Archive for the ‘Get cash’ Category

#18 Know your PS1 from your VL2

In Get cash, Tales on December 15, 2009 at 12:28 am

First up, a big shout out the Berlin eBay massive who I hear are loosing their jobs following the company’s decision to relocate its services elsewhere in Europe. Genuinely sorry to hear that.

Thanks to the German love of bureaucracy, they won’t actually be kicked out until some point in the middle of the year, once everything has gone through their Works Council, and several other bodies. On the one hand that’s six months to line up some schemes and realise your dreams (open a shop? foreign travel? write more?); on the other it’s six months to get bored out of your mind going through the motions of a job you already know is doomed. Expect mass sickies.

Personally, I’m coming to the end of my six-week sojourn into the world of work, where I’ve been filling out purchase orders, ordering stationery, scanning in funding proposals, and trying to work out the difference between a PS1 form and a VL 2, who should get which colour duplicate, and whether or not I can bring myself to care. I’m leaving just as I finally get access to the Z: drive, and find somewhere interesting to get lunch (an intriguing little Japanese convenience store called Natural Natural, just off Finchley Road). Only last Thursday I discovered the basement and another staircase; on Friday I realised there was a whole other building.

Don’t misunderstand – I’m incredibly grateful for the work. Somewhere warm to go during the day, and some cash for Christmas presents. Though I’ve spent most of my time on my own in a cupboard sending emails, I’ve learnt how to spell Grotowski, to pronounce HEFCE as heff-key, and to use a sentence like, ‘I’m not sure the VP’s research outputs are REF-able; let’s see if we can get any funding through SCUDD.’ I’ve been shocked by the students – not because they look so young or so self-absorbed, but because they have more expensive clothes than I do. And it’s been eye-opening to see how much more money there is sloshing around higher education that around publishing.

But most importantly I’ve learned that I love my job. Not the cupboard-based one, but the one I took for granted for two decades. I really wish my vocation was high finance, law, plumbing, search engine optimisation, or celebrity ass-kissing… anything with a decent wage. But it isn’t. The further removed I get from work, the more I realise it wasn’t really work in the first place, but getting paid for your passion. Which, let’s face it, was quite jammy really.

I recently heard of an editor of a weekly magazine (known to be pulling a six-figure salary) who has gone on holiday while his/her Christmas issue goes to press. Traditionally this is the toughest issue of the year, but also the most fun to produce. How sad to be in such a privileged position and yet appear to derive no pleasure from it.

#11 Get a job (any job)

In Get cash, Jobseeking on November 16, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Ok, so the whole point of this blog is that getting a job (any job) is not so easy right now. But a friend has been kind enough to offer me a few weeks of part-time admin work in his office and with the wolf:door relative proximity getting narrower every day, it seemed like a good idea.

Although it isn’t the work in which I spent the past two decades building up expertise, it is straightforward to get to on public transport, offers a creative environment, comes with flexible hours, and pays the same as devising and editing a major book title for Time Out. It will cover Christmas presents.

I know plenty of people who, when times have been hard, have swallowed their pride and their CVs and taken on jobs such as: columnist for a self-build magazine; ‘blobbing’ (pinpointing exactly venues on a map) for Time Out; acting in a daytime TV soap; part-time childminding. Personally I was considering applying for  the job advertised in the butcher’s (an organic fair trade butcher’s, mind).

It’s been a while since I was last a commuter and now I can’t remember what to do. I’ve no idea what to wear in an office setting. I haven’t bought clothes since Easter (excluding a pair of jeans and an impulse-buy pink beret). There’s a threadbare Cacharel skirt at the back of the wardrobe, bought in Paris when the Euro was low and I had places to be. Tights feel funny and shoes (ie not Converse) look weird. I use the iron on my own clothes for the first time in months and send my children out in crumpled polo shirts. I invest 90p short of £100 in a Travelcard, make some complex childcare arrangements,  push my son through the school gates, and run.

As it turns out that very little has changed.

* the 9.15 train still comes at 20 past

* in spit of the demise of both the London Paper and London Lite, carriages are still littered with free papers full of stories about people I’ve neither heard of nor care about

* people still have far too many meetings

* however central your office, your colleagues will claim ‘there’s nowhere round here’ when you ask where to go at lunchtime

* sandwiches still don’t react well to being chilled

* offices are still freezing at the beginning of the week, and tropical by the end

* your office computer will still be slower than your home one

* I’m still fit enough to run up the slope to catch the train

It doesn’t take long before I’ve reverted to my old ways, calculated where the doors open on the Tube platform, lost track of my children’s whereabouts, and eaten a ready meal. However I’m frugally avoiding breakfast stalls, and am bringing in packed lunches.

By the end of the week I’m congratulating myself on being able to interchange between train and Tube without breaking step, when I find my path blocked by an artisanal bread stall, shattering my routine (I’ve never been able to pass a crusty bloomer without at least pausing to show my appreciation). Nearby is a stall selling real coffee. I cave in and buy my first latte in months. And it’s fantastic.

There’s a law  – you probably know the name, I don’t – which determines that if someone has money, that money generates more, but if someone’s skint they’ll slide into further poverty. So it seems with jobs. Though the phone hasn’t rung since Easter, in the past week I’ve had  emails from three separate contacts asking me if I want to meet to talk about potential projects, and one bona fide commission paying hard cash. Whether anything will come of these ‘talks’ is almost immaterial; the silence has been broken and things are looking up.

[If you can beat blobbing for Time Out as a desperation job, do let us know. And student jobs don’t count. Only ‘proper’ jobs.]