Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Job hunting part the first

So, since I'm job hunting in common with many millions of people – a big chunk of whom are graduates – I feel it's worthwhile using these experiences to blog about. In job seeking terms, this is maximising the potential of a situation to improve myself as a person.

The first thing I'm going to talk about is how wonderfully kind people are. Yeah, that's a surprise, isn't it? Looking for work is HARD, and it's easy to focus on the sensation that you and your multiple applications are basically pissing in the wind, with the only responses being cheery automated messages thanking you for your application and then nothing but deadly silence.

The thing is, though, friends and family are wonderfully kind and well-meaning. I've only been looking for work for three weeks, and I've lost count of the amount of e-mails sending over job openings, people letting me know about agencies that have worked for them, and even putting good words in for me with their workplaces. It's made me remember that the world isn't full of horrible people. There is an element of 'all in this together', storing up good karma. The job market is a horrible and uncertain place, and it feels like everyone has experienced this feeling of pissing into the wind.

I tell you what though, applying for jobs via nepotism is just weird. The jobs that friends send over in their organisations are jobs that I actually want to do and feel capable of doing. So I apply to them, but then there's that weird moment where you think – do I mention the friend or not? Sometimes you have to, as part of the application form, but other times it's weird, wondering if its worth name-dropping in the application form. Then there's the terrifying moment when you ponder if your application is wrong for the job, and if you have name-dropped the member of staff will you embarrass them?


The thing is, I'm still glad that everyone is sending over the job openings. I have no idea if they will lead to anything, but more applications the merrier. I'm being vague because if any future employers are reading this I don't want to give anything away, but one minor bit of nepotism has got me an interview which may or may not lead to a job. I've also had some leads in terms of things that aren't nepotism, so we'll just have to see what happens.

Still, it's an interesting process, and one I can look on with some objectivity as obviously I'm still in my current job so I'm not scrabbling for money, just yet. It's an interesting process. We'll see how it continues, and I will keep on squirrelling blog posts away in an attempt not to wail too loudly about how much I seem to suck at telephone interviews.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

London! Yay?

So, after years in a small town in the North of England, I am taking the well worn graduate path and moving down to London.

I would like to pretend this is because I have a shiny new job, but actually it's because my husband has a shiny new job and I am so ready for a change. When I was a student, I sort of assumed I'd end up moving to a large city, drinking lattes and using public transport. I ended back up in a small town I grew up in, managing to move all of ten miles down the road to the coast 18 months ago to a marginally larger town. I'll admit, there's a stonking pub here but that's about it.

As such, I am wildly excited. We're moving towards the end of next month. I remain excited until you ask me the following questions:

1. Where are you going to live?

2. What are you going to do for a living?

3. How do you plan to move that monstrosity you call a sofa down the stairs, anyway?

Then I sort of crumble and have to try to resist the urge to have a little cry.

Now, we are sort of coping with part 1 via going flat hunting at the weekend, and part 3 has been solved with the grim resolve of spending a large amount of money on a moving firm. I am proud of our large amount of mismatching but sturdy furniture, and I simply can't face going furniture shopping in the near future. Logically, the best thing to do is schlep it all down to London, and to prevent Mr DG and I divorcing with less than a year under our belt we may as well avoid the arguments that our mutual attempts to move furniture cause.

Part 2 is one filled with fear and horror and a grim sense of denial. Do I have a job lined up yet? No. Do I have a plan? Only if wildly flailing counts.

Still, I suppose it's more relevant to a graduate blog as we discuss my wild scrabbles through the world of jub hunting. I'm still in my current job at the moment, but desperately trying to persuade employers that I am really very good at administration and should be taken on for the specialist administration roles I'm applying for. OR EVEN A WRITING JOB TO ANYONE READING THIS. Yes, I actually do enjoy administration work, or to be precise I rather prefer getting paid and administration is the quickest way to do it. Quietly I hope I'm going to use this move to find paid employment writing stuff – are you reading this, employers? I can create content for PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING, you should see my portfolio, ASK TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO PLEASE?! However, I enjoy eating and paying rent more than I want to be a starving artist, so now it's a desperate scrabble for a job.

Still, a small and dirty part of me thinks that at least this will be stonking blogging material. Between the job hunt and the move and the new place, I am set up for MONTHS to come, before we even get to the whole bitter Northerner issue.

Plus, bonus Kermit gif.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Down with the patriarchy. Please?

The news this week has made me want to weep. As allegations about Jimmy Savile – and now, some of his colleagues – have come out in a terrifyingly long list, Justin Lee Collins has been found guilty of harassment of his ex-girlfriend, a case which has also contained some bizarre and plain nasty details. In Pakistan, the Taliban have shot 14 year old Malala Yousafzai for speaking out about women's rights.

These three cases are on the outside very different. Sexual perversion, domestic violence and attempted murder are, legally speaking, three entirely different crimes. Make no mistake, though – this is the week that the patriarchy made itself thoroughly felt on the headlines. It makes me feel a bit sick, to be honest.

Before you all start protesting that these are radically different crimes, allow me to assure you that they have one thing in common. That thing is the need to have power over women, to keep them in their place, to use violence and coercion to prove that power. Jimmy Savile allegedly chose teenage girls, the kind who would be coming into the awkward stage of adulthood but still be vulnerable. Justin Lee Collins psychologically and physically abused an ex-alcoholic who by her own admission was in a vulnerable place. The Taliban shot a girl on a bus, on her way to school.

All of the women involved in this will forever bear scars, some more literal than others, and I sincerely wish for the recovery of Malala, because she is the kind of young women we need more of. All of these women have suffered because men – and frankly, ones that sound insecure, unable to deal with strong and confident women in any way other than violence – have decided that men deserve power, that women are inferior and there to be used.

The patriarchy isn't a very trendy word. Suzanne Moore has a great piece in the Guardian about it today, actually. The concept is quite tricky to explain without sounding too strident, although on a week like this one I'll sound as damned strident as I please. Basically, though, the majority of the world lives under the rule of men. There are rules, invisible rules, designed to protect the ruling men. These rules damage men too, have no doubt about it, but the patriarchy is the thing that judges women for getting old and praising men for looking 'distinguished'. The patriarchy is the glass ceiling. The patriarchy is the anti-choice movement. The patriarchy says you get raped because you were drunk, or in a short skirt, rather than because you happened to be in the path of a rapist. The patriarchy exists where we let it exist, and it leads to men like Justin Lee Collins, insecure in their control.

It has not been a great week, in short, for happy feminist thoughts. And before anyone talks about Julia Gillard's speech, just stop a moment and think about how depressing it was the leader of a country had to stand up and say any such thing in the first place. It's a great speech, and I love the passion behind it, but my God, I wish we didn't live in a world where such a speech has to be made in the first.

Stop and think about your actions this week, and think about the patriarchy too. The next time you pass something off as 'not really mattering', like a Pimps and Hoes fancy dress night, or the Daily Mail tutting about Lady Gaga's 'shocking weight gain', think of the bigger picture. Fight it, if you can, because the other side of the coin may be uglier than you ever dared imagine.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Do shut up, Jeremy Hunt

In a way, it's almost comforting to know that two major players in the government have such an open disregard for women's right. The fact that they were respectively the Women's and Health Minister really says all you need to know.

A baby born at 22 weeks has a 1% chance of survival from the onset of labour. 1%. The Department of Health's own figures state that 91% of abortions happen under 13 weeks. Just stop for a moment, and look at those statistics properly. Women are not going around having abortions at 22 weeks willy-nilly. They are for reasons. One woman's reason to abort a foetus might not be yours, or mine, but I personally think that jeopardising the physical and mental health of a women who already lives outweigh other concerns.

Abortion should be safe, legal and above all rare. If Mr Hunt and Ms Miller are so concerned about the rights of unborn children, they should start looking at improving sex education in school. They should also start doing something about making sure that children aren't born into poverty, and go through life with a good education and better opportunities. As they are both members of a government that seems to be cheerfully pushing more children into poverty, they should really look at their priorities.

This isn't Nadine bloody Dorries, going around ranting about the unborn children and the evil nurses who deliberately kill them. She's a fringe player, with very little impact on what really happens. These two are from the government, with portfolios to deliberately care for women's health. That's why this is so enraging, and so frustrating to hear.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Beep beep

So, car insurance.

I am no longer a Young Person according to official statistics. The other day I had to fill in a form and it was with great melancholy I ticked the '25-34' box. As such, today's news stories about the car insurance industry technically don't affect me, as I am theoretically skipping into the world of 25+ married person car insurance. In theory I am stability itself.

So why, exactly, my premiums have gone up is a puzzle.

Cars are essential in today's world. I wish they weren't. I would love to get rid of my car and not have it as a necessity. Unfortunately, this would involve living in an area with decent public transport links, or indeed not working in the countryside. Both of these things are facts in my life, so I pootle on with my car. Mr DG cannot drive, so it's very definitely my car and my bills for petrol, for insurance, for car tax, and for repairs. Weirdly, I found these things slightly easier to afford when I was a student. All of the above bills have shot up exponentially in the seven years since I passed my test.

I have had very few jobs where didn't need my car to get too and from work, starting from pretty much as soon as I passed my test, which I passed about a month before my eighteenth birthday. I have a feeling that every 'group' of friends needs at least one person with a car, which has pretty much consistently been me. It makes finding work easier, it gives you a bigger list of places to live. I would feel a bit lost without my car, now.

I worry about people who have to jump straight into the new world of driving, and how they'll cope with the bills as they rise steadily. I can still afford to keep my car going, although that said my fan belt sounds like it's on the fritz and if it goes before the end of the month I'm going to have to sacrifice a pair of tights and make do. Hell, I can't afford to not keep my car going – there's no way to get to my work by public transport, and the walk would take about six hours on a good day.

I don't know if there's a point to this post, per se, other than to ponder if car insurance firms don't put out daft ideas like 'Make new drivers only drive during the day!' (so sucks to be 20 and work night shifts, then) to try and distract the rest of us from the fact that it's getting more difficult by the year to still run a car. I'm no Jeremy Clarkson, bleating on about my civil rights to drive cars at whatever speed I wish. I'm thoroughly aware of the environmental impact of cars, which if I walk and take public transport everywhere I can. But in this country, if you live outside a major city, a car is a grim necessity.

I wonder.