Recently, I have been engaged in a number of ventures that have been in aid of making myself more employable. These ventures began on Thursday, with an employability course, in the form of seminars. The course was two days long and covered a number of ideas, including networking, and business strategy. The difficulties that current undergraduates currently face were not understated; in 2014, when I graduate, there will be five hundred thousand graduates. This number does not include part-time students and postgraduate students that will be academically far more qualified for the job.
The emphasis of the course then, was making yourself into somebody, and not relying particularly on companies that are already overstretched. It has never been more necessary to make your own luck, especially in terms of creating your own market, your own service, and acting on your own initiative. This prospect is terrifying, and is overwhelming to the average undergraduate; few of us have any real idea of what we’d like to be, and where we’d like to go in our career. However, I am one of the very lucky few who does know; I want to be in publishing, as both a writer and an editor, and I’d like to have skills at my disposal that are transferable, and useful to an employer.
This sudden realization of the practicalities of employability did, temporarily, knock me for six. However then I stood up (metaphorically) and decided that the only way forwards was really to create my own business. It is something that I’ve been considering doing for a long time, however I’d never put any serious thought into this before. But on Friday evening, I sat down and made a business plan, thought about marketing, communications, and fees. And then I launched myself as a sole trader, in freelance writing and editing, and offered my services.
This led to a feeling I’ve never had before; a feeling of being in control almost. I did become acutely aware on Saturday of the magnitude of the task. The freelance world is competitive and it is cut throat. Experience is vital; experience in the real world is particularly important. In the modern world, having a degree is only a tiny part of a candidate, because at the moment, there is little for an eighteen year old to do, but get a degree. And this goes back to the challenges of the job market, creating something of a rather vicious cycle.
So, as of today, I have registered as a sole trader, I have a new business email account, and a new bank account. I have a website domain name, and what remains is to locate clients, and market myself in places such as LinkedIn, on my blog, and within my university. I have emailed every newspaper in the London area, and I am hopeful for either work experience, or a chance to grow as a freelance writer, and practice what I know I can do. At the same time, I’m writing non-commissioned articles, and sending them out to newspapers, again in the hope that this will lead to something. Something, anything; it doesn’t really matter, as long as it provides experience and perhaps something to add to my CV.
The biggest set-up challenge I’m facing at the moment however, is website design. I am extremely competent in using basic software packages, however I don’t have nearly enough website building experience to create a professional looking one. I’ve enlisted my Dad, to help me. This is another epiphany; you need help, to succeed, and therefore you have to ask for it. The worst anyone can do is say no.
And there we are. It’s Sunday evening, I have a business. All that’s left is developing a client base and a website; but it feels amazing to know that this weekend, I might have begun something that will form the basis of my entire career. I feel like I am finally getting somewhere; it’s about being brave enough, I suppose, to dive in, and have a go. The worst thing that can happen is it fails; but then again, it might succeed.
(1) http://pjvanoverschot.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/self-employment-advantages.gif (all credit to Andy Singer)