You already know about how hard it was for me to get a job in Melbourne. I couldn’t get a housekeeping job. I didn’t get a dishwasher position (“experienced dishwashers only”). Whiny Whitney over here just can’t stop complaining about how wrong her expectations were. But the great news is… I finally found a job! It’s not enough hours, it’s far away from my house and the pay is despicable. Who cares? Let’s celebrate it! In honor of March 19, Labour Day here in Melbourne, I bring you four examples of how I failed at the job search before landing my current position.
1 Aeon Mag
The first of my job fails happened three days after landing in Melbourne.It’s an example of how last minute planning leads to mistakes and inopportune situations.
I saw a job on Seek for an editorial assistant for Aeon, an online magazine of “provocative long form journalism.” It seemed like a dream come true. No industry experience required. A chance to work for a cutting edge publication! Lookout! I prepared my resume and cover letter, hesitating over every word to make sure it was perfect. The application was due on Monday. Sunday night, I had everything ready to send in. The only thing missing was a cell phone number. My plan was to wake up early, go to Optus, get my sim card, run to the Victoria Library to make the changes on my resume and send it in. Sounds simple enough.
Cut to Monday, where we’re rushing back and forth from the CBD to St. Kilda to get my passport. You can’t buy a sim card without one. I buy the cell phone. I run to the Victoria Library. I wait in in line to get a 30 minute code to get on one of their public computers. I download the documents to try to change my resume…and…I…can’t…make…changes! Hyperventilation commence! The computers at the Victoria Library aren’t equipped with Microsoft Word. BE WARNED! Before I realize it I only have 10 minutes left before my time is up. Someone is in line behind me.
Struggling to decide whether or not its worth it to send it in (I don’t have enough time to go back and get my computer), I decide to make changes on Google Drive and send in extremely professional links to a Google Doc in my application. I made that decision and was about to send it in. All the while, Erin approaches me and has some terrible difficulties with her applications that were due. She can’t even log into her Gmail because she forgot the password. She forgot her phone at home which is automatically logged in all the time. “You need to leave me!” I rudely told Erin. “I only have six minutes left!” She looked anxiously at me and walked away. “This is so stressful.”
I needed to find the correct email to send my application to, so I opened the link to the Seek advertisement. When I clicked on it, I saw a notification that the advertisement had expired. Frantically, with two minutes left on my computer I found any Aeon email address I could find online. I sent in the Google Docs of my resume and cover letter, and thought, well at least I tried. So that’s how you don’t try to get a super cool job in your dream industry.
Just last week, I finally got a rejection email. It didn’t even hurt. It was the 30th I had gotten. What’s one more?
2 “Nude Modeling”
Around the hostel and Brunswick Street, I kept seeing advertisements nude art models. It also said “non nude modeling as well.” When I saw the $250 payment and considered my dwindling account, I thought, how bad could sitting naked in an art class in front of people I’d never see again really be?
I called the number on the flyer and made an appointment for them to explain the projects. I went into their office. Instead of a school or workshop, it was a chic, modern looking facility. A secretary told me to wait on the leather couches. I glanced down at the magazines full of naked girls. I looked around the walls and saw magazine covers of girl’s faces mid orgasm.
A girl with long black hair and straight across bangs opened her office door and told me to come in. “We’re going to explain to you two projects we’ve got going at the moment to see if you’re interested.” What kind of art projects are these? Who are the students? I sat opposite from her and couldn’t help but be distracted by the photos of vaginas and breasts she printed out and tacked to her bulletin board.
She went on to professionally explain the two projects – nude photos and a video series of female masturbation. For what, you may wonder? For an exclusive, members only “nude model” website. After seeing some examples and discussing the project, I politely explained I wouldn’t be interested. After all, $250 won’t even get me very far in this city.
Backpackers: If this isn’t your style, then avoid anything that advertises nude modeling!
3 Herbalife Pyramid Scheme
Maybe the moral of this post is that I should stay away from Seek. Because this one is a direct result of that as well. An bright, enthusiastic and passionate ad for group exercise instructors caught my eye. After two years of not working as in group exercise, I was dying to get back into it.
After speaking with the “head coach,” he was very vague about what the whole business was. He said they were a group of “coaches” who are “entrepreneurs.” I assumed this meant that they have their own classes around the city and are in charge of getting participants. He explained that, yes, that was exactly what it was. They have free “fit club” in Federation Square many times a week to recruit new participants. The idea was that I teach for free and that way, I get more exposure and I can promote my individual classes.
It wasn’t exactly like this. Participants of Fit Club work out for free, and are lured back into the office for “social time,” where they pay $5 for Herbalife smoothies. They are then encouraged to continue going to Fit Club, but changing their diet by incorporating the smoothies. The coaches are coaches not by qualifications, but their ability to sell a product. The other “coaches” were encouraging me to get involved, gushing over the benefits of selling Herbalife – you can work from anywhere! You don’t even have to be in Melbourne! It sells itself! You do it because you love the people and want the best for them!
Unsurprisingly, I’m not into selling smoothies and shakes. I’m into exercising with other people and general healthy living. As a certified group exercise instructor, I was disgusted by their unsafe workout routine and general lack of awareness for correct body positioning (some were more professional but others weren’t sure how to plan a class). When they figured out I wasn’t going to be selling the goods, I was treated very differently at Fit Club. I was no longer given hugs and high fives. I was now restricted to polite greetings. No group exercise for you, Allison!
*Big sigh* Sometimes I think about this and almost throw up a little.
Fundraising for major charities, such as Oxfam, Save the Children and Guide Dogs, outsource their fundraising to smaller companies. These companies recruit face-to-face fundraisers to work on the streets or door-to-door for ongoing monthly donations. For each monthly subscription they sell, the fundraisers get a commission. The amount of commission depends on the company, as it also depends on how big the subscription is. An excellent fundraiser might talk to 40 people a day and get 1-2 sign ups. That’s a lot of no’s. I came to find out this is the harsh world of sales. The same world that I have attempted to avoid at all costs.
As a previous fundraiser, I believe this a genius idea. For much cheaper, non profits can ensure they have a stable income and achieve this by having everyone else do the work for them. There are many companies that fundraiser on behalf of the nonprofits – tons in Melbourne alone.And who better to recruit for your tough work than backpackers! Desperate for money, generally outgoing and certain to not stick around enough to receive their full commission (in some companies employees have to work a full three months before receiving any commission!), backpackers are the perfect victims.
I interviewed for two different ones, had training at one and worked for a week at another. Why only a week? It was brutal, soulless work. Even though I love non profits, there were things I couldn’t handle. It was not for me.
Training included a free, exquisite lunch. I hadn’t had a gourmet sandwich like that in weeks. I was in heaven. The lobby played house music and young men and women in suits and professional clothing stomped around in their shiny shoes. Everyone was enthusiastic and painfully positive. I will give them credit- they were excellent at maintaining a high moral in such a hard work situation. The day started with professional development meetings, then the company split off into teams. From 2pm-8pm, we walked through suburban housing developments. I went to Geelong, Tarneit and Burwood- places I didn’t ever think I would be walking through.
I knocked on doors, I got rejected. I got scowled at, annoyed at, disgusted at. I once couldn’t speak because the young man who answered the door hat deep blues eyes and abs to make you cry. I tried to make small talk with “tradies” and heard 1000 times “I’m not interested.” I even pretended to “not know how to get away from chatty old people” and talked to an elderly German woman for 3o minutes about how she got to Australia. I was so grateful to have a sincere social interaction.
I know this job isn’t impossible. My coworkers were proof of that. Some were making over $3,000/week on commission. But the whole ordeal, from the feigned corporate environment to the fact that I was invading someone’s privacy, made me more anxious than I knew possible. I knew I had to quit when four days in I started fantasizing about all the other things I loved about life. And how in four days, I felt like my feeling sensors had been ripped out of me. I crossed a line, that once crossed, means the end. Once you’ve entertained an idea in your head, there’s no turning back. I toyed with the idea of quitting, and I couldn’t pretend anymore.
When I got dropped off at the Richmond train station at 9:30pm the night I quit and headed back into the CBD, I felt like I was in control of my life. I was poor – I had worked over 40 hours those four days and made $100, one sale. But I didn’t care. I felt like running through the streets.I went alone to a bar to hear cumbia and happily danced by myself in a corner. I talked to everyone I could. I made small talk with Italian backpackers and teenagers on the 57 tram to Kensington. I overheard some guys laughing about union corruption in Australia and chimed in – could you tell me more? You’re so funny! Yes, I am a social person. And yes, I do love people. Just not when I’m at their door asking them for a monthly subscription to a nonprofit.