There I was, third year journo student, who had managed to secure a pretty big interview with a ‘real life’ journalist. One that turned out to be a completely down to earth person who was happy to help out someone who also cared about the future of our generation. HTBJ was and is an inspiration to the thousands of people who are jobless, working in journalism or aspiring to, studying, recent graduates, undergrads and basically everything in between. Erica managed to do something pretty amazing out of a shitty situation and came out of it with a 1 year contract at The Guardian. If you’re not aware of her story (refer to video below) – she is an MA journalism grad turned jobless hack, who managed to turn her unemployment predicament into a hilariously witty and informative blog: How To Be Jobless.
After returning from Thailand, where she fled after graduating into a bleak recession hit job market, HTBJ launched her website. “The reason I started How To Be Jobless was because I wasn’t much fun to be around. I would go on long rants about it and be upset and I didn’t really like myself. I was looking for something to make me laugh about it. Nobody was talking about it and I thought, ‘there are a million of us and nobody is talking to us or saying anything to try and make us feel better’.
Her words of wisdom for about-to-graduate media students are to be aware in advance of what’s going to happen. “The one thing that nobody tells you is that it will probably take you two years [after you graduate]. What is difficult is that universities make you think that when you graduate in June, that somewhere in London 50 jobs will open up for your course just because you graduated, but that’s just not the case. It’s supposed to take a while, so don’t worry like I did. I freaked out within 2 weeks and applied for a job in Thailand. I left everything when I didn’t really want to because I thought I had to grab a job, because there were none here. I was worried I’d be on the street.”
She also shares five pieces of advice for media/journalism students:
1). On a practical level, if you run a blog or site or something, make every piece you do the best piece you’ve ever done. I know that’s hard but if you aim for that each time you’ll be consistent which is what so many people lack.
2). When you’re your own editor make sure everything is good and show people you are awesome. Content is king is a cliché but it’s important because when people go through your site they are waiting for something bad and if they don’t get it then they will remember you.
3). Be consistent. You can’t have people go to your blog and see that the last post was posted two months ago. There are so many dead blogs floating around, prove you aren’t one of those.
4). It takes a while to cultivate, but don’t make your writing about yourself.
You are probably not that interesting and I don’t mean that horribly. If you’re writing for people, most people don’t know you so don’t make it about you unless it’s something related to the people reading. That’s why I’m anonymous… if it was *****’s job hunt nobody would care, I don’t even think my mum would read that, it’s not interesting
5). Pick a theme you can carry on. If you choose something too narrow like Faulty Towers you can write twelve posts and you’ll have to stop.
Upon seeing my panic stricken face towards the end of the interview, she also stressed that we will probably all be absolutely fine. “You’re going to be fine but be prepared that it may take time. Everybody misses out the one to two years that you have to survive between graduating and getting a job. Tough it out and don’t give up. It sucks and nobody tells you it sucks, they just tell you it’s tough. Keep practicing and you will only get better. Also you really can’t have a CV gap so keep doing stuff even as a freelance.”
This article has been re-purposed many times, for WNOL, Smoke Magazine, WNOL Radio Show and now finally, here, where it was meant to be published in the first place. Many thanks to Erica (@ericabuist) for her patience and willingness to keep talking to me, and for inviting me to lunch whilst I was interning at the Guardian so I didn’t have to eat alone.