• Life after graduation

    I love checking out my stats on the wordpress dashboard. It’s really eye opening! My random little post on nineties music got my most views ever. And I like seeing the different searches that people are using and getting to my blog from. Up till now, my faves were “can’t wear my contacts” and “flatmates won’t take out bin.” I think that’s hilarious. Really, seriously, do people google phrases like that?

    But I think the current top search is more telling than funny. “is it easy to find jobs after graduation in Auckland?”

    Well, I don’t know. Not too much different than any other city, I’d imagine. But of course it’s impossible to say, too much depends on your field and your contacts and experience.

    I’m incredibly lucky I think, to have the job I do, a fairly professional, respectable job for my age. I’d never have had some of the opportunities I’ve had otherwise. I think it’s also given me the confidence I need in other areas of my life, and probably helped me decide to accept that freelance writing last year (some of which I haven’t been paid for yet!).

    I’ll be graduating next year, one of the few in my group to do so. I’ll be out earning, out in the workforce before almost everyone else. Now I’m finding it a little scary after meeting a intern here who’s just finished her degree in journalism. What do we do after it all, where do we go? What if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be?
    I have a few friends who’ve graduated now. I don’t think they are necessarily totally prepared for the real world, or at least the working world. Even at the best of times it’s not easy being a fresh grad with no experience, even more so if you don’t know exactly what you want to do. I mean, it could lead you into a number of areas, but at the same time you may think ‘no that’s not quite right’ and end up looking forever and do nothing at all.

    Even at the best of times, you have to apply to tens or hundreds of roles, far and wide, as many as you can. Because you’re only going to hear back from a very small percentage of them. And go further, to interviews and second interviews, to even less. And today, well, things are really tough – there are way too many people out there and even fewer jobs. No wonder people are going back to school for another year or two.

    My point is, even during the good times you have to work and work and wait to score yourself a job. It’s really about the numbers. Applying to three or four positions won’t get you anywhere. And you need to be so well prepared for interviews, you’ve got to prep, dress the part, act the part, practice answers and anticipate questions. Otherwise you have no chance at all. And that’s something I don’t think everyone understands. They think they’ll just waltz in somewhere, impress the pants of the bosses and be offered a job. Or they’ve had fairly low level studenty jobs and don’t understand the processes of applying for professional roles. Or even worse, their tutors and lecturers assure them they’ll get jobs after graduation, and companies will be coming TO THEM!

    I think that’s just plain irresponsible. How can you say that to your students? The economy’s tanked, you have way too many engineering and business students, you have no way of knowing what the market will be like when they graduate. And certainly companies will not be chasing them. Maybe the very best, that’s true. But telling EVERYONE to not worry, well, that’s just encouraging laziness and a false sense of security. I’m not jealous of my friends who are constantly reassured. I just don’t believe it, and I hope they don’t either. You’ve got to do the hard work yourself.

  • Self doubting


    Now I’m into journalism, I’m feeling conflicted. I know it’s the right choice, it’s what I want to do and there’s nothing else I’m interested in, in terms of major.

    It’s way easier to move into PR and marketing than vice versa, and I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at publicity at some point.

    But in terms of journalism, well I’m having major self doubts. How am I going to find stories every week? I mean, I know it’s possible – thousands of past students have done it. But without press releases landing on your desk, without a huge social network or connections, without involvement in tons of groups and the community, it’s really daunting. Let alone breaking important news…

    And in terms of actually working post grad, then what? I’m definitely into beauty, but by no means am I any sort of authority. I’ve come to enjoy hard news more, but I don’t think it’s where I want to stay. Especially since I’ve noticed a pattern: something happens, something bad, kneejerk reaction, go to authoritative sources to comment and report on subsequent ‘calls for action’ whether it’s tougher laws, smoke alarms, more lifeguards, more police, cracking down on drink driving, whatever. And it seems kinda of repetitive and lame to me. One negative event doesn’t warrant a full on banning of whatever is at fault, especially when it happens over and over.

    Being a columnist certainly looks fun, though I don’t know what on earth I’d ramble on about. Then again, look at stuff like the Listener (a mag I do enjoy!) and Bill Ralston’s Life column, the Inbox column, the Internaut…. My opinions aren’t strong enough on REAL issues, as yet, and I definitely couldn’t defend any of my views very well at all. And frankly, I hate conflict. Which is no good, and I’ll have to develop a much thicker skin, I know.

    I think I’d really like to get into features, especially music writing. Ever since I stopped playing guitar my love of music has waned. I used to religiously have the radio on, and listen to music on my computer 24/7. I haven’t had the radio on in months, and because I only just figured out how to make the new Windows Media Player sync with my music folder, I wasn’t listening to my songs. I’m hoping to get back into playing guitar later on, now that I’ve realised it really is okay to just putter around and play for the hell of it. I was getting too worked up, too focused on GETTING GOOD and it simply wasn’t fun or relaxing anymore. I wasn’t improving and I just couldn’t play standing up. Now I really don’t care whether I can play upright or not, or whether I can play Astronomy perfectly, I’d just like to get back in the zone of playing for hours, just because. And I think tying that in with writing would be amazing. I love being at gigs, I like the buzz of events. I would be keen as to do reviews and interviews and be part of the scene that way.

    I’ve almost convinced myself! But anyway, that’s still a far far distant dream; there’s lots to get through before that point. As time goes on though, I’ve realised it’s okay to not actually know what you want. So many people don’t. even ones much, much older than me. They don’t have all their shit together, and so I’m not gonna panic. Careers today are so much more dynamic, and it’s not that hard (at least in the media field, from what I can see) to move laterally, sideways, or even transition from sales to editorial. And with the web growing by the day, hopefully there will be lots of online opportunities come next year.

  • My Laid-Off Life

    Seven NYers share their stories of redundancy.
    Check this one out: http://nymag.com/news/business/53153/index1.html

    He’s 24, still on his parents’ phone plan, had a car lease which his parents are paying for, expects they’ll also cover his rent, is worried what his GF will say about him staying at his parents’ if he gets a job out that way, “tries” to go job hunting but often decides to get out his Les Paul and pretend he’s John Mayer.

    Boy, when times are hard, the hard get going! Cars and guitars are luxuries you can’t afford. Sell the LP for whatever you can get. Maybe he can’t break the car lease but hopefully he’ll think twice before leasing in the future. While his GF has two jobs, he’s all: I’m applying for blue collar manufacturing jobs.

    Well I’ll tell you, it’s not something you can just step into. It takes time to get good at. There are apprenticeships in welding. You actually get qualified in welding; whether it’s specifically welding or general engineering. You can’t expect to walk in and start working. I know this because this is what my partner does. And it’s not as easy as some white collar professionals might think.

    It always bugs me that people automatically assume “manual” work is poorly paid and guys should get educated and get desk jobs and wear suits. I admit I still have vestiges of that stereotype in my head. But I’m learning. It takes years to gain the skills needed for many trade jobs. And they’re not always easy to come by. To get qualified takes years, and you have to find a place to get trained in, which is much, much harder than simply enrolling at uni. Good tradespeople make more than I will probably ever make in journalism, although they’ll probably have a shorter working life (and a harder life along the way). But I say, if you’re making a good honest living and you enjoy it, well everyone else can STFU.

    I cannot imagine the boy working a desk job or wearing shirts and ties, or even worse, SUITS to work! Frankly, some people were made to work inside an office (me) and some weren’t. He likes to be out and about, doesn’t like to be cooped up. He likes variety. And he’s good with his hands. He’s strong, coordinated, good at making things. He overheats far too easily and would not feel at home in a job where it’s really important to maintain an image. He’s too honest, too earthy, and would probably spend his days sweating it out under a collared shirt and loafers.

    Me on the other hand, I have a hankering to wear pencil skirts and tailored suit jackets to work.

  • Am I doing the right thing?

    I’ve been thinking, A LOT, about the future and what it holds. Escaping to Europe after graduation is sounding really tempting. Not straight away of course, after working and saving for a few months. I don’t know what kind of job I’d be able to get overseas, but I think I definitely have the itch…

    To a lesser degree I’ve been thinking about my degree, and whether I made the right choice. Would I be where I am today if I was doing a plain old BA? Who knows? Probably not. But maybe in the long run it would serve me better; I’d have a wider, more rounded base of knowledge. And I know people with BAs who’ve gone straight into media type work and then stepped into PR right after that, which makes me wonder why bother with a BCS?

    But I think stories like that are the exception rather than the norm, and you need, often, to be in the right place at the right time. You need to be a certain kind of person, social, networking, well connected usually, and it helps if you’re attractive and, if you’re working in mags, well off enough that you can dress and act the image.

    I’ve found it hard to keep the blog at work going; I’m not really out and about doing awesome things or being seen at society events, or going to fab restaurants or buying new accessories/makeup/beauty stuff that could be written up. I’m certainly not in the loop to hear about upcoming events, I rely on the other staff to keep me up to date and let me know if there’s anything important coming up that should go online. It takes a lot of my time digging around trying to find tidbits for the blog!

    I’ve also started to really question my writing ability. I swear I’m slowly dumbing down; my vocab is shrinking and I can rarely ever get the right adjective that I want…instead I dance around it in my head and have to consult a thesaurus to pin it down. It’s really frustrating! A dear friend said I was the best writer ever, which was very sweet of her but I really don’t think I can live up to that anymore. Writing on cue is hard. Writing to deadline is near impossible. I fear I’ll never be able to churn out the best writing I can on tight news deadlines. It’s hard enough trying to hammer out a good piece of fluff for the site or newsletter in a day…

    So I’m doubting my future in writing, it’s not looking all that bright at the moment. I’m also sick of mag language; the liberal use of exclamation points and the overuse of ‘fabulous’ (it seriously appears in every other paragraph).

  • Facebook and different generations

    Facebook is a really interesting topic to ponder. Just listening in to conversations at work got me thinking about how differently I perceive it, and use it, compared to slightly older people. I’m talking maybe late 20s to early 30s, and older too.

    Basically these ladies were lamenting the posting of photos on FB (of them, put up by others). They’re all very polished, groomed women and are always looking their best, especially out and about and at functions. But not everyone looks perfect all the time; by the end of the night your makeup’s wearing off and your hair’s a little wild and you’ve been dancing unabashedly and are a little worse for wear. And they were none too happy with some pics posted on FB of them that they thought were less than flattering.

    It really worried them that they couldn’t control this aspect; that others could post stuff about them without their permission. One of them also complained about old schoolmates posting photos of when they were young and awkward (but weren’t we all pretty dorky to some extent back in the day?). I have photos on FB from primary school (posted by someone else) but I really don’t care. I did not enjoy my school years, but thankfully as time passes the bad memories fade. I just look back and laugh. I think it’s hilarious! We’ve all changed so much. I think it’s cute and it’s great that those pics are up there for us to look back on one day.

    Although I’m not much younger than these people I guess it’s quite a different mindset, and they are after all in much later stages of life than me. I guess if you’re in publishing or media or politics or have an otherwise high profile, you have to protect your reputation and guard your online identity as closely as possible.

  • Getting ahead

    Suze Orman raises some interesting points in Young, Fabulous and Broke.

    She reckons it’s your job to support your boss and make them look great – your time will come once you’ve helped establish their strong position, become indispensable, and endeared yourself to them.

    And I agree, you gotta put in the hard yards before expecting anything in return. Aside from that, I am
    not so sure, but i guess if you can prove yourself to be invaluable to your company you’re in a very strong position. Volunteer for extra projects, overtime, and do whatever you may be asked even if not in your job description.

    That’s stuff I do by nature anyway, but I think it’s even more relevant in this “economic climate” if you intend to hold onto your job. I’m hoping late next year my efforts will be rewarded. I’ve done two night shifts this past fortnight, after never having done any in a year and a half. I don’t know if it’s hurt my chances, me working upstairs half the time, but it’s been an invaluable experience I wouldn’t give up for anything. Much as I bitch about its down sides, and feeling out of place in my chain store clothing and ‘expensive’ $50 dress compared to their immaculately tailored outfits, I never would have scored such an amazing opportunity if I hadn’t got my foot in the door with Online.

  • Sim card error

    Sim card error – three words that strike fear into my heart. This usually comes after my phone takes a slide off my lap and into the middle aisle of the bus, landing with a sickening thwack.
    So far it has revived, every time, after being turned off and back on….but one day surely i won’t be so lucky. And I’m not looking forward to that day! i don’t want a new phone! i’m extremely attached to my gx17. it is lacking in many departments such as camera quality, but i hardly ever use that. it has minimal features, compared to the superphones of today. but its sturdy, pretty and easy to use. it’s lasted me three years and im not willing to fork out hundreds for a new one, esp as almost all phones these days are butt ugly. i have to admit i’d love a phone that did everything – and i mean absolutely everything, because i’d use it as an organiser – but imagine how lost i’d be if i ever lost or broke that phone.

    In other things…we have precisely enough this week for groceries. So gas, lunches and any incidentals will send us into the red. Woohooo…..

    OTOH I worked almost 50 hours this week (and may do more tomorrow if I feel up to it) so next paycheck will be nice and fat, comparatively. And man did I work hard for it! I’m hoping IT don’t monitor our usage too closely, beause I must have downloaded over 100mb of stuff today trying to get that java problem fixed. And I did (and it’s cemented why I will never get a mac). I’ve been leaving late this week, 5.30, every day, and it sucks.

    All the staff on level 4 work 8.3 to 5.30; I guess I might be expected to do the same, although it’s never been voiced. I’ve just been coming in 9-5 as I would do on my days downstairs. But this week it just got too much for me…I felt guilty andlazy and slack for taking off at 5 everyday. Hence my staying till 5.30. And yet I’m still the first to leave! God knows how long people actually do stay at work. 9.5 hours? 10? I never want to have to do that, especially on a salary. I see how stressed some of them get too, and I pray I’ll never be like that. I’d rather have a less prestigious, less well paid job and have some balance in my life.

  • Work to live, live to work…

    It seems to me there are two distinctly different attitudes toward work. Either you enjoy work and really make a career for yourself, or you’re just working a job – any job, doesn’t make too much difference what. I’ve always been in the first category.

    Musing about what I was going to be when I grew up, being really driven to do something big (oh, idealism).

    The boy doesn’t really know what he wants to do (you know, IN LIFE) and I don’t think he was really pushed to think about a career much when he was younger, just concentrating on his sports. A different kind of culture really (I mean in terms of values, not ethnicity). More of a live for the present thing, rather than looking ahead.

    We both assumed he’d stay in this field but depending on how it does next year we may rethink that. I told him now’s a good time to retrain, maybe in IT or something.

    That was a few weeks ago…now he’s looking at taking another job next year (closer to home, Avondale) – no training/qualification prospects, but actually steady work, and the kind of place you tend to stay all your life and move on up. Old school. I don’t know how I feel about that. Education has always been so important to me, and in this case, getting qualified was really important to him. The plan was we’d pay for it ourselves if needed and take out a student loan for him. But I guess things change. In the end what really matters is if he’d be happy. And if he’d enjoy working there, not just doing it for the money, well then it’s the right choice. I’m just not sure that it is.

  • Being done with uni for the year is freaking awesome. I don’t have anything I NEED to do in my weekends/evenings. However, on my to do list

    Get new guitar strings/get back into playing

    Weed, rake up garden

    Get lawn mowed

    Organise contents insurance

    Read books on the list I compiled last week

    On Friday I actually dusted in our room (first time since we moved in, disgusting, yes?) and was revolted at the thick dark dust on all our surfaces. And I organised my stuff on top of my dresser and drawers (really want new dresser, but can’t afford one. Come to think of it, I’d like a fabulous new closet with tons of room, sliding wire racks, heaps of storage space, etc. but hey.) I even threw out a bunch of stuff – bottles, makeup, other detritus – unheard of for a hoarder like me! And without feeling a single pang of loss. I guess after starting to put together a story on spring cleaning your makeup bag I thought I should put that into action for myself. It’s disgusting that I have lipsticks from back in intermediate school.

    It also leaves me lots of time for blogging (obviously) and thinking… like, maybe I’d like to get into publishing some day. It first occurred to me after reading Marian Keys’ The Other Side of the Story and thinking Jojo had a pretty cool job and wouldn’t it be fun being a book agent? But I couldn’t do the whole selling thing. I’ve never been in retail/sales and I think that’s for a reason. Then I thought maybe I’d like to be a reader, going through all the manuscripts sent into agencies by wannabe JK Rowlings and Dan Brows. I love reading. What could be better than getting paid to read? But you’d be reading all the crap stuff (99%) and I wouldn’t ever want to lose my love of books. Plus, readers are low level and presumably low paying jobs, and by the sounds of it, it’s hard to move up. And I’m not confident I could pick hits as my reading taste is sometimes a little eccentric. I could get into editing – but it’s a bit dry, really, and my grammar is passable but nothing special. Spelling, though, I’d cut up. I always wanted to be in a wicked spelling bee…

    It’s just amazing to realise just how many different kinds of jobs there actually are out there – ones you never really consider or hear about. You tend to think you’re restricted to the main degree areas, like business and law and engineering, etc, but there’s so much more out there (albeit less common ones).

  • Bullet points

    • I’ve always dismissed the idea of being a freelancer. Freelancers are flakey, insecure, don’t get benefits. I didn’t think I would have the discipline to get anything done if I didn’t go into an office every day. But writing for Verve and Cafe Philosophy this year has shown me that i could, in fact work from home. It would be really  nice in some ways. No more rushing around in the mornings or waiting for buses that are invariably late.
    • I’ve been finding it hard to draw the line between advertorial and editorial. Writing my Unitec story, for example. But I think an easy way to look at it is to see if there are any news values, ie, writing about Unitec if it was just opening, vs what I wrote about the courses it offers – basically a plug for them
    • I was freaking out not long ago about being 20. Two entire decades. But at some point I realised that I have plenty of time. The general plan is to work for a couple of years, then go overseas once the boy gets qualified (he’d be a couple of years behind me) and then work/travel for a year or two. then, in theory, come home and hopefully be able to buy some sort of place to live in. By then I’d still only be in my late 20s – not even 30. Pleeeenty of time.