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Baby it’s cold outside

31 Jan

Brrr, it’s colder than the icicles on a polar bear’s bottom out there* but I’ve decided I’m going to don a thick sweater, coat, hat, scarf and gloves and brave it out there. Eek.


Polar bear cub: chilly wee chap


Yesterday I was in a blissful state of hibernation, cue my new onesie, mugs of tea on tap and numerous chocolate biscuits. And it was lovely, but unless I want to put down a layer of fat and turn my brain into mush with Jeremy Kyle re-runs, it can only be on the odd occasion.  

So today I’m battling the elements and going to enjoy, or endure, the walk and extremely fresh air. This wannabe hack is going to attempt to stay fit and enjoy some fabulous (and free) exercise.

Then it’s back to tap tap tapping on the keyboard to see if anyone has emailed me with joyous news. One can hope.

Have fun, and stay warm!

*Copyright of my big brother who uses this phrase ad infinitum when it’s cold


Washing away the January blues

24 Jan

Gosh it’s been a busy old month, and we’ve not even reached the end yet!

I had a big dollop of the January blues a couple of weeks ago. Talk about being a right misery-guts. The job situation wasn’t improving, the weather was cold, dark and miserable, I came down with the Noro Virus for the second time in as many months, and my waitressing shifts were getting fewer and fewer. To conclude my career was a non-starter, the weather reflected my mood, I felt sick a lot and I was poorer. Fun times.

Sad puppy: even cute animals aren't immune from the blues

I used to scoff when people complained they were suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but in these long, cold and dark months, you can’t help wondering whether there’s something in it. Of course, the cause of my temporary downer was mainly the job situation, but the weather, which made me want to curl up and hibernate most of the time, must have had some bearing on it.

Anyway, fast forward a few weeks and I’m happier, healthier (fingers crossed) and enjoying the slightly lighter days and nights.

The only redeeming quality of this weather is it being socially acceptable to batten down the hatches, embrace the warmth and comfort of fleecy pyjamas/onesies, and enjoying numerous cups of tea while watching enormous amounts of television.

Television I’ve watched this week:

Saints: Call the Midwife (both episodes), Coppers, The Booze Bus, Doubt (film), Take Me Out, New Girl, Gok Wan repeats (4OD)

Sinners: Celebrity Big Brother (I was coerced into it)

Easy like Sunday morning?

16 Oct

After my unexpected two-day hiatus from Wannabe Hack land, I’m back in business.

I had planned to write yet another witty, insightful and entertaining (ahem) blog post on Friday night, but unfortunately was drafted in to do a cover shift at the Bolton branch of my work.

I say unfortunately, but I quite enjoyed it. There’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end, not knowing any of the staff, which table is which and how to use the computer systems.

Then on Saturday morning, as I was blasting my hair dry, I get a phone call from my supervisor:

“Hi Helen, did you know you were meant to be in work twenty minutes ago?”

” Erm, no. Oopsy.”

“Can you get in as soon as possible?”

“Erm yeah, I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”

So I was already 20 minutes late for work, was still in my PJs, and had mad hair. Great.

Credit where credit’s due, I was true to my word and was in work within the magical 10 minute time frame. I looked a little worse for wear (but nothing new there then).

Wigan Athletic played Bolton at home (Wigan lost… if you were interested) so we were busy bees making sure supporters were fed and watered before and after the game.

After a long, long Saturday shift I was back in on a Sunday, a day of rest, at 8am for a staff meeting. Joy and happiness.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I’m wearing my trackie bottoms, a sweater, and sporting a rather sexy electric blue snuggie while watching The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.

The way the weather is looking, I’ll have to crack out the onesie/adult babygro soon. It’s not the most attractive or practical outfit, but it keeps me lovely and warm and I’m sure it will be the perfect attire for job applications.

The Saturdays' Una Healy feels the onesie love

Not so morning glory

13 Oct

I knew as soon as I hit the snooze button for the second time yesterday morning that it wasn’t going to be a great day.

Wednesday marked the third day of silence from Blackberry (insert Steve Jobs jokes here), another wall of silence from prospective employers and yet anther pre-shift ritual of me hopping about in a mad rush.

I clearly had my journo hat on as I was up early(ish) researching and writing a blog post, looking at newspaper headlines and scanning social networking sites, all before my 10am shift started.

Given my dedication to early morning journalistic pursuits I only left the house at 9.45am and it was clear that I was cutting it fine traffic-wise.

It was only as I was driving to work through the wind and rain that I realised a number of things. I had no make-up on, I had the wrong shirt on, and I had no cash float. Great.

Make-up may seem low down on the list of priorities, but most of you haven’t seen me without make-up on. It’s tragic. Let’s just be thankful it’s nearly Halloween.

The wrong shirt? Well I thought I’d picked up the one with buttons on the cuffs and I hadn’t. I’d chosen the one which needs cufflinks, and can anyone guess what I didn’t have with me?

The lack of float wasn’t a complete nightmare but an inconvenience nevertheless.

Then to top it all, as I locked my car door I caught a glimpse of my reflection and saw I had inexplicably enormous hair. Think Monica from Friends in The One In Barbados. But bigger.

Big is beautiful: Monica's Barbadian bouffant

Two minutes after arriving at work I hastily applied some make-up, sorted out a float and donned a rather dashing pair of safety-pin cufflinks.

The hair? Well it stayed as unruly as a sackful of mattress springs throughout my entire shift. Wonderful.  

So if you saw a rather bedraggled looking waitress yesterday, whether it was me or someone else, spare her a thought. You don’t know what kind of morning she’s had.




Blackberry outage reveals technological dependence

12 Oct

So yesterday I managed to surgically detach myself from my Blackberry in order to pick up a racket and regin supreme on the badminton court. (Look, I’m rubbish at every other sport, let me have this one moment of glory…)

As I came off the court and checked my phone, I thought it odd that I hadn’t had a single email come through in the last hour.

I’d normally have had at least three loan shark emails trying to coerce me into taking on loans with obscene interest rates.

I hadn’t had any BBMs either. Hmmm.

I only put the proverbial two and two together when I heard the lunchtime news and saw lots of angry tweets complaining about the server crashing. Again.

I’d been lucky in dodging the service problems earlier in the week, but unfortunately wasn’t so lucky this time around.

 Yesterday, hashtags #RIM and #BB were trending globally on Twitter. It would seem that Blackberry owners were not happy bunnies.

Writer @catherine_mayer declared to her Twitter followers: “Black.b.erry n 1. An edible soft fruit 2. A prickly shrub 3. A useless piece of junk that hasn’t worked for three days #newdefinitions #RIM

Many users were lamenting their decision at choosing a Blackberry over an iPhone. Phil Knight, a solicitor specialising in property disputes, tweeted: “Will the #blackberry server let me down again today? Should have kept my trusty iphone!”

Although many Blackberry owners are businessmen and women, spare a thought for those of us who rely on our phones just as much.

Having the internet and emails with me means that I can leave the house without worrying about missing an important email, and can browse for jobs while I’m on-the-move. In essence I can job-hunt from wherever I am.

I’m surprised just how reliant I, and the rest of the Blackberry-owning word, have become on this tiny piece of technology, and it’s taken the server crashing and a complete Blackberry outage for us all to realise this.

In the last five minutes there has been a glimmer of hope. Three emails, the last of which was a pizza advert, have pinged onto my screen. Fingers crossed the rest will follow soon and we’ll be back to the normal state of play.

When life gives you lemons… ask for tequila and salt

11 Oct

As you’re already aware I’m on the look-out for a journalism job and so far haven’t had much luck.

Ideally I would have had a job lined up before I completed my course, like one lucky beggar I know who did just that. I can’t even be jealous because he’s such a nice guy and really deserved it.

If I’d had Lady Luck on my side perhaps I would have got the job I went for earlier this month. Alas, I got down to the final two and the other chap got it.

But perhaps this enforced stint of media-related unemployment will turn out to be really good for my job prospects in the long-run.

Having not landed a job straight away, it’s forced me to reassess my options and be a little more creative in how I pursue job opportunities.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I spent a bleak Monday afternoon perusing the reference section of the library. Making time to focus solely on improving my skill set may seem rather indulgent, but if it’s the choice between that and watch Jeremy Kyle repeats, I think the former is a better use of my time.

Given that I only work part-time I have the freedom to choose how I spend my days off. I’ve got some more voluntary work in the pipeline and I’m hoping to learn about HTML coding. Once I grasp that I hope to move onto yet another stage of Operation Different Ways To Get That Job.

Not only can I choose to spend time pouring over books but I can do exactly as I please, and today I hit the badminton courts with the boyfriend. I won two games to one. Natch.

For the time being, I’m starting to appreciate the opportunities media unemployment is offering me.

So come on life, bring on the lemons. And pass the bottle.

Forget making lemonade: try tequila, lemon, salt

To Wigan library and beyond: how to boost employability prospects

10 Oct

Today I did something that I’ve been putting off for quite some time, I joined the library.

Hardly controversial I know, but it signals a reluctant acceptance on my part that I’m staying put for the time being.

After I graduated in July 2010, I rather optimistically thought (hoped?) that after a couple of months I would land a job a media job and eventually work my way up the career ladder.

Although I was aware of the economic climate and the knock-on effect it had on the jobs market, I had no idea of just how tough it was, and still is, out there.

I wrote a feature on this very subject: Doles and degrees: The lost generation part two? for Manchester-based news website Mancunian Matters.

I was buoyed by Charlie Ball, the Deputy Director of Research at Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HESCU), who was optimistic for the future graduate market, but was all too aware of the warnings Dr Dalia Ben-Galim, Associate Director of IPPR, was issuing.

Her somewhat prophetic comments about high levels of youth unemployment triggering unrest seem particularly poignant, especially in the aftermath of the rioting seen across the country in August this year.

UK riots: mindless thuggery or legitimate protest?

So, 15 months since graduating I’m still in employment limbo. I am earning, but not in the field I’d love to work in.

I’ve had a taster in the form of studying for my NCTJ qualifications and numerous work placements, but getting that elusive paid media job is tantalisingly out of reach. For now.

So this morning, on a delightfully grim day weather-wise, I decided to don my waterproofs and go to the library to see what they had on offer. I was pleasantly surprised and left with the weight of a small child’s worth of books in order to initiate Operation Different Ways To Get That Job.

I chose one book based on what I thought was an incredibly pretentious title, Brilliant employability skills: How to stand out from the crowd in the graduate job market by Frances Trought.

In Trought’s defense it’s a really good read. I had a cursory glance at the first chapter over a cup of tea, and then couldn’t put it down.

It isn’t new ground-breaking information, but it really helped combine all the advice given during my time at university and throughout my post-graduate studies. It also showed examples of key recruitment terms in job application contexts. Well worth a read if you’re in the same boat as me careers-wise.

For now, it’s time to bury my nose into the pile of other books I checked-out and see where they lead. Onwards and upwards!