Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Journey in finding work in London

I remember when I first arrived in UK. That was 5 years ago. As soon as I saw London I knew this was the place where I wanted to be.

Before coming here I was having a secured job as graphic designer in my own country. I was lucky enough to get this job right after graduation even though I held a diploma in philosophy-sociology. Drawing and designing have always been my main passion. This was something I did in my spare time and that's how I learnt how to use CorelDraw, Photoshop and ProPaint years ago. It helped me build a portfolio which granted me my dream job.

In my nativity I thought with a bit of hard work I would carry on doing the same in London, but the journey proved to be a lot harder than I expected. Being Romanian even though a EU member, our work rights are limited here to aupair, agriculture and constructions. I went for the aupair job and to not lose, but rather improve my design skills, I joined a college the moment I arrived in London.

I was very ambitious at the beginning still thinking that I needed to work hard enough to see my dream come true. With the little I had, I saved to pay the school fees, and I would not go out just to save money. To improve my English I joined the IELTS classes and kept on reading random English books. Every hour of the day was busy. School went on for 2 years. In the mean time I was working part time, taking care of 2 lovely girls and doing cleaning. This schedule was interfering with my school hours and most of the time I would not attend the full classes and miss out lessons. After cleaning, laundry, babysitting etc, at 10 in the evening I would finally go to my room and usually would stay until 2 in the morning to carry on with my personal projects. I had to stay focused on what I wanted to do.

Somebody told me that in UK volunteering is highly regarded and most likely would increase my chances of employment. I did this for a while and I got nothing in return, not even my travel expenses covered. In some cases after delivering the final work I wasn't responded back.

After finishing school I received distinction and merit for the classes I've missed. The exhaustion at that point was taking it's tall. I decided it was time to start enjoy life a bit after saving up and staying locked in a room for days to study. I begun to buy clothes, shoes, and go out. I made new friends and was receiving lots of suggestions about jobs.  I spoke with the family I was working with that I wanted to move out and find a job. I had a month as notice to find something. A month later my mom died. At that point I couldn't care less about my future, my plans about how life would be and all the ambition went down the drain.

I stayed at the same job for one more year. I felt trapped without a goal. No school to attend. I had extra time and no ambition. It felt like I was living for nothing. I was babysitting 3-4 times a week for the last 3 years. Because I was starting to enjoy the social life and I couldn't leave the house I begun to feel very depressed and small. I was missing my mom with whom I would normally chat during rough times to help me get out of this depression. There was no one there and I started to fall deeper and deeper in my sadness. I felt so lost and lonely. Just because it was an automatic thing to do I would design in the evenings or sketch.

Looking back I lost the focus and I realized I had stayed way longer than I should've had. I had to make an assessment of advantages and disadvantages of being there. Deep down I already knew it was time to move on by my courage was gone. I was afraid of the world. Having to work on my birthday until nearly 9 o'clock in the evening helped me take the final decision. It was too late to do anything. I was dating at that time and we spoke about my disappointing birthday. He asked me to move in with him to help me get back on my feet. It was comforting to have someone there willing to help out.

A month later after the notice I packed everything and left. It left me with a sour taste leaving all behind where I stayed for over 3 years. All those memories and seeing the children grow. I got attached to the family and I couldn't hold my tears and started crying. I knew I would always miss them. Because I was living pretty far I went to see them as often as my budget would allow it and text them on special occasions or chat on skype.

After settling in the new home I begun to apply for jobs. I got few work recommendation and I begun to freelance for graphics. I registered as self employed and focused on improving my sketching techniques, learn how to make logos, even learn how to do web design.
With the money gained I bought a new computer to speed up my work. I started going to the interviews which gave me faith, but never offered a job because I didn't had enough experience. 

In the mean time I would focus on my portfolio such vector illustrations or digital painting. This was something I begun to love doing and spent time on following tutorials. 

The time started to pass and my savings to go lower. From graphic designer, I started to apply for junior graphic designer and still told I wasn't having enough experience nor the right skills. Just to get some work experience I applied for volunteer work, internship and trainee. I was told again that I don't have the right experience and I can't do internships since I'm not a student nor a recent graduate.

Made accounts on an awful amount of job sites and sent almost 100 applications per day for months. Went on applying for other jobs such as receptionist, administrator, sales in a store, call center, nanny, trafficking personnel, waitress, intern etc. No luck. I printed CVs to pass them in stores and I got no replies back. Now I'm leaving my business cards in stores just in case there will be someone interested in giving me a hand. 

Most of my Romanian friends that got a job right away without having to send any applications was because they had connections. I don't have such connections and did asked all my friends if they heard anything and if they know if there is something else I could do just to keep me going and help me gain experience. From some I got no reply at all and some advised me to go back to cleaning. 

Two years since I moved in a new home my hopes started to go away as now my partner wants to go back to his country. Feels like I'm about to lose everything. I can't pay my rent for longer than 3 months and I can't find any job without experience because no one is willing to help me make it.  

After 5 years of trying to be a graphic designer in London it looks like the only friend that is willing to help is still the one that has very little. He will send my CV to McDonalds and put a good word for me.

 I'm not sure London is ready for me.

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