“There’s jobs out there, you just have to find them…”

13 Nov

So you’re looking for a job, you’ve about 5 different CVs on the go,  registered with every recruitment firm…and someone says you’re not looking hard enough. It’s like jobs are some sort of magical creature that only come out at night, invisible to the naked eye. Just keep repeating – there are 25-32 people looking to fill any one position that becomes available. “Sure aren’t there advertisements for jobs in the local paper every week?” – yes, the majority of which are either extremely specific and therefore most likely already filled, or they’re commission-based. If you can’t manage to land yourself a paid position, there’s always the lucrative position of earning €230 for a 40 hour week through JobBridge. Some of us have no choice but to accept these internships, others just can’t afford the risk.

I was unemployed for 14 months after returning from London last year. I had no idea it was going to last that long. In that time I completed a Diploma in Community work and gained skills and experience in various different areas, but no job, no stability. I got a number of interviews where I was told I’d get bored and that this was their reason for hesitating to hire me. How do they know what I want? I applied for the job because I want to make money, what happens inside my head is of no concern to them. However, it seems the human resources departments of many businesses around Galway are better judges of personality than the jobseekers themselves. This forced me to leave my qualifications off my CV; which in turn put me in the difficult position of trying to explain why I had so many part-time jobs; which resulted in them thinking I couldn’t hold down a job. It’s a lose-lose situation.  We’re told to be entrepreneurs; I advertised myself as a philosophy and law tutor and had students return to me for more help – will I get an award for being “innovative”? I sincerely doubt it. Passing on knowledge isn’t profitable. I did workshops on various different areas of grassroots activism…still no sign of being asked to appear on The Apprentice. You see, when they say to us that we need to be business-minded, what they are basically saying is we need to be completely selfish to the point of negatively impacting the lives of others around us. I ain’t into that.

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Then I got offered the dream position. A role that combined community development, social media, international human rights and grassroots activism. A role that was a JobBridge. In Dublin. Where the average rent is twice that which I was struggling to pay in Galway. I accepted the offer and started to dream about the endless opportunities that could start opening up for me. Then I realised I’d be earning €238 a week in Dublin….I’d probably have to live rent-free for a few weeks before I could even consider putting together a deposit. There are too many stories to tell about the current housing crisis, let it just be said that it was the issue of shelter that ultimately saw me turn down the position. Another time maybe, when’s it a properly paid role. It’s not the organisation’s fault, their funding has been stripped because they dare to question the status quo – their outlook isn’t commercial enough. There are those who can up sticks and do such an internship. You need to have an amount of cash to fall back on to do any such thing. There’s far too many of us who have so such cushion at all.

After 14 months I finally got work in a medical devices firm. Working nights, carrying out the same action hundreds of times a day….but hey it’s clearing debt and paying the bills. I’m in my late 20s, I’ve 8 years of college behind me  and every path that I want to take to further my career is blocked by economic factors. There is no other option but to try and make as much money as one can in any old position, and then get out of here as soon as possible. My dream has always been to train to be a barrister – I need €13000 for that. I want to take the skills I’ve learnt in the various different disciplines and fields I’ve operated in, and put them to use in areas where they would be most beneficial. Travelling costs money, accommodation costs money, stability costs money. So the plan is to plough through with this job, make as much as I can, and see if it gives me the financial security to make the decisive next step in my academic career. It’s like we’re punished for wanting to focus on areas that are not commodified. How dare our interests lie outside the realm of business. I see it on the faces of my colleagues every night. Working to live, living to work; in pure survival mode – keep the head down, make your cash and go home. Atomised and full of disillusion; we move from a feeling of worthlessness on the dole to a state of constant unease once in work.

I know that every off day I had whilst unemployed and every bad day I have now with a job, has been experienced by others around the country. The solution is not an individual one, it can only be collective. Let’s change the narratives with a few tales of our own.

 

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