Clare Conway is an English Literature and Spanish graduate from Cardiff University, taking the Magazine journalism course at City. She has had placements at nationals (The Sunday Times magazine, the New Statesman) as well as experience expounding the joys of gambling at PokerPlayer magazine. Before starting at City, she worked as an editorial assistant at the children’s newspaper, First News. You can find her blogging about her mad Irish family on Freckles.
As a near-graduate, I’ve taken to scouring job sites with unhealthy haste. My classmates are doing the same. Pitted one against the other, we enter into a battle of CVs and covering letters, each peppered with promises of competence and flair. And our sights aren’t just set on the real jobs.
Trawling through Gorkana I’m overwhelmed by the number of offers for unpaid internships: “Invaluable experience” they read. I saw one for a six-month stint in a fashion cupboard, and though I’m not sure what I’d gain from confinement in a 4×6 room (aside from claustrophobia), I’m beginning to think I ought to apply… just in case. “I will not!” my inner voice rallies in petulance. “I gave the MA everything. EVERYTHING! I will wait for a paid job.”
Meanwhile, my classmates are dropping like Guess Who? characters. At least a quarter have proper jobs that don’t fall into the category of workie or intern. They have much more exotic names like the elusive “editorial assistant” or the even more enviable “features writer”. “Take me with you,” yelps the persistent inner voice, though it’s no good. It’s hard enough finding one real job, let alone a spare one for your mate.
Of course I have a dream job in mind, though someone more senior and deserving holds it. (“She’s minding it for you,” says inner voice). Realistically I’m a long way from getting there, and for now I’ll be content forging the beginning of a career. My requirements are undemanding – if I was a job advert I’d ask magazines for the following: London (are you based there?), Will you let me write stuff?, Is the team fun?, Interested in the content (mine, although you should like your magazine too)?, Free stuff (I don’t mind what)?
It should be simple, but I’m still holding out for The One. In moments of early onset hysteria I turn to a game of Solitaire on my laptop and wait to be headhunted. “Ah Miss Conway, we’ve been expecting you,” will come the purring Bond villain phone call. “Your patch file exposé on dogs shitting in Regent’s Park was exceptional.” I imagine the voice will be Russian, only I’m still waiting to find out. I should have signed up to LinkedIn so the Moscow Herald could get my number.
But of course it runs deeper than that. Momentary avoidance masks the real worry of “what happens if I don’t find a good job?” Then what do I have, if not my class patch file and those cosy City tutorials? The course was expensive, at £8,500, though the skills I have learnt have warranted the cost.
Certainly I’m equipped for a real job, and as a result, quite employable. It’s the initial free for all on the jobs that will be the struggle. And the prospect of being the last Guess Who? character standing is enough to send anyone hurling themselves headlong into an unpaid cupboard.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look