So, yesterday I had an opinion piece I wrote published both in print and online at the Sydney Morning Herald. You can find it here.

I was not expecting the overwhelming response of love, support and offers of work that came flooding in through comments, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Having been unemployed for so long, I was beginning to become frustrated by everything around me and figured if writing as a career wasn’t going to work out for me, I might as well go out with a bang.

This piece was my big bang. I wrote it out of frustration. How could someone like me and so many others I know be so hopeless in the job market? We have degrees, experience, actual former jobs on our resumes! We have glowing recommendations and great personalities to boot.

What I expected was that this piece would be my Titanic: bold, extravagant, insightful and beautiful, but it would sink any chances of me having a writer. Lucky for me, I love nannying and my back up career of childcare is always going to be there. It’s been a great part time gig but when you want something in your heart of hearts, you keep pushing, hoping to catch your big break right at the final second. I figured I had to give this writing thing one more, proper, serious gung ho shot – because I didn’t want to get to 80 and regret not trying my hardest to get what I want. That’s why I haven’t caved JUST yet. (but that doesn’t mean I’ve closed off doors to other options, I have explored MANY alternative options to see what might happen – including jobs in my next favourite thing: childcare.)

I didn’t expect yesterday’s opinion piece of mine to be such a catalyst for change in my life. However, I am thrilled to say I’ve had several job offers and I’m exploring each one enthusiastically, hoping that one of them is a perfect fit (for both them and me).

But this blog post isn’t about me and all my overnight (although, likely short-lived) success and mini celebrity. This is about everyone else like me out there, the hundreds of thousands of other Georgia’s out there, struggling, looking for their big (or little) break. We’re not looking for 100k executive jobs. What we’re looking for is that first rung or two on the ladder, the jobs that might LEAD to those mythical, top of the food chain jobs. A job that might even make us happy.

I was told not to read the hundreds of comments at the bottom of my article yesterday, but being the nosy parker I am, I couldn’t help myself. One in particular resonated with me and that is why I wrote this post. I am going to share that comment with you now.

“The lack of entry level jobs is a national crisis for Australia.
Today it affects young people out of schools and university, who don’t have the same range of opportunities to learn how to work in an organisation.
In five years, it will be a permanent underclass of people in their late twenties, who are disillusioned, depressed and unable to qualify for jobs appropriate for their age due to not having had stable employment.
In twenty years, Australia will face a shortage of qualified people ten times worse than we already have today. Permanently unemployable people will drain our resources and a lack of experienced managers will severely affect our businesses and public services.
It all starts with a lack of training and support for new job market entrants, but it ends wit the end of Australia’s status a a mature, developed economy.
There seems to be no urgency in how Australian governments are treating this issue, possibly because there are few political kudos for avoiding a problem, only for being seen to engage with one. However, there should be.
The lack of a sufficiently sized, appropriately skilled, trained and experienced workforce is one of the biggest risks facing Australia’s sustainability as a first world nation.
There are 100,000 Georgia’s out there – they are our future success, or failure.”
– Craig (surname unknown)

Craig is right, and this was much of the underlying notion of why I wrote what I wrote. I didn’t just write this for me, I wrote this for every single one of my friends who feels like I do, for every other twenty-something out there who feels the way my friends and I do. I want employers to look at our resumes properly, to say ‘Hey, let’s give this kid a chance, they might surprise us.’

I have a confession to make. The piece I wrote for the SMH was several weeks old by the time it went to print. It went through several rewrites (the initial draft was 1500 words long), passed through my lawyer dad for a legal check (he tried to talk me out of submitting it, he’s eating his words now) and then was submitted to ANOTHER news outlet that didn’t respond within 10 working days – so I sent it to the SMH. In that time, I had an interview for a job (that I’m still waiting to hear back from). The job wanted an experienced sub-editor, which I am not. But I have been a sub-editor, I love sub-editing and I loved the topic of the magazine, so I wrote a really passionate cover letter which landed me an interview.

The editor, who interviewed me, told me that she was also interviewing people who had five to ten years experience in the job advertised, but she took a chance on interviewing me, because she had thought she might train someone of my level into the role.

I hope I hear back from that editor soon (whom I won’t name), as it’s still very much a job I’m keen on. But even if I don’t get that job, I just wanted to say thanks for taking a chance and inviting me in and giving me a shot (even though I was a nervous wreck and stumbled a lot). I hope you’re not the only employer out there like that. I hope that my article changes the minds of other employers, who might not have considered the potential in a graduate.

Sure, I’ve been offered several opportunities as a result of this article. But based on the number of wonderful comments and emails I got, I’m not the only twenty-something struggling. (Remember, 17.7% of twentysomethings are just like me!) Next time one of our resumes crosses your desk, give us a go – we might surprise you.

A few cheesy thanks:

To my friend and editor, Matt, who reads everything I send him and is my most vocal supporter. Thanks for always having my back, buying me ice cream and publishing my work when you can.

To my mum and dad, who are my biggest fans and have backed me 100% with every crazy, insane, controversial decision I’ve ever made. I know sometimes I make you cringe and yesterday was no exception. I know sometimes it frustrates you that I take the less conventional route, but it always works out ok in the end.

To my little sister, Chloe, who sends me photos of my cats (who live 3000km way, with her), when I’m feeling down. These always cheer me up.

To my aunty Kerry, who I’m pretty convinced is my real mother. You taught me that I can be anything I want to be. Thank you for being my feminist mentor, without you, I wouldn’t have feminism and I wouldn’t be who I am today.

To the rest of my extended family, you guys are insane, but I’m so glad we’re such a tight-knit bunch.

To my friends, for always encouraging me, for reading my articles, for taking me out dancing and buying me a drink because I’m broke, for not forgetting me just because I’m broke, for letting me cry to you when yet another rejection email crushes my hopes and dreams and for not judging me when I eat an entire family-size block of KitKat in one sitting.

To everyone who reached out to me with words of support, who rushed to my defense over negative comments and who shared their similar experiences, you’re awesome and I hope everything works out for you too!

Lastly, to Kathryn and the team at SMH, thanks for taking a chance on me and my little rant, I hope you’ll consider future submissions from me. I’m no one-trick pony!

– Georgia Leaker

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