Life is a continuation of scary first experiences, but we grow and we learn. Some things become less scary because we realise that actually, everyone has to do them eventually. Finishing university and pretending to function as a grown adult is perhaps one of life’s scarier experiences. The following is a compilation of many of the firsts I’ve experienced since graduation.
The first serious job application
I spend the month prior to finishing university seriously looking for jobs in my field. The first few jobs I apply for are highly competitive and coveted grad programs for the Federal Government. I get ‘short listed’ for a couple of them (I have a feeling they are very long short lists), which means I spend many hours doing weird psychometric tests with questions like this.
First job rejection
‘We thank you for your application, however…’ So these start rolling in for some of the jobs I applied for, but most jobs don’t even acknowledge my application, let alone inform me that they’re not interested.
First unemployment services meeting
I was on youth allowance for my entire degree, so I don’t have any qualms about continuing to bludge on government money. However, in order to receive newstart payments, I have to attend a job seeker meeting at an employment agency. I’m actually pretty happy to go, because after many fruitless gumtree and seek.com.au searches I am rapidly losing hope that there are any jobs available, let alone ones in my field. I figure that a meeting with someone whose job it is to find people jobs might actually get me a job! I quickly learn that this is a very naïve idea. The employment officer sits me down in the eerily empty lime green office and explains that I appear to be a clever girl and probably don’t need assistance to find a job. Where is the secret catalogue of jobs at her fingertips? She’s not even going to help me? What a jip! ‘Come back in three months if you’re unsuccessful’. No way that I’ll still be unemployed in three months, I tell her.
First dole payment
$72 to last me a fortnight. I call Centrelink to complain, but spend an hour on hold before giving up and accepting my fate. I get a letter the same day that explains my next full payment will be in a fortnight. Luckily I have already planned to piss off to Albany and sit around on my Mum’s couch all week (while applying for jobs, of course!). I skip the week’s rent and hope my landlord won’t realise (he doesn’t). I come home with a purse full of pity money from my mum.
First overwhelming wave of worthlessness
I spend a lot of time lying on the living room floor face down listening to Cat Power. I sleep in till 11am to avoid having to fill up more empty time. My gym membership expires, so I stop exercising. My life feels a lot like a George Michael Bluth GIF.
First TV series I watched in <48 hours
VEEP (no regrets, great show).
First ‘real’ job interview
This pulls me right out of my funk. I spend hours trawling op shops for a blazer that fits and is not the top half of 80s power suit. I get so excited that I have an interview that I show up a full week early! It’s probably the most embarrassing moment of my life. I come back the next week and do the interview and aptitude test and sit through a lot of videos about the company.
First rejection of job
So they offer me the job! I’m happy! But they spend so long between the interview and the job offer that I’ve actually already decided to do something else.
First radical life change
My aunty and uncle need a governess for their three kids on their cattle station in the Upper Gascoyne. So I pack up my stuff, put it all into storage, and start my life as I now know it.
First full time job
I provide the primary care for three small kids, including their schooling (they do school of the air). Sometimes we muster cattle. I drink a lot of beer. Through the eyes of a foreigner, my life is probably the quintessential Australian experience.
My journey to this point has made me thankful that I didn’t get any of the jobs I applied for six months ago. I don’t really want a nine-to-five office job, so I don’t know why I applied for so many. My eyes are open to new and exciting opportunities. Next week I have an interview for a job in Japan. Life after graduation can be scary and tumultuous, but ‘I’M A GROWN ASS WOMAN’ and I’m gonna do what I want, not what I feel society expects of me (and yeah, I’m probably never gonna pay back my HECS).
Words by Caitlin Frunks