As a new graduate, I am beginning life standing on my own two feet. Unusually, I have little help from my parents in the way of finances, but I don't mind this. In fact I take pride in the fact that I can do this by myself; I am independent.
Recently, however, after an expensive Christmas, several friends' birthdays, a belated lavish graduation and several poorly paid placements, I have been forced to ask for help; I have signed on.
I have known for a while that underpaid placements can be topped up a little with help from Jobseeker's Allowance. By doing work experience you are continually striving to get a full-time job. Yet, pride has stopped me from signing on. I had more readily taken on a weekend job, as well as casual catering work and poorly paid freelance, before admitting that financially, I am in dire straits and I need help. Having made that first step, I feel silly for feeling too proud to do it sooner, but I'm not exactly thrilled about it either.
The Job Centre is one of the most depressing places on earth. It is filled with people who have lost their jobs, or never had one; who consequently have low self esteem and little ambition. The staff are slow and assume you are undeserving; probably laughing inside at my insistence at getting a job related to my degree. Atleast I have a degree, I guess.
In order to receive Job Seeker's allowance, I have to attend an interview every two weeks, to ensure that I am looking for work. Going to interviews whilst on placement is something I have always avoided, and I think it is because I would have to tell someone (usually the creative director) where I was going for an "interview" in order to get the time off, I have been too ashamed to sign on. My family depend on government help and I resent that their lack of financial stability has had an effect on me. But at the end of the day, if the help is there, you should take it.
Going to interviews every two weeks is also a sure-fire way to give your current placement the impression that you are unreliable and not taking it seriously. I don't even go to the doctors during the week to avoid asking for time off, let alone attend an interview in order to get £60 a week. At a time when you are trying to impress, it seems that Job Seeker's only hinders any progress you might make in a placement; you're definately not going to shine when you're asking for time off every other week. My bank statement has convinced me though, that it no longer matters what people think about me. As long as I do work hard, I am entitled to wander off for a morning to make sure I can pay for the roof over my head. After all if they didn't want me to take the time off, all the have to do is pay me that little bit more (minimum wage), which is nothing to them.
However, having a fortnightly interview with an advisor whom will help me search for a job, could be a positive thing. Instead of wandering along from placement to placement I am now urged to apply for 'a real job'. Instead of waiting for the job to come to me, I am going out there to get it. Wish me luck.