In search of greener grasses
When I first moved to Canada it was a sort of reward I gave to myself. I felt I deserved to experience a new country after being born, raised, and completely schooled in Northern Ireland. I had always regretted not taking a gap year and picking fruit on some remote farm in some far away place, so Canada was an overdue adventure..
In University in Northern Ireland, I studied Media and Production, and to be perfectly honest I was so unsure of what I wanted to be that I tried to choose something broad and vague and hoped for the best.. I made true friends, lived with lunatics, became somewhat of a lunatic myself, and just generally took it for what it was – a University in a rather grim location surrounded by fields with a bus that came twice an hour to get you to class, where you sprinted in horrendous weather conditions only to miss it and thus miss your education for that day. This happened more times than I care to remember but that was part of the charm.
I soon graduated into a lovely recession, lived at home, and applied for jobs. I hadn’t anticipated a summer of unemployment – was this what happened to people who didn’t decide to get into major debt for the sake of a degree? Wasn’t I guaranteed an all right job at least in the neighborhood of my industry? I should have guessed job offers weren’t going to be flooding through the letter box when every Friday we had ‘guest speakers’ from the UTV, BBC, short film studios or advertising firms telling us the best way to get our foot in the door was to ‘Like’ the company’s Facebook page, stalk them, and have a drink in certain bars. My only job offers after three months of relentless searching were from Zara Clothing and a call center. A friend who was already slaving away at that call center warned me not to ‘sell my soul’ there, so I sold it to Zara instead, working full time for nine months until I saved enough to hop across the pond.
I’ve been here in Canada for just over two years, and I’ve learned a thing or two – like about interning, which we don’t do at home.. Here it is perfectly acceptable for a company to expect you to work three or four months, full time, for free, without certainty of employment afterward. Wonderful! Sure, I could get hands-on experience, but I would probably end up homeless, sleeping under the desk and breaking into the staffroom fridge for scraps. I’ve heard stories where interns do get jobs, and I’ve heard stories where they do not. The whole thing is such a gamble, and only the bosses really know if they ever intend to hire you, or if you’re just another disposable freebie human.
There is definitely more hope in Canada, though, when it comes to the industry. There really is an air that something could happen here, and that you could in fact be the lucky one. The one who will make your whole entire jaded graduating class say, ”There! Someone did it! It is possible!” I haven’t been that lucky (yet, let’s stay positive) but I feel I certainly am on the right track. Canada is not over the recession, but at least that “a job’s a job” mantra does exist here. That mantra was more of a fact in Ireland. You really were lucky to have any job at all, degree or no degree, trade or no trade, skill or no skill.
I’m 24. I want to focus my energies on getting closer to my dreams. I am beyond sick of pouring my energies into short stints that soon become years into silly companies that I suppose develop my skills but actually just reinforce that I do not want to be working there forever, if at all. What will happen next? Who knows. And what will become of me, I have no clue. I feel I’m taking the right steps and I’m almost sure that that in itself makes the grass somewhat greener on this side. I think.