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imageI’ve had a lot of jobs in my time – from dominating hospitality in bars, shops, restaurants, pubs and box offices, to working as a journalist, editor and freelance writer. I’ve supported students in primary school, helped provide learning materials for college students and even worked as an au pair. Can you tell I like to experiment? I’ve always felt that we should try out as many different jobs as possible in order to really gain an idea of our skills and talents, plus working a cross section of jobs really helps to show how diverse we are. Many of these jobs I have held at the same time, and I think five is the highest number of jobs I have held simultaneously. Right before I came travelling, I was saving hard so I was working full time as a journalist, while also working in a pub/restaurant, freelance writing, taking an editor role for an online magazine and babysitting. It was a busy time for me, but I loved the challenge and the chance to gain experience in so many different roles, plus I was organised so I still managed to have a social life. It paid off, because getting the experience of working on a bar and recent waitressing experience helped land me a job in Darwin’s busiest bar/restaurant where I was working 40 hours a week. The babysitting experience and reference helped land me a job as an au pair which saw me working with two little boys five days a week and helped me save a lot of money.

While travelling, it is easy to pick up a range of different roles, because often you are looking for a stopgap role to save money before moving on a few months later. This is the perfect opportunity to keep trying new things and broadening your skill set, plus you have the sense of adventure and lack of restrictions to push you to try things you never have before. For example, living out in Australia has given me the opportunity and the drive to take on a job in the outback in order to get my second year visa, not something I would have had the chance to do while back at home. But even when we’re job hunting at home, there are plenty of ways to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. It’s important to do this, even if the job won’t directly affect your career, because it gives us a greater understanding and respect for the roles others take on.

Here are 10 jobs I think everyone should try in their lifetime:

  1. Work in hospitality. Every single person should at some point have to serve others, whether it’s drinks, food, milkshakes or working on a supermarket checkout. It can be fun or it can be soul destroying, but it’s important to see both sides of the coin and to seriously understand the impact the way we treat those who serve us has on the world. It’s the domino effect – a simple please and thank you can mean the difference between good and bad service.
  2. Work with children, whether babysitting, teaching or nannying. It’s a learning curve and really helps you to understand whether you are ready for children of your own. It can be the hardest and the most rewarding job in the world. Sometimes you will feel like your head is going to explode, other times it will be your heart that is full to bursting.
  3. Work the shitty job. Everyone has one, that horrendous job you had to work in order to motivate you to move up, to change your career or to make a change. For me, it was working in a terrible milkshake shop that was so unprofessionally run that people were stealing from the tills. It’s what drove me to get the job at the newspaper and the rest is history.
  4. Work the job that changes you. I’m talking about the one that ignites a passion in you when you don’t know what to do with your life. The one that inspires you and fuels a drive to learn and grow within the role. This is the really important one, so many are left searching for something they truly love, but if you find it, it can change your world.
  5. Work for a good cause. Everyone in my opinion should volunteer at some point in their lives – whether it’s helping out at the Red Cross shop once a week, helping to run a kid’s after school session, working with the disabled or elderly, or volunteering overseas. Giving up my time at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand has inspired me to do more and was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
  6. Work the job that challenges you. We all end up working at least one of these, the job that pushes you to your limits, takes advantage of your good nature and willingness to work, the job that takes over your life. It’s always a horrible time when you realise how much a job like this has taken over, but it’s important because it pushes you to grow and to refuse, it helps you realise your limits and your worth.
  7. Work the fun job. Sometimes it might not pay well or it might be more of a hobby with benefits on the side of a main job, but it’s always a good one to have. For me, it was my role as the editor of an online magazine which gave me experience and free tickets to any festivals I wanted. Blogging is my latest fun job, it pays and fuels a passion of mine.
  8. Work the creative job. This is the one that really lets you be yourself and to use your talents to their full potential whether it is writing, building, designing, communicating, fundraising or whatever it might be. It gives you space to grow and to develop a new way of working.
  9. Work the career job. The one you really take seriously, the one you’ve been waiting for, the one you know will take you to a new level in your profession. The one you realise you’ve been working for all along.
  10. Work the change-of-career job. Not for everyone, but sometimes you get to a point in your life and you realise what you’ve been working for all along no longer matters to you. You realise that there is a new passion bubbling away inside you and you just have to follow it.

What types of jobs have you worked? What career would you like to get into? Have you had a game-changing career moment when you realised you had a passion for something else?

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battleThis is a subject that comes up time and time again, and after receiving an email from friend a few weeks ago asking for some advice on how to get into journalism – I thought it might be about time I tackled this subject in a post. Everyone has a different opinion on whether qualifications or experience have the greater input into where you end up in life, and I know there are great examples for both sides – but I know so many students are left confused by which one they should be focusing on. When you’re at university, you’re constantly told you need to gain more experience but when you try to get some you are told you’re not qualified for the role. It’s an eternal battle and a vicious cycle – one that many students struggle to break. So which one should you be concentrating on?

Experience

I will always be a champion for the experience route, I may be an English Language and Communication and English Literature graduate, but I’ll be honest when I say that my degree has not really had much influence over where I have ended up. I loved studying for my degree because I was passionate about both subjects, and I would always argue that if you are passionate about something it is worth studying. But it is easy to think a degree will get you where you want to be when in actual fact they really won’t in many cases. While studying at university, I applied for work experience at national publication, More Magazine, where I spent two weeks working on the fashion desk, helping on photoshoots and so on… It wasn’t for me, but it gave me my first piece of worthwhile experience to add to my CV. Work experience at my local newspaper turned out to be the most valuable – after five days I had the front page and had been asked to write a weekly column. I also worked full time for a month with them (paid) before returning to university and was given a job upon graduating. Since graduating, I have also started writing for a festival news and reviews site, of which I was made the editor. It has not only given me great experience, but it looks fantastic on my CV and will help me in the future. Despite not being a fully-qualified journalist, I have worked in two journalistic roles since graduating three-four years ago all because of the experience I have gained. I know other fully qualified journalists who have put a lot of time into becoming qualified, but have been stuck with unpaid writing work or copy writing roles instead of journalism.

Of course, not everyone is trying to be a journalist. But this is something that will work in most professions – I have friends who work in retail, in marketing and advertising, in engineering and several who have become teachers. All of them have had to gain experience in their chosen fields before they were able to progress in their careers – it has just come in different forms. For one engineer, he was given experience and training as part of the course to become qualified for his role. For the retail worker, she started as a shop assistant and gained experience while working on the job, which allowed her to work her way up and become qualified as an office manager. All of the teachers had to gain experience of working in schools, mostly unpaid, alongside their PGSE studies so that they could finish their qualification. And those in marketing and advertising found their experience vital to gaining employment in bigger and better companies upon graduating – completing a placement year or few months while studying was a necessity. Of course, all of them also needed qualifications in one form or another, but their experience played a much larger part in their overall career path.

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Qualifications

In many fields, experience can be impossible to gain without having some kind of qualification beforehand. Journalism can be a tricky one, particularly if you are applying for work experience before studying for an NCTJ, because there is so much competition. I was lucky that I was given the opportunity to do work experience at the newspaper because I was the first in over five years to do so, and I wasn’t even studying journalism! But I know of many student journalists who have struggled to get experience without already being enrolled on a journalism course. If you know that you want to study journalism, it is a good idea to just go for it and study for your NCTJ because some papers are unwilling to take on work experience students when they do not have skills like shorthand, or a knowledge of media law. Don’t do a journalism degree! I can’t stress this enough – I know so many journalists who have done a degree and then have had to pay to study for a NCTJ afterwards because they haven’t fulfilled all of the criteria. If you want to study a degree as well, why not do like I did and study English or another humanities subject you have an interest in? Just bear in mind it is important, particularly if you want to work for a newspaper or news site, to be qualified. But also bear in mind, that there are lost of people out there who are working as journalists and freelance writers who are unqualified. It is not necessary to have a NCTJ, but it is a helpful addition to your CV and skills.

Don’t feel like I am down on qualifications and how useful or important they are. I have always taken them very seriously, whether they were GCSE’s or final exams at university, and I always think it is worth working towards having an official document saying you can do something – even if you have known you can do it for ages before. It is an achievement for yourself, and it also proves to the world that you can do something. Being officially qualified puts you ahead of the pack, if two people go for an office manager job and one has completed a managing course and the other hasn’t – the employer will probably favour the one who has. When a potential employer is just looking at your CV, having an extra qualification on there can mean the difference between a new job and the dole. It can also mean a huge difference between the rate of pay – having an extra qualification can mean you are entitled to thousands more a year overall. It can also mean being paid significantly less than someone who is doing exactly the same job as you – soul destroying. I would always recommend trying to get a well-rounded CV packed with experience and qualifications – both will play a part in getting you where you want to be.

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But which one is more important to you? For me it has to be experience – as much as I love and am proud of my degree, I have found my working experiences invaluable. My time spent working at the newspaper and the festivals site has changed what I want to do with my life and has given me the confidence, knowledge and skills to achieve that with or without the qualifications. I see them as an added bonus to my life, but not something that will hold me back or prevent me from achieving my career dreams. I know that it will be different for those working in different fields – but I would love to know about your experiences of different industries.

Do qualifications or experience mean more to you? Which has played a larger part in bringing you closer to your dream?

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