Graduating this year was really hard. The real post-education world seemed cold, harsh and disparate through Covid-tinted glasses. I had a plan. I had spent the last year refining and perfecting an impressive portfolio. I networked, emailed, and applied for internships as if my life depended on it. Saying no to parties and social events since January, determined to get a First.
Which I did.
But if I could go back 10 months and say to myself “You know, no one actually cares what qualifications you’ve got. And you’re going to spend up to 6-month apart from your friends so go on, say yes to a messy night out.”
Being a creative graduate is tricky even without a pandemic: competitive, cliquey and sexist. Being a woman with very few contacts, I am already at a disadvantage. So with the pandemic tearing through the UK and thousands of creatives being made redundant, I looked up to the beautiful mountain that I couldn’t wait to climb and watched as an avalanche crashed down, taking out everything in its path, including nearly every job role I had anticipated applying for.
I had been speaking to a friend who is also a musician about post-university plans. Her goal was to get a job in a cute independent café and maybe release some music and gig when she could.
I was planning on getting a normal job (restaurant, retail, maybe marketing or something creative if I was lucky), continue to build my portfolio by working FOR FREE for other musicians to help them create content. I’m happy to risk sounding like a brag to say that I have an enormous range of skills and I am extremely driven and career-minded. In the meantime, I would apply for internships and other entry-level positions in the music industry, pray for an interview and try to stay creative in my spare time. I have to say, I wasn’t ready for the amount of rejection I would get. I was confident, cocky even, that I would at least get one interview in 6 months after graduating. Nope. Nothing, even if I got a response, it was to say that the sheer amount of applicants meant I was unlucky.
And I’m not just talking about musical jobs. I’m talking about ANY job. Waitressing, bar jobs, retail, supermarkets, receptionist jobs, personal assistant roles, care assistant roles, you name it, I had applied for it. Nothing.
So, to hear that our government is encouraging SPECIFICALLY creative people to look at retraining. What exactly is it that you’d like us to re-train as? Because I bet nearly 99% of creatives already have that skill.
The employment landscape right now is so fucking bleak that I can’t even get a job as a waitress, let alone as a Creative Director. How do you want us to move forward? What you are asking just shows a complete lack of awareness for how anyone but the upper-middle-class conservative population live. We all just want normal jobs.
WE all just want to pay our rent and maybe afford to order a takeaway on a Friday. We are not asking for fame and success.
Rishi, darling, you have no idea what you’re talking about. You have no clue how diverse and multi-skilled creatives are. You leave no space in the conversation for us by belittling us and making us feel like layabouts. If anything, you are generating more hate and more opportunity for rebellion. You can only treat us like children for so long.
Words: Lilly Shickle
Editor & Photographer: Amira Umar