You need experience to get a job, and a job to get experience

You need experience to get a job, and a job to get experience
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What best describes you?

I don’t want this to sound like another Gen Y graduate complaining that they can’t find a job, but I can’t help it, because being unemployed is driving me insane!

Sure I could blame it on the current economic situation and lack of jobs but that is not the real problem. I love writing and believe that copywriting is my calling, but what really strikes me as odd is that in such a creative field as advertising, employers are focusing on the facts and numbers; they’re asking where you have worked and how many years you have been there. They are unfortunately looking at who could benefit us now instead of who could benefit us greater in the future. They aren’t seeing the potential of a blank canvas to become a masterpiece, but instead are focusing on who made the canvas, where did it come from, and what material it is made out of.

For over 14 months I have struggled to enter an industry that I want to be a part of, to get a job that I’m so passionate about. From sending countless emails, going to employment services meetings, bugging recruiters, editing my CV on a weekly basis, walking around the CBD in the pouring rain trying to find the Ad agencies on my list, refreshing Seek on my browser at least three times a day, and having to pick out a different outfit for every interview I go on, only to be told the same thing: ‘you are talented and you might have potential, but you don’t have as much experience as the next guy’.

So it’s back to the age-old employment conundrum: I can’t get experience because I don’t have a job, but I can’t get a job because I don’t have experience. I’m sure some of the advertising gurus have already solved this riddle. Just get out there and do some work experience; who wouldn’t want some work done for free?

Been there, tried that.

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I did some work experience at a small ad agency that didn’t really lead to anything except the realisation that time is money and nobody has the time to babysit a junior and show them the ropes anymore. One employer had even asked for an $8000 training fee to compensate for their loss of time to train the undergraduate. I’m sorry potential employer but no fresh-out-of-uni-20-something-year-old has that amount of money just lying around, considering the amount of money we have paid to get a college degree and the lifestyles we try to live.

Does enthusiasm mean nothing these days? Enthusiasm is in a sense more important than experience in the employment market, yet employers fail to see this. Why employ someone who has been around the block twice and knows every twist and turn, nook and cranny and is blinded by their past experience, over the person who sees things in a whole new light, finds a shortcut where there was none before, and is willing to run a mile just for someone to give them a chance. Nothing short of begging, I would ask potential employers if I could just come in and make coffees (talk about cliché) or do anything really to get a foot in the door, but that door is triple locked with a fingerprint scanner and an 8 digit password which is almost impossible to crack. And I had no experience as a barista either.

Looking to get into the industry? See B&T's feature The Graduate's Guide to the Galaxy here for some useful tips.

But it seems I’m not the only one going through this torturous pre-career period. After reading the Graduate Careers Australia’s (GCA) 2011 Australian Graduate Survey where they had surveyed 168,000 Australian resident bachelor degree graduates I discovered that I am part of the 23.7% of graduates that didn’t have a full time job within four months of graduating. And then again the 8.7% that didn’t have any job by the following year. Around one fifth of respondents were undertaking further full time study.

So after my latest job rejection in which I was told that ‘everybody in the office liked me and my writing was high quality but the other person has a bit more experience than you do’, I resigned to thinking that maybe this isn’t what I’m meant to be doing. I thought about other careers I could see myself in, but realised in the end I’m a wordsmith at heart and writing is ultimately my passion.

And then I read about some other people who didn’t give up. Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination and had no original ideas. Oprah Winfrey was told she wasn’t fit for television. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. The Beatles were told they had no future in show business. And Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was almost 4 years old and was told he would never amount to much. This made me feel a little better.

So for all the struggling college graduates who just can’t seem to get a break: persevere, don’t give up, keep trying to make something happen, don’t be defined by your past and what you’ve done, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, because you are. And for my future employer, I know you’re out there somewhere hopefully reading this, all I can say is: I’m ready.

Michael Tabet is a graduate currently seeking employment.

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