I got my dream job through Facebook
Meredith was stuck in a job she hated, unable to get the experience needed to build any career let alone her dream job in illustration. Then she started social networking.
As I got home to my tiny flat, smelling like booze from the late bar shift, I felt robbed. Surely there was more to life than this? Although I didn’t have a university degree, I knew I was smart and talented. So why was I sat the bottom of the employment ladder, unable to climb onto even the first rung?
I’m not going to go to university
I always enjoyed school. I liked seeing my friends and enjoyed learning. I especially loved art and my teachers always commented on my paintings, saying how talented I was.
School flew by and, before I knew it, everyone had to decide whether to go to university. To me it was a no-brainer. I wasn’t going. Although my grades at sixth form were OK, being stuck in education for another three years, mounting a huge debt, was not an attractive prospect. So I took a bar job instead while I decided what to do.
The reality of working life
I took up various jobs in pubs and clubs, and was able to fund myself to live independently — although it was in no way glamorous. I could barely pay rent and couldn’t afford heating in the winter – even when it was freezing. I even sold some of my favorite clothes on eBay for a bit of extra cash. I began to resent my friends doing a degree. They were having the time of their lives at uni while I slaved away, washing toilets and pulling beer pumps for minimum wage.
Sometimes I worked a day shift in a restaurant followed by a night shift in a club. At times I found myself crying in the stockroom with exhaution, and for what? A horrible little apartment and some spare pocket money. Something had to change.
Trouble finding work
As I started to look for jobs I realised just how strained the employment market was. I had no qualifications or experience. I was the lowest in the food chain. I applied for a variety of things, mostly office jobs that I found online, and I got a couple of interviews. But it was much tougher than I thought. Reality hit me hard when one of the managers actually sniggered at my CV during an interview. I felt so humiliated, I went home and cried.
Using Facebook to find a job
I knew I had to do something different. But what? Although I hadn’t much free time I still painted whenever I could to escape. I knew my drawings were good, maybe my childhood dream could become a reality? Then a friend suggested I start promoting my artwork online, so I decided to use the best networking tool in modern society: Facebook. I was aware that it might not work, but I had nothing to lose. I created my own page, uploading about 30 of my pictures. I chose a variety in order to show off my varying abilities.
Contacting potential employers online
I started sending Facebook messages and friend requests to hundreds of London-based companies. Nothing went amis. I applied on spec to publishers, ad agencies and magazines. Thanks to the immediacy of Facebook, it didn’t take long before I started to get replies. Many said they didn’t employ freelancers, or had no work at that time, but I also got loads of compliments, which gave me the confidence to keep trying.
Then I received the golden ticket, a job interview with a really cool online t-shirt printing and designing business. I was so nervous about the meeting. I spent hours building up a portfolio and thinking of what to say, but when I got there I was surprised by how informal everything was. The ‘manager’ was sitting on a sofa with a cup of tea and we had more of a chat than an interview. I showed him my work and got the job right there and then. I was dancing all the way home.
From barmaid to illustrator
I was ecstatic to finally put my drawing talents to use. I do other odd jobs, like editing and promotional work, but mostly I illustrate and design templates for t-shirts. Plus, I’m finally getting a decent salary! It’s been a roller coaster journey but, with the help of social networking and a positive attitude, I’ve finally got to where I want to be. With determination and the benefits of the internet, I’ve gone from bar bum to high-flying designer. Who’s to say you can’t do the same?
Interviewed by Daisy Phillipson
Photo of Facebook by Shutterstock
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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