In my many dreamy reveries prior to my arrival in Edinburgh, I imagined the job I would get and how I could finally exit the food and beverage industry and try my hand at a “big girl” job. I spent weeks converting my Canadian resume into a British CV, with no doubt in my mind that it was well written and enthusiastic enough to at least score me a few interviews for awesome jobs.
I was Canadian, enthusiastic, smart, likeable and well spoken! What crazy person WOULDN’T hire me?!
Pretty much everyone.
My ultimate goal was to find a job working for the University of Edinburgh, preferably in the International Exchange Office (since I had been an exchange student myself). There was even this wonderful-sounding job advertised: head of North American student recruitment for the University. This included about four months travel to North America per year. Travel back home while being paid? Yes please! Public speaking and motivating students to learn and study abroad? Absolutely awesome! Knowledge of North American school systems, student visa processes and study abroad programs? Yup, yup! Experience in a similar role? No, but I’m smart, I’ll figure it out.
No such luck, not even one interview – not even for the “back-up” jobs that didn’t require experience. I sent out dozens of CVs to office-like jobs, mostly at the University. Nothing.
The big thing about working in the UK in the current economic climate is that,
#1: there’s quite a lot of snobbery about. Employers have their overwhelming pick of prospective employees at the moment – so many people are job searching. Therefore, when a carbon-copy, exact-match, experience-in-the-same-job-elsewhere person applies, they are the obvious choice.
#2: This makes it very difficult to receive an interview for any job outside of your experience, including minimum wage, entry-level jobs. My efforts to acquire an office-type job were therefore viewed as laughable.
I thought that my many years of experience as a supervisor in a fine dining restaurant (which actually included a LOT more office work than you might think) would at least secure me a decent job if I couldn’t get the one I really wanted. But no.
I am working full-time which is apparently very lucky, for minimum wage (in this country that puts me below the poverty line) serving in a café. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my job. The people are fun and friendly, and it’s easy, but at 24 years old, with my education and experience, I just feel like I’m beyond the working-in-a-café-for-minimum-wage stage of my life.
Also, making minimum wage greatly decreases my ability to travel – which was one of the reasons I wanted to be in Europe long-term.
This is one of the reasons I started this blog. I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember (I even wrote 50 pages of a ‘novel’ when I was 12), but I always thought this was too impractical a dream. But after seeing how hard it is in the UK job market to get ANY full-time job at all, let alone one I might find real value in, I decided it was worth giving it a shot and start creating my own, miniscule niche.