Can You Ever Have ‘Enough’ Work Experience?

October 14, 2012 4:53 pm

© Jenny Rollo

I’ve been watching a lot of Sex and the City lately. It just fills me with dreams of living in London, being paid to write and finally being happy. The thing is, I have a lot to be happy for – let’s not get ridiculous, I have an amazing family and friends here in Felixstowe – but it’s not enough. My Mum keeps telling me I should save, save, save and move away when I’ve save, save, saved enough, but where’s the fun in that? Wherever I’m living I’ll always be saving for something; rent, bills, food…a holiday (one can dream).

I’ve become nostalgic for Italy (I moved for a three month working contract in April and returned in July) and I don’t know if it’s because if I found myself in a sticky situation my parents wouldn’t be close enough to let their worry turn into anger, or because anything seems better than my current situation.

When I left Italy I was ready to come home, yes I was sad and shed a tear or two on the plane, but ultimately I was ready to come home and carry on my quest to become a journalist. I didn’t know it would take quite so long for this to happen – how much experience does someone need to be given an opportunity? At Uni, I was constantly told experience was the answer to employment. I spent my reading weeks and summer holidays working at various radio stations, writing blogs that no one but my kind friends would read, writing freelance for various online magazines and covering every base so that my CV was packed with experience – and it is packed.

There are more than likely thousands of other graduates looking to be given a foot in the door, each one thinking they’re owed it more than the other; I certainly do, I know how much I want it and how much it hurts that I don’t have it, but that’s not easy to convey in my hundredth cover letter. As I apply and apply every night, after another miserable shift at my summer job, each cover letter becomes more passionate than the last but with a touch more desperation. They might as well say “Look I’ve written hundreds of these things, I’m really fucking good at whatever you need me to do, read the CV, give me the job and I really bloody will prove it to you”. If only it were that simple. What do you have to do to stand out, when you’re applying for jobs in the middle of a summer full of fresh graduates on the hunt for ‘your job’?

I moved to Italy to improve my CV and look where that got me. Selling ice creams and pizza seven days a week. The irony is unbearable.

Although it seems that any amount of experience hasn’t helped my situation, it helped me on a personal level. I now know that writing is exactly what I want to do and I’ve developed my own style. Going into the big bad world without any experience is certainly a dangerous thing to do. You will struggle to find internships that will pay, and carrying out unpaid internships will land you in even more debt than ever before – but surprisingly, it will make employers admire your dedication. It’s up to you to take on an internship whether you have coursework to complete, or are just going for ‘admirable poverty’.

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  • Booo

    I did the same thing a month ago, when I decided to pack my bags and move to the Himalayas for a volunteer assignment for 4 months. It did help me figure out that I wanted to be a journalist.
    I do envy you though, for your opportunity to leave home, travel and write. From a third person’s perspective, your seems like a pretty successful life, filled with many opportunities to write and fill your CV. It is actually someone else’s ideal career path.

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