This month I turn 19, but not only does this mark my last year as a teenager, I hoped I'd find a job and career I absolutely loved.
Whilst completing my A Levels last year (which I hated every minute of), I had a part time job at a children's shop. Two months later, I helped open their second store and became Store Manager by default. It then became my full time career. After a year there however, the pressure piled up and up and up. No disrespect to her, but my boss was constantly messaging me on Facebook at the weekends, days off and evenings and I never got a break! I was doing so much from managing the shop, customers, orders, website, stock control, shoe fitting, staff training, deliveries and more. The pay I was receiving just didn't justify the amount of work I was putting in. It got out of control when I was told by a doctor I had eczema due to stress.
I could have stayed there and stuck it out until I found another job, but I was just so unhappy. With the support from my mum, we decided I took a short career break to find something else and in the meanwhile, I've been working on my own business and finding another job.
It is proving much more difficult than I thought though.
Over the past month, I've applied for tons of jobs, been for 5 interviews and offered 2 roles which I declined because they weren't quite right. The interview I went for yesterday was for a job I was so excited about. It was working as a booking co-ordinator in a college alongside the beauty salon, meaning I did all the behind the scenes business stuff in a sector I loved. The interview went great, I even did a 10 minute presentation on how to promote their salon however, I didn't get the job.
Why? Because apparently I didn't have the relevant qualifications or training, despite there being none desired in the personal specification.
This got me really thinking. Do people like me; who don't want to continue in education, have a passion and strive for business, are well-motivated and ideal for a role, still need a degree or higher qualification? I asked what specific one was needed, and she replied "maybe customer service". Erm, I've just done two years in retail and a year as a manger, is that not good enough experience? Do I really need to sit in a classroom and be taught how to deliver customer service?
If they didn't think I was right for the role than that is absolutely fine, however I am not fine in feeling put down about the fact I don't have a further qualification, because I genuinely thought I was ideal for the role. The employer also told me I was "brave" in what I was trying to do, but why?! Don't get me wrong, my closest friends have all gone to University and I support them with that decision (especially if you are training for doctor, teacher etc), but why can't more employers support young people? I just want to do well with experience behind me, instead of a degree which cost me £30 - £50k debt. The worst thing is, people finish these degrees every year and aren't guaranteed a job either!
I don't think anyone has the right answers or advise to give to young people like me, however I definitely think I am an employable person and I'm not giving up. I did get offered roles within marketing and events (I only declined because I wasn't happy with the commission based salary!) so I know it's possible.
Today, I'm visiting a 'Job Fair' which covers all areas of Bournemouth and Poole in the hope I might meet someone, get some advise or even some inspiration. I'm still applying for jobs and waiting to hear back, but it really is quite hard. I'm so motivated and ready to start my career, I just need someone to see that and give me a chance.