Work Experience

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote a blog. Trust me, I do. For more than a week I’ve been sitting down, saying “I will write a blog tonight”, and utterly failing to do so. I don’t think I realised that when I came home after writing all day, I wouldn’t feel like writing anything else. I’m a bit knackered, I have no routine yet, life is up in the air and it’s getting in the way of all the stuff I did before.

That’s probably a good thing.

I needed the shake-up. For all I complained about the dullness of my job in the NHS I had a nice, simple job with decent hours and little in the way of intellectual rigour, and I’d barely applied for any jobs since I started. As it turned out, it takes so long these days to run any sort of recruitment process that my desperate, obsessive approach to job-hunting beforehand was still paying off. This job was one of the last that I’d applied for; if I hadn’t got it, I would have been working in the same place without any more prospects on the horizon, and the rut would have been mine to get stuck in.

Thankfully that was avoided. I can’t say I shed a tear over leaving. I shook some hands, I was wished good luck, and I even took boxes of sweets for my floor – which was wonderful, until the other girl who was leaving brought in two dozen Krispy Kremes. Even I liked her more than me.

I didn’t really know how I felt that Friday. I was too nervous about the following Monday, when I would rock up at a strange building, overdressed and surprisingly awkward. New people I can cope with. New people who I have to sit with and talk to five days a week even if they don’t like me? That’s a bigger concern.

And then, of course, there was the small matter of whether I’d be any good at the job.

This post is the easiest thing I’ve written in the past two weeks. On my blog I can just type whatever’s in my head; because it comes from me, it comes naturally. Content marketing doesn’t work like that. Content writers (that’s my job title) are stylistic chameleons – every article I write takes the tone of voice appropriate to whoever’s website it’s going on.

Of course, they’re all articles I’d never read on websites I’ve never seen, so I’m automatically at a disadvantage. On the plus side, this does mean I’m working on the brand new talent of feigning interest in the oil market and digital signage.

Henry Fielding I can pretend to like. But imagine finding two newsworthy stories a day in the world of digital signage.

In no way is this intended to sound like I don’t like my job. Obviously I haven’t settled in yet, but the people seem nice and I haven’t yet cried over the 8am start time – though I firmly believe that leaving home at 6.35am should be banned. Above all I get to write, I like writing. But once I’m properly up to speed, I’ll be churning out thousands of words a day at relentless pace and none of them will sound like me, so this one outlet where it matters what I think will probably become more important. Well, for me at least. You’ll just have to tolerate it.

I’m very lucky. There are thousands of arts graduates out there who either can’t find a job or have ones with nothing at all to do with their subjects, but in my case it’s reassuring to know that my degree was halfway useful. Without it, I wouldn’t have been invited to the test/tests/interview that actually got me the job. It’s also quite possible that the MA in Literature Nobody Reads made my CV look interesting enough for a proper read. But once I’d got to that point, it no longer seemed to matter: I mentioned essays in answer to a question, but as a passing comment in 35 minutes of talking about blogs, articles, and editing websites.

Increasingly in the arts, it feels as though degrees are opportunities to do loads of non-degree work in the knowledge that the latter will get you a job. The jury’s out on whether that justifies £35,000 debt: you may as well pay someone an ‘internship loan’, and there are more than a few students and graduates who would have taken that option.

I wouldn’t change those four years in Durham for anything. Graduation reminded me of that, when the English MAs repopulated the pub we used to frequent. With no more deadlines and no seminars, I sat with some of my favourite people in my favourite city and knew university was more than my degree. I’m getting that impression from the rest of the world, too.


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