Life Decisions this Week
This week wasn’t blue Monday or any other so called worst week of the year. This week marks the 34th week since I received my results for my degree in graphic communication.. 34 weeks. That equates to 7 months in case you’re flexing your noggin working it out. And way too many days to count up. The point is, it’s been a while since I graduated.
And to date, the road has been winding, on this journey of mine. At uni, I worked very hard and for that hard work, I received praise and a warm reception. I felt valued and respected among not only my peers, but my tutors as well. It all seemed to be going rather well.
We had a couple of “meet the industry” days where my portfolio was assessed and regarded with what I felt was a luke-warm reception. This, I told myself, was part of the eating, destructive self doubt that overcomes creatives. After all, the tutors had been so supportive. As creatives, we look for any sign of negativity to confirm that people know we’re just about muddling through; making it up as we go along. Blagging and chancing it.
However, it’s all been a little bit tumble weed since then.
As part of our studies, we needed to show we were applying for work. I did so, but with only just the right amount of effort and certainly not expecting any response. My position would be coming from a different angle from those of my peers; they were all around 20 to 25 years old, without children and for the main part, any commitments. They had the flexibility to go where and when they required.
I, on the other hand, had a family to consider and this meant staying with in the local area. Based between Cardiff and Swansea, I’m not exactly in the desert of opportunity, but the richness of employment isn’t the same as it would be if I was based in London, Bristol or Oxford for example. Basically, I’ve had to stay local.
This doesn’t mean that nothing has come up. Not at all. There are some fantastic and brilliant design companies in the south of Wales, producing en point shit. Fo' sho. Jobs come up; they sound amazing. The work sounds amazing. The companies sounds amazing. I work my CV to make me sound amazing. I tweet my website to look a little more amazing. I might be a little bit bonus and apply using MailChimp as an email tool (this lets you add in pictures and create a layout design using typography, rather than just words on a screen). However, after all this work, I have received a bear minimum in responses and only one interview (with no feedback).
What. The Fuck???
It’s all suddenly gone from hero to zero.
After being pumped with ego, love, and high on my results I left uni believing I was a pretty good catch. The amazing thing about this, is I’d spent the previous three years completely enveloped in self-doubt and feeling very much like a fish out of water. To finally accept myself and my ability to produce work of a certain standard was quite liberating. So…I applied. And applied. And looked back on previous applications and cringed at how I’d applied. So…I reassessed and applied some more. I changed my website. I changed my CV. For one application, I printed and stitched a little booklet designed to show why I would be the perfect person for the job.
Now, here’s the thing. If (and I mean if), I heard back at all, it was a no. That’s ok - a no is better than nothing. But most of the time, there would be no response. Or a promise of a response, but then no response. The only way I would find out I hadn’t got the job, would be to see the position advertised once again. Like a great big slap in the face.
I can understand it, it’s just very disappointing after the days of effort an application takes. And I can understand that many of the applications received are just hopers and chancers and immediately get filed under ‘bin’ for their poor layout and bad spelling.
So I’m at a crossroads. A career crossroads. Behind me is four years of blood, sweat and tears. My family putting up with seeing the back of my head at a desk from morning until night. Neglected evenings and sacrificed weekends. I came out with a degree and felt ready to go forth into the world of graphics. I’d get a job at a design studio, thirsty to learn under the wing of some groovy designers and build my portfolio. I knew I didn’t want to set up on my own - I need to work with people. I gain so much from bouncing ideas and exploring avenues with others. Also, I don’t have the will to go it alone; not with dragging my family along as well. I suppose it would be different if I was in another place in my life.
Here I am at the cross roads. Forward is the path of ‘go and get a job in a design studio, or at a company who needs a graphic designer’. To the left is ‘set up on your own or with another’ and to the right is ‘get a permanent job now and forget the world of graphics’. Sigh.
I’m running out of strength and self belief. I recently contacted one of my peers at uni to see if she wanted to start a company together. She was a fantastic student, achieving first class honours and was recognised consistently for her effort and high quality work. It turns out she was in the same boat as me; she was also very down about things and feeling that things were going nowhere. Then out of the blue, a job offer was made last week, and boom, she was lifted out of the gloom. Of all the people in our group, she should have been snapped up straight away.
In a way, this has given me even less hope than before. My energy is sapped. I am currently working in a zero hours job which provides little stability and a toxic work environment. I have to get out as soon as possible - but to go where? Being the beginning of the year, the adverts are starting to trickle in but there isn’t a great deal going on out there in the world of graphics for a junior designer without any web experience.
My background is in kitchen design and I’ve turned my attention back to this. I very much enjoyed working as a kitchen designer; looking at providing people with their dream kitchen they’d waited so long for. I loved talking materials, possibilities, design ideas and finishes. I had always felt returning to kitchens was a step back because I’d left kitchen sales to begin my degree in 2014 and here I am, considering returning to it.
So I’ve applied to a few. What’s the worse that can happen? I don’t get a response and stay where I am for a while longer. But the best thing that could happen is I get an interview, then a job, with stable working hours, consistent pay and a professional approach.
Just keep swimming.