18 July 2014

Lifestyle - A New Beginning

I have an announcement!

*clears throat*

I HAVE A JOB!!!!!!!
My volunteering has paid off and I finally managed a right place/right time ultimate combo. The main selling point? My degree. Yup, the one I have always been slightly unhappy about. 

Don't get me wrong, I loved doing it and I wouldn't swap those experiences for anything. But I have never used it. I was all for going into Heritage Management after qualifying but then realised the route into the industry is fraught with broken dreams and living like a pauper for more years than I was willing to. 

So I did what most people do in that situation. Put my dreams on hold until there was a "right time" and got a proper job. I then spent numerous years working in a restaurant and dreaming of escape. I focused on education as I'd always thought I might like to teach. I applied for a couple of graduate schemes to become a French teacher but always fell down at the final hurdle. 

I retrained (whilst still working at the restaurant) and got myself a CELTA. Which is a foundation level qualification and the basic minimum for a job teaching English as a foreign language. 

I lived in Greece for a bit, came home, got married, ended up back at the restaurant again because I needed a job. Escape was so hard when there were bills to be paid. I dreamed some more, but just couldn't wiggle free. I spent a summer teaching English in the week and full-time in the restaurant at weekends (clocking up 70hr weeks in the process). 

I got pregnant and it was then I saw my chance. I *couldn't* go back to the restaurant. It just didn't fit around my childcare needs. But then they closed my restaurant whilst I was on maternity leave and I managed to get a payout for leaving a job I'd had no intention of returning to. Bonus. 

And then, to quote a well known TV theme tune 'my life got flipped, turned upside down'. I ended up a single parent and have battled with my own mental health for a few years. Last October my daughter turned five and the government insisted I look for a job. Now, I had been planning for this moment for a while and had tried to make myself more employable.

I started this blog because I was doing a counselling skills course and realised how depressed I was and how much I needed an outlet. That course was supposed to lead me to a job last summer, before the Jobcentre would ever need to be involved, but sadly it didn't. All the jobs I'd seen the year before that needed that qualification were not advertised. Bugger. 

I, therefore, dutifully signed on in the October to get my Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and started the long, slow process of regaining employment.

I discovered the amount of skills I have puts a lot of employers off. And the government's insistence on focussing on the young unemployed by creating endless schemes to help them into jobs (which is great if you're 16-24) means employers have created millions of apprenticeships where there used to be entry level positions. 

Not so great if you're 36 and looking for a job. Any job, but don't have industry specific skills. I was a manager in a restaurant I can do admin. Possibly with my eyes closed. Have I had one single response to any of those applications? Nope. 

And then a teeny, tiny light in the dark. I found a secondary school (my preferred age range) that wanted volunteer Teaching Assistants. Perfect! I emailed over my application and a mere half an hour later they rang to offer me an interview! 

I finally started at the beginning of the summer term doing Wednesdays and Thursdays with the year 7 nurture group. I have genuinely enjoyed all of it. Even those days where I've (briefly) wished I was allowed to throttle them. And then at the end of June an advert appeared on their website. 

I, obviously, jumped at the chance. Made sure it was the best application I could do. Handed it in. Waited.

Is there anything worse than waiting?

I got so nervous one of the other TAs marched me up to the HR office so I could ask if the shortlist was ready. It was. And I was on it. Twice! 

Unbeknownst to me there were jobs going in three different areas. The Academy itself, the Intervention team (this has nothing to do with sitting your friend down and telling them you're concerned with their drug/alcohol use) and finally the Aspire project. 

Aspire is a free school that is opening in Hull in September. It is based around the Academy's Christian ethos that all students deserve to be taught. Even the ones who have been excluded from their own schools. It is taking pupils from all over the city with behavioural issues that have seen them excluded or at risk of exclusion from year 6 and up (that's 10/11yr olds up to 18yr olds.) 

And, here's the important bit, they will *all* be studying Leisure and Tourism. My degree subject! After so long with *no-one* caring about my degree having an interview panel (a member of each of those 3 different areas) all be excited by my degree. And that I carried my French up to my second degree year. And that I have counselling skills was a little pleasing, it has to be said. 

And then yesterday I got the phone call I had been praying for. I've been taken on to work at Aspire. I can't tell you just how exciting this is for me. I'm so proud of myself for not letting my anxieties stop me from pursuing something I *knew* I could be good at. And because I'll be at Aspire the chances of career progression are slightly higher. 

Moving in to teaching L&T could be a real prospect. And I'm not even scared by the idea any more. Plus, if I can make it through at least 2 years at Aspire, I think I could probably work anywhere! 

I have spent the last two weeks saying "if I get this job..." and planning so many nice things. First up, a holiday for madam and I. Not until next summer. But an actual holiday! My mum and dad have promised to finance a car for me. And I have been browsing dinky, just for madam and I, cars on auto trader. 

And finally, I've been work wear planning :) I have created a Pinterest board which you can have a look at if you fancy... 

I am crazy happy at the moment and just want to thank everyone for being so supportive (and enthusive) whilst I've been going through this process. 

As an aside, it is almost exactly six years since I went on maternity leave. I would never have imagined everything that has happened since then. But I am so ready for a change! 

Love, Pearl.

5 July 2014

Lifestyle - I've been so busy...

Hello there, my lovelies. No, I haven't forgotten I run a blog. Yes, I have been too busy to keep you all up to date. I am really sorry for neglecting you. The lack of home internet access has really scuppered me in the last few weeks as I haven't been able to fit blogging in. 

What I have been doing is working. I am still volunteering at the Academy in Hull and have just submitted an application form for a paid position. I have also been assigned some volunteering work by the Jobcentre. Fun. 

This handsome chap was at the park we went to last week.
Its not as bad as I make that sound as it is with a children's charity that run various drop in sessions within the community. I'll be able to keep going through the summer holidays too, which will at least keep me busy. Best of all, madam can come with me. 

I have been busily daydreaming about life if I get this job I have applied for. I have looked into what car I might get and even where I might take madam on holiday next summer! I did toy with the idea of moving closer to work so I could avoid the need for a car, but I think I run the risk of making myself feel isolated and ill again. 

I have thought about what of the many broken things I have I will replace first (my bed, I *need* better sleep). And I've started to ponder a frivolous thing as a treat to myself. Sadly, I don't even know if I have an interview yet so I think I best calm myself down a bit. But I would relish having my freedom back. 

Job seeking is so all encompassing and I'm bound (perfectly reasonably) by certain conditions that there is very little flexibility available. I'm not even supposed to stay somewhere overnight without letting the DWP know... (that one I think is a bit ridiculous). 

But as you can see, I can't just do things on a whim, really, at the moment. Even if I did have any money. I am also massively excited about the increase in cash flow that a job will bring. I have lived on benefits since madam was born and whilst I am so grateful and fortunate to live in a country that has a social welfare system in place. I can't say its a luxurious lifestyle, but its enough to live on. 

I will let you know if I get an interview and you can talk me down from the ledge when I panic... And I will get some home internet as soon as I can! ;-) 

Love, Pearl.