Tag Archives: job

Reasons To Be Cheerful #68: Being a Mature Student

21 Jul

the young ones

Many people would likely balk at the suggestion of going back to uni five years after graduating. You can’t really do halls when you’re 27 and nights like ‘Fun Factory’ and ‘Rubber Duck’ just don’t seem to have the shiny allure that they once did. However when you find yourself stuck in a career rut, there’s no solution quite like getting into a few grand’s worth of debt. But there are a few other reasons to be cheerful about getting back in the student game. Here they are.

1. The Bargains

Everyone knows you can get away with having a railcard just past the 26 cut-off, but when you’re a mature student you get one for a whole extra year. And it only costs the same as it would anyone. And there’s the student discount: Topshop, asos etc. Only thing is, I generally forget to use the card. Sometimes I actively avoid using it for 2 reasons: 1. the horrendous photo and 2. more to my shame, I’m a bit embarrassed to be a student.

2. The Free Time

I remember when I first got my undergraduate timetable. 12 hours a week. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Course, a few weeks in it was all par for the course and the occasional times when you had to be in for 9 were seen as some kind of inhumane penalty. In the first few months of my masters, I became reaccquainted with daytime TV. It was definitely meant to be a one-hour lunch break, but sometimes those rolling episodes of Come Dine With Me are just too hard to turn off. Unfortunately things have taken a turn for the busy. Come Dine With Me days have been regretfully replaced with weekend library sessions. It shouldn’t be allowed.

Channel 4 cares… about ME!

3. Looking Down on The Undergrads

Studenthood is a funny thing. When you’re in it, it’s the best thing ever, but step outside of it and all students are pretty much scum. Naturally this doesn’t include postgrads like myself. We operate on a higher echelon. Now that I’m once more in amongst the fold I can look at the undergrads like David Attenborough watching wildebeest, only with less awe. During undergrad term time I make a fuss about the noise and chaos in the library full of students having way more fun than me and comfort myself with the knowledge that I have real world experience. REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE. Who needs pound a pint night anyway? I drink craft beer…

4. The Brain Food

One of my bosses once sympathised with me that I probably felt like my brain was melting. He was right. Doing the same thing day in, day out, does seem to drain you of all intellectual resources. I got to the point where I – once a champion speller (in year 6 tests) – was no longer confident spelling out simple words like ‘spoon’. OK, I may be exaggerating, but you catch my drift. Opening up my brain to studying has been a welcome reminder that I can think beyond a target and even write about stuff that doesn’t involve celebrities or cats. Think I’ll be off to MENSA soon. Cheerio.


(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Lectures starting at 9. Bleurgh)


Reasons To Be Cheerful #52: The Week Before Payday

26 Sep


Living paycheck to paycheck is often denigrated as a mean existence. But come on, without going into the whole ‘starving children in Africa’ thing, we don’t know how good we’ve got it. Can millionaires take the week before their paycheck to become reacquainted with their basic cooking skills? Hardly. And I bet their lunches are way more calorific than the Marks & Spencer soup (£2.09 for two portions) that has been my bargain bin meal. So let’s all hail the week before payday as something not so different from lent. Here are my reasons why:

1. You Can Test Out Your Cooking Skills

With a meagre amount of money in the bank and an even more meagre amount of food in the fridge, the week before payday is not the time for Tesco’s finest salmon fillets with a fancy salad featuring feta cheese. No, no, this is the time of making your money stretch. And if you don’t want to go down the pasta pesto route, you need to get inventive. This isn’t a Jamie Oliver blog, so I shan’t be handing out recipe ideas, but just as an fyi: I’ve been eating chilli all week and it’s been damn good.

You don't get this chub budget cooking

You don’t get this chubby budget cooking, Jamie

2. Involuntary Detoxing

£10 til payday doesn’t really cover a couple of nights in the pub, so unless you’re desperate enough to drink the dregs of that miniature whisky bottle bought at 3am on Sunday morning, it looks like you’re going booze-free for the week. This might not seem ideal at first, when friends ask you out for a drink or you walk past the city suits living it up in All Bar One (actually, hang on..); but just think of your liver. It’s a fairly important organ and one day all these monthly skint weeks could really pay off.

No thanks, I choose my liver (til the last Friday of the month)

No thanks, I choose my liver (til the last Friday of the month anyway)

3. Getting Stuff Done

It can be hard to fill in that tax form, call the bank, apply for that job, study for that online course ETC when your social schedule dictates that you have to go out and spend money.  So when the social calendar is temporarily emptied due to ongoing fiscal concerns, that’s the time to take action on your tick list. It is emphatically NOT the time to revisit the first series of Game of Thrones.

Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs...

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs…




4. A Tenner Becomes Like Gold Dust

During payday weekend you could be forgiven for treating a ten pound note about as preciously as you would a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet. You might not even recall what you spent it on (giant jars of pickles, aloe vera juice and Arabic peanut butter from the local corner shop), after all what’s a tenner when you’re ‘rich’? Skip forward three weeks and it’s a slightly different story. You may be considering selling your back-up phone for £20; you might even be collecting coppers from various surfaces around your house to put towards a roll of bread to dip in your M&S soup. But find a tenner in a back pocket and you’ll feel like Charlie Bucket.

That's at least two pints!

That’s at least two pints!

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Doesn’t look like the millions are rolling in anytime soon)



Reasons To Be Cheerful #49: Jobs I Didn’t Get

3 Sep

Avid readers of this blog will know a little something of my career woes, which have previously been compared to waterboarding. Well this week, after another patronising and meaningless addition to the inbox folder marked ‘career’ I got to thinking about the narrow escapes I have made during my relatively short working life. The ones that got away, if you will. Here’s a choice selection.

1. The Racist One

I’m naturally wary about using this volatile term as noone wants to be a parody of Ali G, but at least three white people I know thought this particular incident was racist, so I’m gonna go ahead and type it. After being successful in the first phase of an application (you know, the bit which normally leads to an actual real life interview) with a fitness fashion company, I was required to do no less than three writing tasks. One of these was to be in the style of ‘our founder, Tara*’ (*not her real name). Tara Double-Barrel it turned out, was looked up to as some kind of deity in the fashion of dear leader Kim Jong Il (RIP). I’m unsure why, as what I read of hers was tantamount to Sloane piss shaped into legible letters, but there you go. Anyway, after at least four hours spent on said tasks, I was rewarded with the following response:

“We enjoyed reading your task, unfortunately however you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. We are looking for something incredibly specific, a tone of voice that is ultimately of our founder, Tara*, and brings out her British personality.”

Even discounting the general grammatical errors in this response, I had to say that I was flummoxed. If Tara was the benchmark of the ‘British personality’ then I  had clearly been living in some kind of dreamworld for the past 26 years. I suppose I just don’t ‘get’ the ‘British personality’. More fool me eh.

Our founder, Tara

‘Our founder, Tara’

2. The Green One

After my obligatory post-uni travels I returned home jobless, penniless and on the hunt for an internship. After a few months I did the whole ‘bus thing’ and a few offers came along at once. One of these offers was from a small environmental publishing company. I’d got through the interview by falsifying green credentials and talking about how much I loved the Guardian (actually true). In the end, I had to renege on my acceptance of this three-month part-time unpaid (that’s THREE negatives) position as I had been offered a full-time paid position. The bosses were less than happy and I got a stroppy email. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was a lucky escape from three months of contrived do-gooding.

Missed opportunities?

Missed opportunities?

3. The Token One

One of the other ‘buses’ that came along around the time of the green publishing company, was a communications internship with the Portishead police force. Despite being nearly half an hour late for the interview, I seemed to be something of a hit with the detective superintendent that interviewed me. He made constant references to Raj, his previous intern and also let me know that he had a very clever daughter-in-law – black – who was a lawyer. He seemed a nice sort, but I think he saw me as the new Raj. Tokenism isn’t generally for me, but when push came to shove I had to turn it down because nice detective wasn’t entirely sure if the whole scheme might not get pulled. Cheers.

I, Token

I, Token

4. The Soul Destroying One

Strictly speaking, this one is a job I didn’t keep. In a standard post-uni left turn, I somehow landed myself a sales job the first summer after graduating. This was all out, balls deep, bell-ringing, lunchtime coke-snorting, tacky-suited, sweaty, hideous sales. It was not for me. But somehow, during a recruitment process that was actually described to me as being ‘like The Apprentice’, I was flattered and fooled into believing that I could be one of those people. A sales person. Eurgh. The office’s central walkway was proudly called ‘pitching alley’, I was selling a ‘summit’ that cost around £20,000 and specialising in ‘Business Intelligence’. To this day, I do not know what that term means and I’m even less sure of what justified the use of the term ‘summit’ over conference. What’s more, I was encouraged to lie to scary, snooty PAs in order to get through to their bosses: the much vaunted ‘C level execs’. Never take no for an answer, never put down the phone. It was horrendous. I lasted five weeks and noone was surprised to see me go. A particular low point was one of the bosses telling a racist joke when he took my team out for lunch. There was also the time that he strode towards me, saying loudly ‘Lucie, you’re doing GREAT and I KNOW that you’re going to make a sale this week’. He had clearly learnt my name just to deliver this confidence-building line. Shame he couldn’t see me at lunch the next day.

Since when is this a positive prospect?

Since when is this a positive prospect?

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: If I wasn’t so precious about my soul I’d surely be a lot richer)