Tick tick tick, typing letters and clicking, clicking, clicking on links to jobs, positions, openings, work. Writing cover letters, then fiddling with my CV. Bizcommunity.com, rifling through the Careers section of the paper, checking emails from friends, bizcommunity.com, visiting publications that haven’t even got openings, bizcommunity.com, then emailing those publications, bizcommunity.com. 633 openings, 547 openings, 732 openings. PA positions, writing positions, editing positions. And they all require three years experience, five years experience, two years experience.
My experience? None. Well, almost none. I mean, not none none, but basically none. For all intents and purposes, I can say none. A few months here and a few months there don’t add up to anything formidable (in case you’re wondering, I was studying at the time, not moving around to avoid the police or anything). But you’re new to the job market, Sam, I hear you say, surely there must be something for you! Something that doesn’t require experience. Well, you’d be wrong. Wronger than wrong. As wrong as a priest touching someone on their studio.
I thought that two degrees would count for something. Well, they do. But not much. They might as well be a pat on the head or a golden star on the forehead for all my potential future employers care.
I have now got 26 CVs making the rounds. My friend Martinette (also fruitlessly job hunting) and I decided that depression is only an option when we have successlessly (OK, OK, so it’s not technically a word) applied for 81 jobs. This is the scary number a friend of hers reached with zero call backs. With a mere 26 under my belt I have no reason to feel morose. It’s kind of like a count down to depression, which, if I reach 81, will end with an open packet of Nik Naks lying splayed on the floor, chips scattered everywhere and chocolate smears on my clothes. Like an alcoholic binge, but far cheaper (compare: shots (x5) = R50, packet of Nik Naks = R8.90).
So far I’ve got four replies from potential future employers (let’s call them PFEs). Of the first three, one was from the Economist, one was an automated response, and one was from Primedia. The Economist said “Thanks for trying, mortal”, the automated response wasn’t very personal, but Primedia was scarily warming. I wondered if they had some kind of empathy training before composing the rejection email, which said “we appreciate that the skills and experience that you have could make a valuable contribution to our organisation.” I didn’t feel rejected and all, and wondered if the secretary sending the mail had a friend. When I opened the fourth reply (actually for an internship instead of a job job). I stifled a sigh, then my heart skipped a beat when I didn’t pick up the word ‘regret’ in the mail. Someone wanted to interview me!
I immediately went into Outfit Planning Mode. I did my laundry and thoughtfully went through the items when hanging them on the clothes horse. The ideal outfit would require a sunny day, but knowing my luck and the Universe’s penchant to make me look a fool, I expected wind, rain and smog. Which is what I got. This means that waking up early to straighten my hair was a complete waste of time, electricity and optimism. When I was interviewed (such nice people! In such a shiny office!) I tried my best to come across as friendly (was smiling so much I might have looked crazy instead), intelligent, wise, eager to learn, experienced, keen, excited, and sane. A tricky mix. Tricky, tricky, tricky.
However, it’s a mix I somehow pulled off, because today, it’s official. My Countdown to Depression slate has been wiped clean. I got the internship! After all, as Oscar Wilde says, the best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.