Working for free?

For the past week, I’ve been enhancing my CV and expanding my portfolio with another session of work experience at a Newcastle based magazine.  Whilst I was at university, I did a months worth of compulsory work experience, and since I’ve finished university, I have completed a month long internship at a national magazine, two weeks at a regional magazine, and a few days here and there at another regional magazine.  At the end of September, I have a week lined up at Nuts magazine, and in the next few weeks I have some other experience (mainly design and PR/marketing) lined up with a local company.

During this work experience, I’ve learnt a lot, namely:  You get more hands on experience at the small scale establishments, teen magazines are not my forte, and working for free is expensive.

My fellow graduates and myself were all told that the way to get into journalism is hard graft, and unless you’re really lucky, it looks like this, initially, has to be for free.  But at what point is enough enough?  How long do you keep working for free before it becomes financially impossible?  At the moment, I’m signed on, searching for paid work, whilst working for free and living in my parents house.  But next week, I’m 22.  How long do I keep doing this for?  How long is it alright to live off the government, my parents, my boyfriend?  Because from where I’m sat, it doesn’t feel like it’s alright at all.  But it seems like it’s my only option.

I know my prospects are good – I’m being proactive in finding work, and they keep telling me at Lifestyle that they would hire me if they could, but they can’t.  I can write and design – something which seems to be a selling point, and it’s great to hear, but it’s difficult to know what to do with that information.

This morning I bought myself some new notebooks.  This can mean only one thing – I’ve got a new plan.  I’m going to keep on with my work experience, hone my writing as regularly as possible with this blog, and try to get myself a freelancing presence both online and in print, get my name known, get my work recognised, and along with all of this, keep going at my novel.  It’s in need of some serious TLC, and this current spell of unemployment seems like as good a time to tend to it as any.

So, I’m keeping my chin up again.  And trying to keep myself busy.

In the immortal words of the legendary Gary Barlow – This is the life we’ve been given, open your mind and start living.

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