Friday, June 18, 2010

I Know its Over

I had an interview on Thursday at Surrey County Council. It was for an "apprenticeship in business and administration." I just want a job, so I applied. I was freaking out over what to wear cos the position was officey. My outfit was a mismatch of colours as I put together the smartest jacket, dress and shoes I owned.

The interview was the longest I've ever had. The first stage involved me arranging a list of about eight tasks into an order of priority. I had 15 whole minutes to explain why finding a flip chart for my line manager who has a meeting in 5 minutes was more urgent than filling the photocopier with paper. I was also encouraged to complete a rough draft first. My next bit involved me having to answer the phone when someone rang with a script, to show I could take a message. I got the impression that they were checking that you weren't an idiot.

I was next taken to a woman who was bizarrely called Peter who thought she had met me before. She was just there to fill you in on what an apprenticeship is. It started to seem all so basic. Their approach is to train people up in being able to write a CV, be confident in an interview, and go on towards a career in a county council environment. All I want is to be in bloody employment, none of this tutorial rubbish and hand holding. I started to think that I weren't the target audience for the position. Peter explained that on the job, you would be working towards a NVQ and a key skills qualification to do with your ability to send emails and answer telephones. She pointed out that as I had A levels, I was overqualified, but it made sense if I wanted to add those qualifications to the list.

By the time it came to the official interview I had lost interest, so I was completely relaxed and performed well. Two women interviewed me and gave me a long explanation as to what they do, which I barely listened to. I was asked what my favourite subjects were at school. In retrospect when I thought about this question, it seemed likely that they asked it 'cos they were expecting school leavers who indeed didn't have A levels and in which the NVQ would be a progression, confirming my suspicions that I was not the target audience. I was asked, which I think is now my favourite question of all time, "What experience do you have with email?" They ask the question like one would ask what your experience is with excel, as though there were somehow levels of competency for typing in a box and pressing 'send.' I laughed in disbelief at first, and when their faces didn't break, I answered the question, smiling the whole time at having to make my answer as complicated and impressive as possible.

The gaps in my schooling came up so I had to spill the beans on that whole childhood fiasco. It took them about five minutes to get their heads round it. What was amusing is that their department is education in Surrey, and so I was asked if I received "a lot of help from us." I bluntly told them I hadn't. I mean I was taken out of school for a whole year before they made a decision on alternative education for me. I was an autodidact. They were surprised at my condemnation. I was then asked to explain what I had been doing since November, when I was selling recording experiences. I told them, and the woman who asked wrote in capital letters on my application form "NOTHING." It irked me, but not as much as what happened next. She let out a Father Christmas style laugh, and goes "How on Earth do you support yourself?" I felt like I was under interrogation for being unemployed. Contrary to my alias on here, Dolegirl, I'm not actually on the dole. That's why I'm stuck in on a Friday evening writing letters to the internet. In spite of that though, that woman must've heard of jobseekers allowance. How does she expect me to support myself? It still winds me up now. If you can't get a job, you can't get a job.

I'm not sure if the working prospects have ever been like this for a generation before. I left there completely deflated, and I feel myself drowning in the ennui around me and choking on the evidence that there isn't an escape route. I apply for shop work, bars and so on, and they don't get back to you, I apply for this and I'm overqualified and probably over grown, but you can't set your sights higher without being told that you have to have a degree, then the rest will let you have a stab without one, but you have to do it for free and spend a good hundred or so pounds on traveling to London every day. Employers are taking advantage of the shortage of jobs and young people's plight by making them work full time for free for a few months, and warning you that its an invaluable opportunity because no one will pay you until you've got some experience. I think that still wouldn't be enough. You could probably make a habit of going from one unpaid vacancy to another, 'cos that is all there is. No one wants to hire anybody.

I love England, but I don't think there's anything here for us now. The older people seem alright. They're all being kept in made up jobs just to ensure people are in work. At that interview, one of the women said that there were a thousand people in the department for Surrey. What are they all doing?

I don't know what to do next. I'm on the scrapheap. I left college a year ago and I haven't managed to secure one paid position. I consider things such as becoming self employed, but you can't do that without having money to get going. Even a hundred or two. My bank card is obsolete. I haven't used a cash machine once this year. I don't know when I will again.


  1. Meow meow meow mew meow mew meow meow meow meow meeeeeeeeoow!!


  2. Oh nyo! Don't worry though. I'm sure theres a jobbie just waiting round the corner for you.
    Hang in there! :)