Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What a Difference a Week Makes!

I'll cut to the chase...I'm employed!

Tuesday 18 Feb: Post blog post about unemployment on personal blog
Thursday 20 Feb: Blog post put up on Broadsheet.ie

Tuesday 25 Feb: Job interview
Wednesday 26 Feb: Get job

Monday 3 Mar: Start job

It happened just like that. Now before any of you get ideas thinking that I got the job through my blog post, you are wrong. I will admit though, there were leads. One complete stranger emailed me knowing that his father had a job going in graphic design. He had been in a similar situation and wanted to help a fellow creative person. Friends of friends of friends, some that I'd met, some that I hadn't, emailed me. One felt compelled to write to me and offered up his services if I needed help. Another felt that I was talking directly to her. I also got Tweets and Facebook comments. There were tons of comments on the Broadsheet.ie post as well.

I'll admit, reading the comments on Broadsheet.ie was extremely nerve-wracking. All those people out there judging me. Most comments were extremely helpful, encouraging, and informative, while others were disheartening, judgemental, and rude ('spoilt brat'). I sympathised with one particular person who encouraged me to not give up my creative job search. He did and is now extremely unhappy and feels like he's lost all creativity. All in all though, I was surprised and appreciative of all of the advice and time taken to write to me. The amount of people who could relate to my story was amazing!

Now...to the important stuff. I HAVE A JOB.

It's a 7-month contract as a Junior Graphic Designer in the Marketing Department of a big, global, corporate company. I got the job on a Wednesday and started the following Monday. The dress code is office smart which is weird for a designer as I'm used to smart casual. My poor casual clothes aren't getting a look in these days (Yes Jeans, I still love you). The weekend before starting was spent rushing through shops in search of pencil skirts, shirts, work trousers, blazers, and work shoes. I am now in my fourth week with the first been taken up with induction training.

The building is an amazing new, fancy, and modern space. I desperately want to go around and take a few sneaky pictures but can't for fear the prospective mortification of someone seeing. My fellow colleagues are so warm and welcoming that no lunch has felt weird (no sitting awkwardly on my own crying into my soup or pretending to message people on my signal-less phone). My commute is a 40-minute drive both ways. I'm completely and utterly exhausted and make sure to be in bed by 10.30pm with clothes laid out and lunch ready. On the bright side, my internal body clock has started to change from waking at 10am to waking at 6.45am in a few weeks. Even on a Saturday!!! I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing! As for the workload? It's totally within my capabilities and I don't feel out of my depth. Win win win win.

Having gotten a job I've realised what the most disheartening thing about being unemployed was--not feeling needed or useful, not working to an end product. The good thing is, I do feel useful now. I am making a contribution and getting paid for it. There's no better feeling (well apart from sipping Mojitos on a beach in the Caribbean). I definitely have further to go on the career ladder but am delighted that this is the next step in that journey.

Who knows where I'll be in seven months. All I know is that persistence does pay off (so keep at it unemployed creative folk). I didn't give up on my search for a job in the creative world and now here I am getting new experiences and skills. I think my last blog post about unemployment gave me the extra umph to talk the talk and walk the walk and ultimately got me the job! There's power in writing down your thoughts and aspirations!

As for how I look and feel every evening getting home? It goes something like this:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why being unemployed isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be

Money for ‘nothing’, endless television, and onesies. I wish that’s all it involved.

I’ve been unemployed for nearly nine months (actually that’s extremely scary, it’s the first time I’ve totted it up). Rewind to September 2012 when I quit the shop job that I had on and off for nine years. It got me through school and college, the year of saving for America and the year after I got back. This was the point when I decided I needed to do something drastic about my career. The more I stayed in that job, the less likely I was to find a job in my field, and the more my creative energy diminished.

I got an Honours Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication from NCAD in 2009, where I focused on illustration and print. When I quit my job I had a freelance layout job with a non-profit book publishers. It turned into a longer-term job that I milked through to May 2013. In that time I also squeezed in a three-month part-time unpaid internship with an Irish Women’s magazine. I vowed never to do anything unpaid after that, I did my time and I deserved to get paid. I’M AN ADULT!

I’m not the type of person who likes being unemployed. I keep busy. I’m creative and motivated and interested in new things. Alongside job hunting, over the next eight months I would voluntarily paint murals for the local Tidy Towns Committee, move house, join a hockey club, take a two-week trip around Ireland and subsequently start my ‘Photo of the Day’ on Instagram. I would go on a few interviews that I was so close to getting. One employer in particular really loved me and my work but someone with more experience eventually got the job. I found this the case numerous times.

The Giant's Causeway from my trip around Ireland. 

A mural I did for the Tidy Towns (with lots of helpers). 

Not one to be thrown out with the bath water, I decided to add to my skills with a digital marketing course in November. It seemed to go hand-in-hand with design. I was excited and enthusiastic after finishing the intensive eight-day course and secured a two-week placement in a top media agency as part of the course. I was now ready to apply for digital marketing jobs. They were everywhere. Of course I needed to go for the junior roles and I found that paid internships were the way to go.

It’s been about a month since I’ve started on the digital marketing job hunting. I decided not to do a few Job Bridge ‘internships’ back in December for a number of small companies as there was no one to learn from (defeating the purpose) and I would work a lot from home. This was the opposite of what I wanted. I wanted to work in a team and bounce ideas off others. I wasn’t going to get where I wanted to get by working on my own so after a bit of thinking I decided I just couldn't do them.

In the new year I’ve had one interview for a paid internship in marketing. There were six or seven positions going and they interviewed about fifty people.

I didn’t get the job.

As usual I asked for feedback on my interview and was told that the standard was very high and that there were people with significant industry experience and that there wasn’t any distinct feedback to give me. Now does that sound like a paid internship to you? Didn’t think so! How is one to progress in a field when the junior roles are going to overqualified people?

The most infuriating thing about job hunting is the fact that I am wasting my brain cells at home day after day when I could be out making a difference! I’m a people person with great enthusiasm, motivation and creativity. It’s annoying how these employers can’t see how hard I’d work for them, how excited I’d be to work with a team, how I am dying to work and not just applying for jobs to keep the social welfare off my back.

So what am I doing now?

I am learning how to knit again. I am helping out with my local Tidy Towns committee. I am researching blogging so I can set up my own professional blog with it's own domain name. I am playing in hockey matches with experienced players after just learning how to play. I am making a poster for my cousin’s band’s fundraiser. 

My new runners for hockey. 

I am also on my own a lot, trying to not pull my hair out, oh...and applying for jobs.

Unfortunately it might have come to the time when I apply for ‘normal’ jobs as I call them, ones that aren't in my field but that I could have a chance at getting due to my years of dedicated retail work. They are jobs that I don’t particularly want to do due to lack of creativity but that I’ll do because I’m desperate to earn some money. I want to be able to go out, buy clothes, and treat myself to lunch and dinner.

It just so happens that I got a rejection email right this minute from another paid internship that I know that I could be brilliant at and that I’m definitely qualified for. Apparently the standard was exceptionally high (cue scrunched up face and evil eyes pointed towards the computer). It doesn’t deter me. I’m hopeful and confident as always that I will get a great job...at some point.

Now, while most of you are working your asses off I might go make myself a cup of herbal tea, and as a reward for writing this I may even watch an episode of Modern Family.

There are perks to being unemployed, but most of the time I can’t enjoy them because I am too busy worrying about trying to get a job. That and wondering if I’ll get away with staying in my pajamas for the day!

Ps. I also have plenty of time for fun Snapchats (laurakcolgan). 

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Night of the Mi'raj

An insight into Muslim and Saudi traditions, taken from a book of fiction. NO COMMENT.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Digging upwards

I think I have finally begun to dig my way out a little. (Note post below.)

Where did I get the shovel to begin? With a trip to Italy and France. I think there's nothing like a little change of scenery to freshen up the eyes and give you motivation.

I hit the train station after a quick visit to my dad near Milan. One train into the city. A few hours wait, and then three more trains saw me into Nice.

From Milan I managed to lug my monster of an 18kg suitcase onto the train. There were no exceptionally good seats to accommodate me and the monster. I stand for awhile. An older man, presumably Italian, lets out an angry groan towards me. I'm assuming the train just whizzed by the stop he wanted. I said nothing for I didn't know what he said nor how to respond. After the next stop I decide to brave the blue doors and three steps up. I find myself a seat and don't care that the monster will be in the aisle. This train journey is two and a half hours after all. My swollen ankles from medication wouldn't last it standing.

The seat is so squashed that the young guy opposite me has his legs on the outside and mine are in between his, not touching of course. The guy's girlie, flowery backpack keeps resting on my knees while he hunches to read his book. He puts sunglasses on the odd time and has big white headphones. My guess is he's a poser...and a douche bag. TAKE YOUR GODDAMN BAG OFF MY KNEES! Yes that does mean that it has to rest against you stomach mister! I push my knees against the bag, he looks at me, I smile, he moves the bag slightly. It wasn't enough. I have to tell him to take his bag off me, he does, kind of. I will not be able to stick this for two hours. Oh help! He gets up. There IS a God.

My fourth train of the day has me get a lucky one-seater down a few steps. My heart stops as we go through a tunnel and the lights go off for a few seconds. I suddenly accustom my ears to the change in language. It's no longer 'pronto', 'ciao' and 'bello' but 'bonjour', 'excuse-moi' and 'beau.' I see people paddling on the Cote d'Azur. It's refreshing, especially for an early October day. I walk myself to my hotel and there it begins.

As I leave the hotel I have the feeling of freedom and independence. I don't think I've ever been alone in an unfamiliar city before, after all one usually goes holidaying with someone or a group. I don't know if it was just me or if Nice is easy to find your way around because my feet led me to the main areas and streets. I found the Vielle Ville and it's quaint narrow cobbled streets. I stumbled upon the most fantastic sight - a very elderly hunch-backed lady in high-wedged shoes, playing her violin on a street corner with her shabby music papers in front of her. The sight of her was definitely better than the playing though.

I wandered for ages in the mild evening air. The magic ran out a little as I tried to recite my knowledge of French in my head. "Je voudrais une table pour une s'il cous plait (pour favour was running through my head too). Eventually I settled on a restaurant for dinner, I think I was a bit scared at first because it would be my first dining solo experience in a restaurant. I went for beef ravioli nicoise style and was told by the waiter that the c is pronounced like an s.

Speaking French was hard enough. I spoke in hushed apologetic tones as my schooling in French finished eight years ago. I did try, I think it's a must to know general vocabulary in every country you go to. You need to show the locals that you are making the effort and not expecting them to speak in English all of them time for you.

Back at the hotel a man followed me to the door. He spoke French but exclaimed how he didn't know if my eyes were green or blue. I assured him they were blue. I don't know how he could have seen my eye colour from across the road in the dark in the beginning anyway. I eventually ran off with a "Bonsoir!" In my bedroom it took me ten minutes to realise that I was playing a Spanish tv channel while in France. Toutes langue dans ma tete!

I was pleased with the success of my day. I had managed to navigate my way from one country to another with many switch overs, use the French language, find my way around a new city, and dine out by myself. Things were starting to look up.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Biggest Mistake?

Five days ago I might have made the biggest mistake of my life, or, it might have been the best thing I could ever have done.

Yes, that's right, in the middle of a recession I QUIT MY JOB!!!

My heart starts to thump wildly in my chest, my throat starts to seize up, and my eyes start to get teary with anxiety as I think about my recent actions. Yet, in some way I want to believe that this is exactly what my life needs. Thus far my life has gone somewhat like this:

Born - Baby - Montessori - Primary School - Primary School - Primary School - Primary School - Primary School - Primary School - Primary School - Primary School - Secondary School - Secondary School - Secondary School - Secondary School - Secondary School - Secondary School/Eurospar - Post Leaving Certificate Course/Eurospar - College/Eurospar - College/Eurospar - College/Eurospar - College/Eurospar - Eurospar/Writing course - San Francisco - Eurospar.

That brings me exactly to the age of twenty-six. For a person who thinks that she has a lot to give to the world, it isn't much of a resume. I followed the standard path of what I believed should be done--School and college, then career. Yet, I am still waiting for the career part to take off. The uncertainty of this unstructured part of life is the scariest thing I have ever endured.

Having had to come back from a year in San Francisco living the life of a city girl I hopped back into my safe job so that I could earn money while figuring out if Ireland is actually where I wanted to be, rather than sitting on my behind. After a few months of catching up with friends and saying goodbye to other wayward travellers, I decided that Ireland would do me for the time being, as well as allow me to focus my attention on getting my full drivers license and sorting out my health. It was the perfect win-win. When I eventually got my license after eleven months of dedicated driving and having received numerous nos or non-responses to my attempts at job applications, that is where the energy and focus started to drain. That is where the trouble started.

I'm twenty-six and I feel like life is now starting to pass me by without having anything extraordinary with it. Quoting a quote from a Roald Dahl book I've heard again recently:

"Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog."

And that's where the job-quitting came into the scenario (I did not hear this quote before I quit though but it sums it up pretty well.) For a few weeks I had started to hope that I was the next person who would be delighting everyone with the news of a new job. Everyday I got a little more desperate, yet my attempts at job applications were mediocre because my late night shifts and same old way of life in the small town were holding me back. A few weeks ago I started to plan a trip in my head--a month away, two weeks by myself and then two weeks visiting friends and family on the continent. It seemed like a great idea. It formulated one night, I found myself telling my mother about it the next day, and that night I was writing my letter of resignation. And I DID hand it in the next day.

Now, I will say that I am not a person who can rely on mammy and daddy for financial support. I pay my own way in almost everything and did so on my trip to San Francisco. So this action does not come without serious consequences. I will surely eat into any savings I may have whether it be travelling or just living jobless for awhile. I have finally agreed (to myself) that I think this is a worthy cause for this money. I am young and have no attachments to anyone, anywhere (apart from all my dearly beloved family but they won't miss me too much). That's why...


I need the head space to be able to make more decisions. I need new people and places to give me more inspiration. I need change, a boost to my brain cells. The white hairs on my head need different winds to toss and turn them. I may have jumped into the biggest hole that I ever had to dig myself out of but I'm willing to take the chance. If I didn't do it now, then you would see me serving the customers in Eurospar with my rosary beads around my hands and the coffin waiting behind me.

I don't expect things to change right now but I am excited for what could happen. Life is about enjoying and that is what I want to do.

Now, if anyone out there wants to pay me to do something fun then give me a bell. I'll be here in the virtual world letting you all know how far I've dug my way out!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


(I think I wrote this near enough when everything happened when I was about 15. I researched into the subject back then but couldn't be sure that all details are completely accurate.)

Disaster struck on the eleventh of September,
All nations know it's a day we'll always remember.
Four planes were hi-jacked,
It was unknown,
How would the world know
What it would be shown?
One minute the World Trade Centres stood upright,
The next we were shown a horrific sight.
The terrorists drove a plane into North Tower,
Almost suddenly New York was given a dust shower.
All the people around started to run,
The dust cloud covered the morning sun.
For eighteen minutes we watched our television screens,
Then America got hit with another horrible scene.
South Tower was now hit with a second American plane,
The two tallest buildings in the world would never be the same.
But that wasn't enough for the terrorists to do,
Because into the Pentagon a third plane flew.
Two minutes later a car bomb did explode
Outside the State Department; Everything was put in fast mode.
All buildings were going to be evacuated,
even the White House.
The firemen wanted no one left in them,
Not even a mouse.
Then out of the blue, without a warning,
South Tower collapsed at five-past ten in the morning.
Five minutes after
Part of the Pentagon collapsed,
Followed by North Tower;
Thousands of people were trapped.
Most of the people on earth couldn't believe their eyes,
Because remains of the buildings took the place of the skies.
The fourth plane didn't reach its' destination,
Thank goodness for that;
It could have destroyed even more of the broken down nation.

After it was all over,
Many of people were relieved.
But still it was so unreal,
It was hard to believe.
Many of those present risked their lives,
To help others who were tortured by the terrorists with knives.

Our hearts go out to those firefighters who tried,
To save mankind; But when the towers collapsed many sadly died.
Some people were saved,
Their friends and families were glad,
But those who are still lost
Make us all feel sad.

I believe the attacks were a message from God above
To bring everyone together and show our love.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


A friend request. It got spurred on from the first sentence I wrote.

Steph will always find a man to look at
Where ever she goes,
When walking down the street
Or hanging out the clothes.

She thinks that she's shy
But is a flirt by nature,
She wants to be a mother
In the near future.

She needs a man who's older,
Sweet, and kind;
One who she could look after
And mind.

He would be well built
Looks after himself,
Not the type of guy
To sit up on a shelf.

They'd have a few kids,
A grand big abode;
He'd go to work
While she was in house-wife mode.

She doesn't know who he is
But will wait patiently;
For when he comes along
She will jump up with glee.