What do you do? – A personal journey by George Lee
Finishing your higher education is undoubtedly a significant milestone for anyone. For me, it brought a sensational feeling of freedom.
Today’s challenges for new graduates are well documented. Recent research shows that 47% of them are in job roles that don’t require a degree.* Combine that with the shadow of debt and the world beyond education may seem very intimidating; not to mention careers in the Arts industry being notoriously sparse. So how could a new Arts and Media graduate such as myself possibly find a sense of freedom in all of that?
Throughout my education and everyday life, the same question would always come up, What do you do? On the surface, it seems an innocuous query, but the more I was asked the more I realised its socioeconomic nature, i.e. How financially stable are you? How do I compare to you on the social ladder? But more importantly, was it a problem that I didn’t have an answer?
My careers advice was always lackluster, there was very little at school and even less at college. By the time I had finished university the advice came in the form of a pat on the back and a “good luck”. As a result, I ended my education with no clear idea of what I wanted to do, at least from a careers perspective. There was no next step, no guideline and honestly… that’s what excited me.
I did what I have always wanted to do, travel.
Over the course of five months, I put some miles on the clock, traveling across Iceland, Canada, Japan, Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand. “What do you do?” was replaced with “Where have you been?” and “Where are you going?”. It was the most fulfilling experience of my life and a total refresh for me. It was then that I had the time to really ask myself what I wanted to do and what career path I wanted to set myself.
Upon returning to the UK I decided that Digital Marketing and Social Media were the sectors I wanted to work in. I had the skills needed to jump into a creative role and the desire to be part of a fast-paced, evolving industry. I started my own website and related social channels to get first-hand experience in the work necessary to engage and build a brand. To truly improve my knowledge however, I knew I had to get a job with an established company.
My job search began in August of 2017, and I was confident in finding an entry level role before the New Year. The months went by as if they were days, the job listings thinned out significantly as December approached and the interviews began to wane too. I picked a part-time job to keep me going but it didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. The reason why I wasn’t getting offers was immediately clear, a lack of experience. Of course, I anticipated this and tried my absolute best to compensate with my personable approach to interviews, but it wasn’t enough. In fact, I was turned down for apprenticeships and graduate schemes for the very same reason.
At this point I was on the cusp of becoming demotivated, the freedom of travelling was still very fresh in my mind and it was hard not to return to my career in retail just to be able to do it all over again. My advice at this point would be to stick by your decision and hold out. It may not feel like it but it won’t be long before you get an offer that could change everything.
That’s when Hireserve came along. While they weren’t openly advertising the role I have now, they were open to meeting with me to discuss my career aspirations and how they may line up with the company’s vision and goals. It’s a great example of being rewarded for contacting companies directly. If you’re not having success through the many job boards available, then seek out the companies you want to work for and contact them by email or phone.
I met with Karen, Emma and Hannah to discuss who Hireserve are, what they do and where I might fit in. They explained that being an SME there would be a diverse range of projects to work on and learn from. Not only did the role tick all the boxes for my career aspirations, but the team exceeded my expectations in their attitude towards company culture. A couple of days later and I had an official offer and a positive outlook on starting my journey into the world of Digital Marketing.
The next time someone asks me “What do you do?”, not only do I finally have an answer for them but also a clear idea of what I’ll do next.