Recently, I went for a social media related job I thought I was perfect for. Being a blogger – and part of a generation obsessed with social media – it’s safe to say I live and breathe what this role entails. I’m always brainstorming and researching new ideas to get my blog content out there and if I’m up to anything remotely cool or interesting, you can bet I’m talking about it on Facebook. But – and this is seemingly a big but – I work in retail.
For a long time now, I’ve been trying to break into the industry of journalism or at least get a job somewhat related to my degree. I’ll admit – there are some times I try harder than others. There are also some times where I’ve been happy going with the flow – my role at H&M Luton was one of those times. I’d only planned to stay there until I found another job, but being my first proper full time job, I enjoyed being on a somewhat decent wage and loved my colleagues so I found myself staying for around two years, not really focusing on any long term career prospects.
Now that I’m full on job hunting again though, I’ve noticed one thing. My CV is very varied. I have lots of experience but when you really look closer at the experience which is made up of internships, freelance roles and contributing roles, it’s hard to say whether it’s real experience or not. In between this experience has been the jobs where I’ve earned money – in retail, in admin and one extremely fun but brief season of being a scare technician!
This is why I was a little disheartened during a job interview lately to be told what I thought was five years of experience actually really adds up to around two years – which I totally get, of course, because essentially, I’ve only really worked and been paid for working in an editorial role for one year altogether.
I never saw this as much of an issue, despite my sister telling me so. Trying to break into such a tough industry like journalism (or any creative industry really) is super hard and these days not only do you need to really stand out, you most definitely need the experience (as there’s always someone with just that bit more experience than you) and often you need to know the right people too.
So where I saw my CV as trying my best but still being motivated – I work in retail because I still need to earn money and during this time I am constantly getting other experience like blogging for Metro or helping out with Invicta Magazine’s social media), I’ve realized that potential employee’s see it as a little worrying.
Why haven’t I broken into the industry yet? Why do I flit from promising internships to basic wage retail jobs? Wouldn’t it have been better for me to take on internship after internship instead of internship-retail role-internship?
And don’t even get me started on travelling. On one hand, I believe that travel and life experience is essential for creative roles, especially if you want someone who thinks outside of the box. But what if you’ve spent years travelling and arrive home without any actual industry experience and find yourself unable to find a job?
It’s extremely hard to find that balance between getting as much experience under your belt and, well, actually earning money. I will take any job to keep my head above water – I am not a snob when it comes to jobs that may pay less or may require less challenging work than what I do now. I see it as hardworking to sometimes choose a secure job over a ‘maybe’ internship that will give you experience. It’s entirely true that sometimes you should take a chance on a maybe if it’s really what you want to do. But it’s also important to think long term and logistically – if you cannot afford to live on a non-existent internship wage, then choosing a secure job where you can earn money may be the right answer.
Now that I’m nearing 30 years old, it’s time for me to find a career choice and not just a job. But looking over my CV and seeing what once looked like someone with lots of varied experience who is willing to try anything once now looks like someone who realistically cannot catch a break to break into that industry.
So, how do we fix this? It’s the age old debate – internships provide a wealth of knowledge but even with too many internships and no actual career under your belt you can come across as unreliable – and now skint too.
In my opinion, the best thing for me – and others like me – to keep doing is to simply carry on with what we’re already doing. We may work in retail or admin instead of our dream jobs in London. But do we go home after our 9-5 shifts and switch off? No, we don’t. We blog. We share content. We research SEO. We teach ourselves code. We write for websites and publications for free because it gets our names out there. We job hunt. We photograph. We begin side hustles and look into new business ideas for a little extra cash. We network.
So although a quick look at our CV’s may look like we can’t get our dream job, if you look closer, you’ll see that we’re taking on anything we can to fund the careers we want. We earn money but we rarely ever switch off because we’re always doing something to further ourselves and better ourselves towards that end goal.
We just need to hope that sooner or later someone will take that chance on us.
What do you think? Do you think varied experience and CV gaps are really as bad as they seem? Or do you think it’s just our generation? Let me know!