I treated my self to two amazing holidays where I completed chilled out with my friends but then it was back to reality

Job hunting - with absolutely no results. I was back to being at home everyday, inspiration for writing dwindling, the 'amazing experience' I had had seemed to be all for nothing. My self-esteem started to catapult downwards, the confidence I had in myself and my ability seemed to vanish. I had to remind myself what I had achieved so far, but that only made my situation feel worse.

I got my self some freelance work for, where I could claim articles I wanted to write from a big database of subjects. These subjects could range from writing about Ralph Lauren paint collections to the less glamorous subjects of different types of video arcade games from the 1980's.

I was back at home living with my supportive parents. Living back at home is fine if you're working and are out of the house everyday, but the constant feeling of guilt you have when they're out at work everyday and you're at home on your laptop looking for jobs and trying to write interesting articles about 'types of Velcro' is horrid.

When you're not working you have more time to think - time to think about whether the career you have chosen really is for you. You also imagine that everyone else in the world is having a far more fulfilling and thrilling life than you. You also start to compare your own life with others around you, which can be a very dangerous game.

Things are looking up and I am definitely feeling more positive. I have created a portfolio of work I have had published so far and I have even turned down a well-paid job, which may seem crazy in some peoples eyes but it just wasn't the career path I wanted to go down. I have always believed in following your heart.

My friends and family always say 'something will come along', thankfully they have always been right. It is just difficult to believe in that when you have had months of rejection.

I have something new on the horizon, when everything is sorted with contracts etc, I will be able to divulge.

For now, I will have to play the waiting game for a little longer.

I think it is all about training the mind - the mind is a powerful tool. You can either wake up in the morning and lie in bed worrying about getting a job or just get up and get on with finding one.