53 | Walking Through Melbourne

This morning I was somehow 2 hours early for my job. Since it was 7.50am, nothing was really open and the city was still waking up. Seeing as I didn’t really have anything to do, I decided to see how far I could walk in two hours. It turns out that I can walk from Carlton to Flinders Street and back. Then stop for a coffee and pastry on Lygon Street on the way. About 5kms according to Google, so not that far at all.

It was really nice seeing Melbourne that early in the morning. I’ve never really had a reason to be in the city, so I’ve never had the chance to see it wake up. This was before all the business people arrived, so there was lots of food delivery going on – on a strip of Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian etc. restaurants, they all had big bags of bean sprouts leaning on their front doors. There were also lots of school children and tourists. So many tourists.

Another thing there was many of was homeless people. If you go to the city during the day you don’t really see these people, but in the morning they were around every corner. This was quite shocking to me because, again, I’ve never seen this side of Melbourne.

Melbourne has a reputation for being one of the world’s most liveable cities, but what about to those who have nowhere to live? Winter has just started and you can definitely feel it already. Today was one of those days where it starts foggy and cold, and then just remains bitter until sundown. Not ideal weather for living on the streets. I mean, no weather is really ideal for living on the streets, but you know what I mean.

I don’t really have a conclusion to this, so I’ll just sum up: girl goes for walk and is shocked by life. Where do all these people go during the day? Why is this something I’ve never thought about before?

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52 | Internships and Volunteering and Unpaid Work and So On

I was reading an interesting article on artshub, ‘Unpaid Work Exploiting Women’by Madeleine Dore, and found that it was surprisingly relevant to my current situation. Whilst Dore talks about women in particular, I’m just going to focus on my experiences with volunteering and internships.

As someone who has done her fair share of internships and unpaid volunteer work, it surprised me just how many other people were in the same boat. Whilst a few of my university peers also took on internships, for many these turned out to be fantastic job opportunities. However for me, and many others, these ‘opportunities’ were very one-sided.

Dore says ‘Organisations that see interns as free labour rather than an investment, also come under scrutiny as a generation of young people keen to kickstart their careers are simply viewed as clogs in the wheel.’ I could not agree more. For one internship, we were there as workers, doing the same job as the people actually employed – except not being paid. At another internship, the group of interns were simply there to do all the mundane tasks that no one else wanted to do. One intern had been there for two years. Two. Years. It was only when I left half way through last year that she was finally offered a casual position.

What have I learned from this experience? Nothing. Is it relevant to my field? Barely.

Whilst I’m not against volunteering for internships in any way – I’ve had lots of them for a reason – there comes a point when you realise you’re there as an unpaid worker rather than an intern for an opportunity to learn/get a foot in the door. That last internship I spoke of was in my field, and I was really excited when I found out I’d got it. It was only after my first day did I realise it was not what I thought it would be. ‘Writing press releases’? Yes! Oh, you mean Google some information and put it together in Word? Okay then… ‘Work with industry people’? Um, yaas! Oh, you mean work in the same office as one industry person, but not actually ‘with’ them. Alright…

I understand that some places actually need to have volunteers. I’ve worked quite a few film festivals (and very soon Oz Comic Con!!!!!!!!), and with the sheer amount of people they need, it would be quite impossible to pay them all. However, these positions are only for a few weeks, you get to choose your days, and you get free tickets so it’s not all bad.

It’s only when business’ start to use you that exploitation happens. I’ve been in an unpaid position for a year now (Jesus Christ). What have I learned from this experience? Nothing. Is it relevant to my field? Barely. Why am I still there? Because it’s given me skills that look nice on my resume. Handy for when you’re extreme job hunting. My ‘boss’ has said on more than one occasion that he would pay me if he could. That’s nice. He’s also said that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do once I leave, simply because I do so much around the business. I seriously do so much there, and I feel as though I’m getting nothing in return. Well, I know I’m getting nothing in return, but you know.

Some of my friends are still looking for internships so that they can get their foot in the door. We graduated over a year ago, some of us (see: me) still without jobs they care about, with large lists of credits and experience to our names. Why can’t we find jobs?

In the article, Colleen Chen states that the rise of youth unemployment and the lack of entry-level jobs has contributed to unpaid positions. This is especially relevant when you take a look at job listings. Many businesses don’t want to employ multiple people, so they think they can advertise multiple jobs in one. My friend sent me an opening that required the applicant to develop graphic designs, produce short films, photograph and video events, manage website design using WordPress, HTML, CSS, and maintain the business’ servers. They’re looking for a graphic designer, videographer, and IT person, but only want to pay one person. This was for an entry level job as well, which means that they also wanted to pay as little as possible for a maximum amount of work. Urgh.

It’s times like these when I think I should just create a job for myself.

51 | One Month Later

Somehow it’s been a month since I’ve last posted, and quite a bit has happened.

Let’s start off with today. I had a phone interview, exciting. I also received my camera and tripod. They’re only small, but then again so am I. I didn’t want to buy anything fancy for my first camera, just something I could take with me easily and get me started. I also had roti for lunch. So all in all, good day!

Apart from that, my friend and I started a podcast. We’re still working out formatting and everything, but if you want a listen you can find us here.

I’ve also started doing a bit of freelancing for an executive business school here in Melbourne, helping to create videos for an online course they’re going to be starting. It’s been really fun! I’ve been learning a lot from different business owners, and how they never gave up in order to succeed. Also, the place we’re shooting at it absolutely beautiful. The building is on the sea front, and it’s just amazing.

Now that I’ve actually written it down, that doesn’t seem like much at all… But I promise, things have been happening! I’m also going to make more of a concious effort to write here. I’ve been trying but I’ve been too tired after getting back home – but no more!