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From One Big Smoke to Another

In my last post I talked about quitting my job with no backup, well now I’m happy to announce that I am now officially employed again, woohoo! (The company I’m going to work for is coincidentally named BACKUP, but more about that later).

This new venture will see me move back across the pond. Yep back to the Emerald Isle, a mere 8 months after leaving. It’s all  kind of mad, and I’ll admit I probably do seem like a bit of a Yo-Yo!

I had my reservations at first. I didn’t want to seem like a failure for leaving London. I was worried people may see it as a step backwards.Especially when you come from a small town like I do,  where all people do is talk. You decide to move away and the whole village accuses you of thinking “you’re too good for the place”. But then I decided not to give a fuck what people may or may not think.

It is my life after all, and as cliché as it is, I’ve learned that you have to do what makes YOU happy.

I suppose I wanted to write this blog for two reasons.

  1. To update everyone on what’s been going on in my life (not that many actually care, but nonetheless, here we are 🙂 ).
  2. I want to share my advice and experiences with anyone who may going through a similar situation

So if you’re still interested in my not so fascinating life and words of wisdom, do read on.

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After leaving my last job in January, I spent the best part of 2 months in London  searching for another. I went through approximately 6 interviews and probably twice as many existential crises. I questioned absolutely everything about myself, from my past decisions to my future career ambitions and then some. I wondered would I ever be good enough to land my “dream job?”. The industry I’ve entered into is tough. It’s fiercely competitive and it’s so hard to make yourself stand out. It’s even harder not to feel dejected when you see that 100+ other people have applied for the same position you have. It’s not the same as other professions. The world is constantly crying out for teachers and nurses, but content creators? Not so much.

With each rejection letter I was finding it harder and harder to believe in myself . Sometimes it feels impossible not to take the “best wishes for your future endeavors” as a personal slap in the face. I was feeling so down in myself when I learned I’d been invited to interview for an Editorial Position for Arcadia. Arcadia are a collective group for a number of fashion brands including Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins. The role was for Dorothy Perkins and involved creating content for their blog, working on social channels, assisting with fashion shoots etc. It sounded right up my street and I was so excited!  I had to do a couple of tasks ahead of the interview, which were time consuming, but enjoyable all the same.

The day came, and I felt it went well.  I was told I’d hear back soon. A week passed without news, and so I decided to follow up. HR assured me they were chasing Dorothy Perkins for an update, and would let me know soon. Another week passed and I still hadn’t heard anything. Eventually I got an email to say it was down to me and another candidate, and that they should be making a decision by the end of that week. Great I thought, not long left to wait! That was until another week passed and then another and I STILL hadn’t heard.I had just about given up, when I got a call apologising for the delay and inviting me to a second interview. By this stage a month had passed since the original interview. I had other prospects in the pipeline, but despite the waiting I was still keen. I did the second interview  last wedensday, and was assured that this time I  would definitely  hear by the end of the week.

In the meantime I found out I’d been offered a job back in Dublin. I was genuinely a bit shocked! I was told they were interviewing with six other candidates, so I’d pretty much written myself off. I now found myself faced with a big decision:

Do I uproot myself and move back to Ireland after less than a year in London?

Or do I hang on and wait to see if I got the job in London?

I got a call last Thursday after my second round interview with Arcadia and Dorothy Perkins. My heart was in my mouth thinking finally this is the answer i’ve been waiting for. Alas no, it was just more time wasting. They just called to inform me I was one of 3 finalists and the decision would be made on Friday.

Friday came and I waited all day with my phone glued to my side, willing it to ring. It was 4.30pm when I got yet another  shoddy email from them saying that seeing as the Editor was out of the office, I would now be informed on Monday. I honestly couldn’t fathom the unprofessional-ism. This was the third or fourth time this had happened, and I was quickly losing patience and faith in the company. I couldn’t help but think, if this how they treat people in the hiring process, what on earth would it be like working from them? Unprofessionalism and misscoummincation were two of the factors that contributed to my decision to leave my last job. I wasn’t going down that route again. Trust me, it’s not worth being treated like shit for any job (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt).

Throughout all this the crowd in Dublin were above and beyond supportive. I was told to take my time with my decision and if they could assist me in anyway to give them a shout. The manager even offered to help me make a pro a con list regarding the decision to relocate again. It was so nice to feel valued and appreciated. I think deep down I knew I’d only be staying in London just to stay in London, and that makes no sense. Part of me didn’t want to give up this newfound freedom and cosmopolitan lifestyle I’d become so fond of. It felt a bit like I’d be admitting defeat. Reflecting on all of this now kind of makes me laugh. I mean it’s a bit silly isn’t it?  I’d just been offered a job that genuinely excited me. I should’ve been feeling elated!

When I had a few days to mull it all over I realised how ridiculous I was being. Things happen for a reason. Opportunities don’t often fall on your lap, and when they do you have to grab them with both hands. Even if that means uprooting yourself yet again! So what if I’m leaving London? I’m going back to an even better big smoke. One that 20 year old me fell in love with back  when she got her first taste of a big city and the working world.

As I mentioned above, the company I’ll be working for is called BACKUP, they are a creative marketing and ad agency based in Dun Laoghaire (I’m looking forward to walks on the pier and those sea views!). My job will involve creating all of the internal blogs and social content. I’ll basically be responsible for content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as working on campaigns  for the company’s big brand clients. It’s super exciting and exactly the kind of thing I want to be doing. So I’m excited to move back and get stuck in. I informed Dorothy Perkins that if I didn’t hear from them on Monday I’d be accepting another job offer. Surprise surprise there wasn’t a peep out of them. I didn’t even get the usual fob off to say it would be another day. I guess I should thank them for making my decision easier and showing me all of the qualities you do not want in an employer. I sent them an email on Tuesday asking them to withdraw my application, all the while expressing how unprofessional I found the entire process. I haven’t received a reply. The job has since been re-advertised.

If I’ve learned anything over the past few days it’s that you can’t stay in a place just for the sake of it, or just out of stubbornness. In fact, (as cheesy as it sounds), the past couple of months have taught me a lot about myself and about life. I’ve done things I never thought I’d do. I’ve surprised myself in ways I could never have imagined. I packed up my life and moved across the shores. The job wasn’t what I expected and so I quit. Some might call it recklessness, I call it chasing happiness. I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say with this long rambling blog post, is that you should never settle. Never compromise. Scare yourself, believe in yourself and go after what it is you really want. Whether that sees you in Ireland, London, China, Timbuktu, wherever.  This is the time to be figuring it all out. Job hop, country hop and make sure to learn and laugh along the way.

I know I did! 😉

Until the next rant or ramble,

~J

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Why I quit my job with no back up

I started my 2017 by boarding a plane back to London with no Job. The crazy thing is, I did it by choice.

Shortly before Christmas (most inopportune time, I know) I decided I had had enough and handed in my notice to my most recent employer. I left a full time permanent job with absolutely no back up lined up. Now at this stage you may be thinking that I’m reckless, stupid, irresponsible or all of the above. Believe me I’ve had those thoughts too.

But what do you do when you’re no longer happy?  What do you do on a Sunday night when the thoughts of going into work on a Monday morning are giving you a physical pain in your chest?

I moved to London as a fresh, doe eyed albeit, enthusiastic graduate. I had landed my first ‘adult’ job and I could not wait to start making my mark on the world. However, I quickly realised that the job I had entered into was far from any of the things I wanted. It was monotonous, repetitive, badly managed and lacked so much as a drop of creativity. Not only that, but I wasn’t learning anything. It soon became clear that there was absolutely no room for progression or career development in the role whatsoever. Having spent 4 years in university that’s something I would consider very important to me. I want to learn, I want to grow and I want to progress. I want to be in an environment where hard work is truly recognised, where creative people are encouraged and valued. So I took the plunge.

I scared myself and pulled the security and safety right from under me. I spent 6 months putting all of my energy into something I really didn’t care about. Something I wasn’t passionate about, and something which was giving me nothing but stress and hassle in return. Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’m quite a driven and ambitious person. I am never ‘half arsed’ about anything I do, so I didn’t make this decision lightly. I didn’t wake up one day and decide ‘oh, i’m going to quit my job’. There were a lot of contributing factors, and I spent many hours discussing it with my family and those close to me.

I’m only 23 after all.  This is the time in my life where I’m allowed to be unsure, I’m allowed to make mistakes,  I’m allowed to try new things and I’m allowed to go after what really makes me happy. Yet there are days like today, when I’m pouring over countless job applications and  trying to prove that i’m the ‘perfect candidate’, that I feel a little lost. I find myself questioning my decision, questioning my abilities and questioning what it is I really want from life. Did I make another bad choice by quitting? Could I have stuck it out another 6 months?  I mean probably, but that would have been another 6 months trying to fool myself into thinking my situation was okay. I was afraid of getting stuck and then never having the confidence to (as incredibly cliche as it is),  follow my dreams. A lot have people have told me I’m brave. But I’ve yet to decide whether that’s true, or whether I’m just incredibly stupid 🙂  (Let’s go with the former).

I’m not sure where these next few months in my life are going to take me. But then again 6 months ago I wasn’t sure either. Not knowing is both terrifying an exhilarating.  It’s only been 3 days since I’ve officially been unemployed. In that time I’ve sent approximately 20 job applications, received 5 of those lovely generic ‘unfortunately you have not been selected on this occasion’ rejections,  and binged watched 8 episodes of ‘Jane the Virgin’ (hey a girl’s gotta stay sane!). It’s early days yet. I’ll admit, it is hard not to feel a bit like ‘no one is every going to hire me again!’, but I’m doing my best to remain optimistic. Of course there are moments that I wish I was at home, where I could have access to an abundance of hugs from my boyfriend, dad, sister and nan. I’ll have a little cry, wipe my tears, then sit back in front of the laptop and attempt to tell faceless strangers why I’m great, and why they should hire me.

As coldplay once said, ‘nobody said it was easy’. But I’m very fortunate to have such a loving support system around me. It’s so incredibly cheesy, but life really is too short to feel anything less than fulfilled. Hopefully I’ll have an update regarding my new ventures soon. If not, I may be flying back to the Emerald Isle to take up residence on an unassuming couch. (Advanced offers welcome).

Until the next life update!

~J

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Life after the Leaving Cert- You are more than a piece of paper

So leaving cert results day is upon us once more. This morning thousands of Irish students across the country will open a brown envelope that they think will determine the course of their life. The truth is many of you will be overjoyed, but the other sad reality is many of you will be disappointed. And that’s Okay. I know we’ve heard this countless times.  Every year it’s the same spiel, ‘it’s not the be all and end all’ ‘there are ways and means around everything’. At the time they seem like throwaway comments to make those who didn’t quite get what they wanted feel better, but in actual fact it’s the truth. I didn’t believe it then, but I sure as hell do now. For anyone feeling a little let down today, let me share with you my leaving cert story.

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I sat my Leaving Cert in June 2011. (Still coming to terms with the fact that, that was five whole years ago). I was 17. The world was my oyster (or clam as I once very blondely referred to it).  For a long while I struggled to find what it was I actually wanted to do after school. All around me classmates were interested in being teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, nurses, radiographers, dietitians, pharmacists, scientists, vets, you name it. But I knew I didn’t want to be any of those things. They just didn’t appeal to me. It felt like there wasn’t a single course out there to suit me. It was by chance that I actually discovered my area of interest.

Surprise surprise it was actually at one of those tedious higher options fares that you only go a long to, to skive a day off school. But it turned out to be very useful. I realised that my passions lay with writing and the media. Within weeks I had decided that media and Journalism was the route for me. Looking back it definitely wasn’t one of the more advertised courses.

Anyway my friends agreed it was the perfect avenue for the blunt, outspoken Jess they knew. So I started working towards my goal. At roughly around 435 points in all of the colleges that offered it across the country, it was achievable. I decided on UL as my first choice. There was an extra entry requirement in most colleges of at least a B3 in English, but as far as I was concerned this wouldn’t be an issue. English was my subject. I loved it all the way up both primary and secondary school. As a child I was always writing stories in my spare time. Most people loathed Shakespeare and the the list of ‘boring dead white guys’ i.e  poets, but I loved it all. It was a welcome escape from algebra, equations and the Krebbs cycle.

I worked hard, I did my homework, listened in class, and did my bit of study every night. I didn’t kill myself, but I definitely applied myself. When the two weeks of exams came I was confident. I was happy with every exam bar English paper 2. I felt I over thought it a lot, which resulted in me panicking slightly through it, but aside from that I was home free.

Summer began and the worries of the results were put on hold until August. I went to Oxegen with my friends to celebrate. Almost every weekend thereafter was spent traipsing around the public houses of Kilkenny city. Summer 2011 was a good’un. Then came August and I was turning 18. A mere 3 days before results day. The excitement and simultaneous nervousness was rife.

I’ve spoken about it briefly in previous blog posts, but the night of my 18th was bitter sweet. Many of you reading probably already know, but my drink was spiked pretty badly. I ended up suffering an adverse reaction, which saw me confused and disorientated in hospital the night before results were out. The spiking caused a chemical imbalance in my brain so I was really unwell.  Not exactly what I had planned but sure hey. That’s a story for another day.

The morning of results came and my mam had gone in to collect my results and bring them home, seeing as I had only been released from hospital late the previous night. I’ll never forget the feeling of opening the envelope, hands shaking my entire future rested in what was enclosed. I ripped it open and quickly scanned to make sure there were no Ds or Fs. I saw As Bs and Cs. Relief. When I had calmed down enough to check what each grade was in, I was met with a wave of horror.
I just remember asking “What’s the second C in?” Everyone in the kitchen was silent. But it was there in black and white.
English: C1.

C fucking 1.  

I needed at least a B3. My sister added up my points and informed me that I had received 495. Amazing, 60 over what I needed. But it didn’t matter. I still couldn’t do what I wanted. My favourite subject had let me down. I had gone from an A/B student to a C. I threw the piece of paper on the floor and I ran down to my room. I was still suffering the affects of the spiking, so later that day I actually tried to convince myself my family had conspired against me and fabricated my results. I demanded to see the ‘real’ copy. It was all pretty crazy. In the days that followed I was in and out of hospital for check ups.

It soon transpired that I would be taking a year out before going to college. My family encouraged me that it was for the best. I was well and truly devastated. It was never part of my plan. But looking back I was too unwell to start, plus I didn’t get straight Journalism so I needed the time to figure out what I was going to do. In an instant all my college dreams were slashed. I felt like a failure. Watching all my home friends move away and start new and exciting lives in Dublin and beyond was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. Though my friends were amazing to keep in touch, I couldn’t help but feel left behind.

I never thought I would be the one it would happen to. I wasn’t going to be the disappointed one, no. Not me. Yet I ended up getting hit with a double edged sword. For the year I was off as a result of everything that happened, my mental health suffered a lot. I grew into myself and I was sad and lonely all the time. Who was blunt, outspoken Jess? Where was she? 

A dodgy drink and a piece of paper had ruined my life. (or so I believed at the time).

It wasn’t until the summer before I was due to start college the following year, that I truly started feeling like myself again. I realised the grade wasn’t a reflection on my abilities, and that what happened the night of my 18th wasn’t my fault. I went inter-railing and I re-discovered the spark in life. I had debated about repeating my English, but I didn’t want to go through the stress of it all again. Given it’s so subjective who’s to say some cranky old examiner wouldn’t have given me a C all over again?

My heart was still with UL though, so I decided to go for their New Media and English course instead. I could always do a post grad dip in Journalism after, if I so desired. Once I had gotten over the disappointment, I realised the range of options available at my fingertips.

So you see, I was more than the piece of paper. It just took me a little while to realise it. There’s an old cheesy quote that goes something like ‘sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’, and I firmly believe that.

Five years on,  I’m working in London and flying home to graduate in 5 days. If it hadn’t been for everything that happened in August 2011, I wouldn’t have the friends, boyfriend, and wonderful memories and life experiences I have now.

So if you’re any way upset today, please know there is life after the leaving cert! It’s natural to feel this way, but I promise you, your dreams aren’t over.

So cry it out, drown your sorrows in a few naggins, but don’t let it hold you back. It didn’t define me, and it doesn’t define you.Plus life is more fun if there are a few twists and turns a long the way! The straight road is overrated.

You are more than a piece of paper.
~Jessie
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The end of an era

Earlier today I sat the last exam of my undergraduate life and presumably my academic education. The only way to describe how i’m feeling right now is bitter sweet. I sit in my bare college room with three packed suitcases and a heavy heart full of four years of memories.

I never expected to feel this emotional. I knew this day was fast approaching, and I couldn’t wait. Finally an escape from exams, deadlines, essays. But with that comes an overwhelming sense of sadness for all the late night DMCs, drunken shenanigans and top pizzas that must too be left behind. My university life started and finished in the blink of an eye. Sitting in this bare room reminds me of the day post leaving cert me moved all of her stuff into her first shared accommodation in UL.I’ll never forget the absolute excitement of it. Living with five other strangers about to embark on the same adventure.The first few weeks are a blur, finding my feet, settling in, making friends, nursing hangovers. And now here I am. Almost 23  (still nursing hangovers) and just three months shy of getting my coveted piece of paper (hopefully!).

My four years have honestly been a jam packed adventure, and I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m an emotional wreck over them ending. I got to do so much over the course of my degree. I’ve lived in two foreign countries, I’ve worked in the capital, I’ve met and made friends all over the world. Of course I’ve made some pretty questionable decisions along the way, but sure isn’t it all part of the process? I am so grateful for every single experience good and bad that I’ve had, and I’m lucky that I get to look back on them all with such fond memories. From being a bag of nerves over a little presentation, to now being able to stand up in a room full of people with absolute confidence and ease. From the A’s to the C’s and the FYPs, the stress, the tears and the LOls – I won’t ever forget any of it.

For anyone who may be reading this who is just starting their college journey; firstly have a pint in the stables for me, go out as much as you can (the work always gets done) and embrace every single moment of it, because it really goes by far too quickly.

For any employers who also may be reading this: Hi I’m a nice, well rounded girl who is the ultimate ideal candidate. I’ll never be late and I give good hugs. Please hire me. 🙂

UL- it’s been real, but now it’s time to go adult.

~Jessie 

UL

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Leaving cert memories we would prefer to forget

Once again that time of year is upon us. And while I’m glad I never have to go through those tedious two weeks again, I can’t help feeling a little nostalgic and slightly sympathetic for all the little duckies sitting state exams at the moment. It’s true while most of you are praying Sylvia Plath or some other elusive poet comes up on English Paper 2, the rest of us are praying for the glorious exam weather that we all had to suffer through. But don’t worry, you’ll have your time to be smug. That’s not to say elements of the leaving cert won’t haunt you forever. Seeing as the good weather hasn’t surfaced yet, I’ve decided to compile a list of things most of us would rather forget about the old LC..

1. Poetry

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Oh the agony over those pesky poets. Do you take a chance and just learn the women? Sure you’d be grand then they always put a woman on it. Or should you just learn the recommended five? But that’s like a million poems…maybe you should just place all your bets on the predictions? Yeah Heaney hasn’t come up in five years.. Heaney it is so.

2. An Trial.

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A story about a young girl banished by her family for having become impregnated by the local primary school teacher. The girl then pulls a Sylvia on it and sticks her head in the oven killing herself and her child. Oh and the best part? It’s all as gaeilge.

 3. Maths and all of the horror that came with it

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I can’t be the only one who just drew what I thought the graph should look like sans actual figures…. still having Venn diagram statistical nightmares.

4. The Infamous Irish tape test

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Léigh anois go cúramach ar do scrúdpháipeir  na treoireacha agus na ceisteanna a ghabhann le cuid Á.

How could we forget that musical beeeeeeeeeep and the soothing sounds of Áine agus Sinead telling us about their trip to see U2 An Seachtain Seo Caite.

5. Seeing the “do gooders” ask for more paper

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What could they possibly be writing?! You’re struggling to fill up your little answer booklet as it is. Are they just purposely trying to freak everyone out? Maybe they’ve just ruined all of their previous paper with tears…

6. The dilemma over going to the toilet

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Do you sacrifice the whole two minutes of writing time it’s going to take you? Or do you suffer on and risk wetting yourself out of panic? Then there’s the whole ordeal about the adjudicator having to write on your paper that you’re going to the toilet and  feeling like a hardened criminal by having someone escort you there and back.

7. When you think you have “one down” but really it’s only “half of one”

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was there anything worse than coming out of an exam, feeling like you have one less to do, but then realising it was only the first part of ONE exam. The cruelty. You still have paper 2 before you can tick it off the list and be done with it forever.

8. The smell.

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Yes there is an actual smell. Fear mixed with tears, panic, sweat  and the old school gym. Someone should bottle it really..

Au de Leaving Cert.

9. When the supervisor was given tea and sandwiches right under your nose

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As if you weren’t going through enough during this grueling 3 hour exam. Your tummy is rumbling and then all of a sudden those smug TY Volunteers enter the exam hall with tea and sandwiches for the poor hard done by supervisor who’s getting 50 quid an hour. The audacity.

10. The panic before you turn over the paper

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Are your gambles going to pay off? what if there’s a question you haven’t learned? Why are they taking so long to give out the rest of the papers? you need to know!

11. The dreaded exam post-mortem

“What did you put for part 3 section C, Question 1?”

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If you learn anything from your leaving cert it’s that you should never ever partake in the post exam digest. Not only will you realise that Sally is a bitch because her answers were definitely better than yours, but you’ll drive yourself into a frenzy irrationally wondering if you answered all the short questions or if there was a section you forgot and so on. Just don’t do it kids. Ignorance is bliss. Until August at least.

12. The nightmares

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The night before the exam dreaming that you’ve slept in and missed the entire thing. Even still months after it’s all over and done with youl’ll still be dreaming that you’ve lost your biology folder. Christ, even 4 years down the line I’m still having nightmares about the whole thing.

Despite all the stress, tears and panic the leaving cert is actually one of the best years of your schooling life. You’re all in the same boat, about to head your separate ways so the craic and solidarity during the final year is mighty. Even though it will all be over in a couple of weeks you’ll still remember everything about it. Years down the line you’ll be ushering the usual reassurances to your predecessors:

“Ah it’s not the be all and end all”  “There’s ways around everything”  “Sure no one will ever ask you about your points when you get to college”. In all seriousness best of luck to everyone doing the exams, may the odds be ever in your favour.