I had an experience last week that involved highs, lows and lots of travelling in between. All in pursuit of that crucial ingredient that myself and, many like me, want and need to survive; a job.
Now just a quick note, I know I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time blogging about my search for work, because to be honest, I don't have a lot more else to do. Also it seems to be quite the topic of discussion recently.
Anyway I was doing my usual boring day, this day was a Thursday, and I was throwing CV's and cover letters around like they were riddled with disease, taking care with each one, but also applying for so many that I forgot what I was applying for.
Anyway Friday rolled around and I was met by an email saying they were very impressed by customer service background and they wanted me to go in for an interview on the Monday, in Cardiff!
Now for those of you that don't know, Teesside and Cardiff are quite a considerable distance apart, 8 hours by bus it seems.
So I rang up, acted as charming and friendly as I could be, and, after further questioning most of which I winged on the spot, I booked a slot with this particular sales and marketing company (which won't be named because I can't afford to be sued) at 4pm.
This left a mad panic trying to sort out the logistics of it all. Where would I stay? How could I get down there? Could I afford it? The answer to question 3 was just if I could stay for free. Megabus provided a nice direct but for £30 each way so that took care of itself. Just the accommodation that was worrying me.
I had tried a friend (who wont be named) who lives there. No response. I looked at all your favourite chains of cheap hotels, and the stay would could cost me upwards of £100+. So a last ditch text on the Saturday night to a very good friend, Emily (who does get to be named because she is lovely and helped me out massively), who lives in Bristol but I knew she visited Cardiff a lot, maybe she knew somewhere cheap? She went one better. She got somewhere for free.
She gave me a call, which is always a treat in itself, and explained she had got in touch with her mate Dan and he would let me crash for free. Which I thought might be awkward, but I didn't really have many other options.
The bus ride was long and tedious, I was only about 4 weeks removed from making a similar 8 hour trip from Pittsburgh from New York, now I realise Middlesbrough to Cardiff sounds a tad less glamorous.
I got off and set my pub dial to ultra sensitive and easily sniffed out a decent looking one about 5 minutes away from the bus stop. I made the call and met Dan. Turns out he was a legend! So much so we ended up going out and gate crashing Carnage. Probably not the best thing to be doing before an interview, but it wasn't until 4pm and the night just went that way, what can I say, I was making friends!
Anyway, to get back to my point, the big day came, I found the office, I got in there and filled out a form. Which leads me to the worrying amount of information that these companies want before hiring you. I practically signed my life away on that form and I hadn't even spoken to anyone. I dread to think how many people have seen my details.
I was then summoned and greeted by the Managing Director no less! I was taken into his office and he explained that he wanted an informal chat. We had a chat and I thought we got on alright. Now I had to chill and wait for a phone call.
So after an hour so, and a couple of cheeky beers, I got the phone call! Come in again tomorrow 12 - 8.30pm. A little long I thought, but sack it they are going to give me a chance. Yeah no bother was my reply.
I turned up on time, filled another form, and waited until I was called in. When I was, after about half hour, I was introduced to an account manager who was going to show me the ropes of the entry level position. The niceitys dealt with and we were off, at quite a pace, into the hustle and bustle of Cardiff city centre. The next thing I know I am on the bus to Ely, a council estate on the outskirts of Cardiff, working for a very big name charity, knocking on doors.
A long story short, we got finished at 9 after selling very few and being chased by dogs and cursed at by a particular scary bloke and went back to the office. I did a test and got a final chat with the boss, at around 10.30pm, in which he extended his hand and offered me a job.
Now as he did this the feeling that struck me was unlike many I have felt in my time. A mixture of vindication, happiness, disappointment and surprise. Now morally, I feel working for a charity should be voluntary, not for commission, and I disagree with the idea of knocking on peoples doors and asking for bank details. Also the idea of trying to afford rent on 100% commission frightens me, and working hours like 9-9 with no guaranteed gain seems a tad ludicrous. Maybe I have too high standards but I like to think that when you work you get paid for your time and then have time to enjoy your wealth and effort, not work all day for next to nothing.
So the answer was I turned it down, I would like to tell you I was courageous and denied his handshake and walked out, but I didn't I shook the hand, got a start day and then after 2 days of a moral dilemma I got in touch to say I wasn't going to take his offer.
So I thought I had done everything right, completed the course, and now I find myself in the same predicament.
It must be a feeling that many people my age will be coming across, whatever you may think about the use of a degree, the use of which I am beginning to question myself, there are some of us who have them and can't seem to get a start, so to be offered something and to turn it down because it simply is way too much of a risk, it is frankly crushing.
Not that the recruitment world is bad. I have had a couple of emails from a Rebecca at networx who seems to be striving to reassure and gain information about my application through them, and that I feel is brilliant. She even sent me a message to say she was still waiting to find out and will let me know as soon as she can. Why can't more people be like this, it takes a matter of seconds to send an email of reassurance and it makes it feel like I am being taken seriously, rather being dumped in the bin, again.
So what did I gain from my Cardiff excursion? A new mate, definately and a shit load of experience I guess. However, I believe it was Geordie actor/popstar/icon Jimmy Nail who said: "Experience, its what you get when you don't get what you want."