I’m reluctant to begin with another drawn out proclamation summarising the current state of affairs that plague the graduate job market, so how about a concise one instead.
Amidst a cloud of continued economic folly, unpaid internships and the shock horror of GCSEs grades falling for the first time in the exam’s 24-year history – one would assume the tough route is not to everyone’s taste. Unsurprisingly. Whichever side of the mobile political fence you pitch your tent, most would not argue that a healthy, competitive environment uncovers those most suitable for a career in their chosen field.
Countless articles dictate (or advise) which “buzz words” the ideal interviewee must utilise to impress, whilst evenings are elongated by carefully considered multiple-choice personality test answers. I find the importance of a candidate’s life-attitude and ambitions is often lost in the panic of being represented in the “perfect” light. Everyone is eventually bracketed into one jumbled mess. Granted this is by no means the sole fault of the employer, but a circumstance that has arisen from political and social failings over the past years.
I believe it is actually in the hands of the modern graduate to alter this saturated work environment. Take every opportunity to further yourself through being pro-active, and fervently express that desire and ambition to anyone you converse with. Much success I have so far had in my admittedly restricted career has occurred through such discussion. I am currently writing this from WEXO towers due to Robin and I connecting on musical ambition and his intrigue in how I have structured the next year for myself (naturally open to change). Another interview turned into an expressive and fruitful debate, which led to me receiving a number of useful contacts, and advise, despite not wanting to fully commit to the particular career path.
Hindsight is a wonderfully tortuous thing
I am a great believer in the notion of not beating around the bush – being direct with someone always goes a long way. On the back of that I am a 23 year-old graduate from the University of Leeds with a First in World & Popular Music. I often struggle when conjuring the drive within myself to proceed; yet I do not feel I lack ambition and my passion for Southeast Asian culture is leading me closer and closer to a move to Cambodia in order to pursue my love of journalism, music and social development. Hindsight is a wonderfully tortuous thing, thus I cannot stress enough the importance of expressing a genuine interest in your career choice and never being caught up in gaining ‘required’ experience for experience’s sake.
One anecdote I would like to conclude this blog with is how I came about my internship at Songlines music magazine, and why it is a prime example of what I have so far stated.
Songlines, Glastonbury & Persistence
I had interviewed the Cambodian-American group Dengue Fever over Skype for my dissertation in early 2011, and naturally decided to go and meet them at Glastonbury that year in the Songlines tent (West Holts stage). One thing led to another and with a beer in hand I got talking to the publisher of the magazine about who I was and why an internship at the magazine would be a fantastic opportunity.
Left at that, I went on a rather extended post-graduation holiday and returned in September to get stuck into the rest of my life. I was then based in Somerset, and emails to the magazine fell largely on disinterested eyes to my great disappointment. Unaware of the unstoppable flood of emails magazines have to deal with at the time, yet determined that this magazine was the perfect environment for me and a reason to move back to London, I decided to get archaic and send a letter. Behold! Two days and a phone call later and I was on my way to London to meet the assistant editor. I was explicitly told that this was the best move I could have ever made and immediately demonstrated my pro-active nature that is so desired within the media industry.
Nine months later and I continue to reap the rewards from the placement. Networking is a terribly over-used term, but still means so much in this industry. Expressing your related interests or perhaps even more importantly convincing someone of something new is your ticket to another opportunity. I continue to work at festivals, gigs, artist signings and events where I am able to connect with members of the public and music press. Nothing is more invigorating than going into work everyday to something you enjoy. Through working at Songlines and the opportunities that have occurred since (record labels and artist management), I have become very apt with InDesign, Photoshop, CRM/SEO management, website and social media development – none of this I would have forced myself to learn at home alone over such a short period of time. From a music perspective, the amount of new musical treats I have been introduced to is already uncountable.
I have not said anything that could be classed as a euphoric and game-changing statement, perhaps this blog even verges on common sense, but the opportunities do exist. Granted necessity dictates and money does not allow everyone to do exactly what one desires at that specific time, but this should not ever hinder ambition.