Tag Archives: employment

It’s Life Jim, But Not As We Know It

Following on from my previous blog post, A Whole New World, I did indeed make it to my first day in the new job. And in an instant, it was gone. 

I started my new job, met the fab new team and received a warm welcome to the office. It was something of a baptism of fire as clients began reacting to the news that a global pandemic had been announced. The boss gave the small team the option to work from home as it emerged that traveling by public transport and working in close proximity was aiding the virus growth.

We had a team lunch, tried to keep spirits high while all churning over the breaking news. Major shops closing, high profile cases being reported, death tolls in China, Italy, Spain and then at 5pm, instead of rushing home, we waited and watched the first UK government live press conference.

On Monday 16th March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation that COViD-19 had been declared a pandemic and the UK was about to take drastic measures to stop the spread among the elderly and infirm. There were tears, I felt for these girls I’d met just a few hours ago, and my boss. Caring, worried about her staff and clients as well as her own family. We went home with a plan to give clients more support than ever before.

On Tuesday, I brought my children home. My daughters and I have a vascular disease. We’re not at increased risk of contracting COViD-19, but my middle daughter had lung surgery a little while back, and I wasn’t taking any risks. Tuesday 17th March became day one of Social Distancing for us as a family.

On Wednesday 18th March, I was let go from my new job. Contract terminated with immediate effect as I was still in the probation period. I don’t blame my boss at all. It’s a scary time for everyone in business and at this early stage, the support package from the government hadn’t been announced. She assured me that once this was over, there would be a role for me.

On Thursday 26th March, we made a poster, with a rainbow on it and a message of thanks to those on the front line, our incredible NHS workers. At 8pm we stood on our front doorstep and we applauded and cheered as a way to give thanks to those making huge sacrifices for us. It won’t ever be enough.

It’s now Sunday 29th March 2020. We’ve adjusted to life, for now. My mum and step-dad, friends Michelle, Kate and Paul have become our lifeline, delivering shopping, helping with school work for the kids and my brother and sister have kept our spirits up thanks to Whatsapp. The Ble Room podcast, which I’ve contributed to for a year this month, has also kept me sane, utilising Skype to catch up with the lads and chat all things Everton and COViD-19 of course. Houseparty is a great app. Get it.

It’s day 13 and while we’re having a lazy Sunday. Tomorrow we’ll be starting a new routine. 9am PE with Joe, 10:30 – 1:30 school work, no Ipads or tech until 4pm. Everyone is helping to prep lunch and tea. There will be baths and bed and movie night on the projector thanks to Disney+ and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

I don’t know what’s to come. The prospect of it scares and excites me in equal measure. One thing I do know is that I don’t want to go back to ‘normal’. I’ve learned some serious lessons these last couple of weeks, and I’ve no doubt there are more to come. For me, going back isn’t an option.

I hope you and yours are safe and well.

To every single key worker and volunteer, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for everything you’re doing, you are incredible. 

 

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The Twilight

Is anyone else waiting, pen poised to fill in day one of a fresh, new 2020 diary? Can we just get on with it now?

December has been a haze of job applications, trying not to spend unnecessarily and walking my dog. I’ve spoken to more recruiters than family over the festive period – to the point where I wondered if I should’ve included them on my Christmas card list? Oh, that’s another thing, I reckon Christmas cards will be a gonner in 2020. We’re all saving the planet with little steps and I reckon the festive, glittery tokens will be next on the cull list.

We’re in the twilight zone at the moment. That annoying time between Christmas and New Year where some people are back at work, some are still smashing through the selection boxes and daytime films, some never had a break at all. If you’e a job seeker during this time, it’s frustrating as hell.

When you’ve filed a brilliant application that you’re sure will picked up – the twilight blows it apart because everything takes so damn long at this time of year. I suppose it doesn’t help if you’re impatient.

It was also surprising to see a lot of job adverts being posted on Christmas day. Stuffed with turkey, hating on you relatives, dreading the thought of going back to that job you hate? Get on your new shiny iphone and apply for a job before the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special!

I have applied for around 178 jobs in December. Ranging from Portsmouth to Stranraer and everywhere in between. Reporter, Journalist, Media Manager, Social Media Manager, Copy Writer, Editor, Sub Editor, Night Editor, Communications Manager, you name it.

I’m hopeful that 1st January 2020 brings a flurry of interest and I can begin the next decade in a challenging yet rewarding role. Realistically, who is chasing applicants on New Years Day? Back to the selection boxes it is then!

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For Hire: Expert Juggler

I cannot juggle balls. 

I can juggle a young family, school run, parents evenings, dentist appointments, hospital check ups, daily nosebleeds, domestic shiz, seeing my friends, meetings, writing, sketching, way too much social media, running every day and dating – ish. That’s level expert kind of stuff right? Apparently not.

2019 is an age of influencers and the belief that we can be and achieve anything our heart desires. Manifest your best life, work hard, don’t drop the ball and you shall receive. Absolutely nothing wrong with a positive attitude and strong work-ethic.

I see that go-getting, ‘no-stopping me’ approach everywhere I go, especially on social media. Inspirational quotes based on having it all, reaching for the stars, it’s all about working on your hustle. I meet friends and colleagues who are constantly in a rush. Working on this, that’s in the pipeline, meetings for this, planning for that. It’s fascinating and fucking exhausting in equal measure.

Just because we can have it all, it doesn’t mean we have to.

I’m self-employed. I’ve juggled freelance journalism/copy writing for a number of years and I love my job. I adore it. Journalism, listening, writing, stories, meeting people, working with clients, planning media strategies, learning. It constantly challenges and frustrates me. The perfect mix.

But in 2019, is a little job satisfaction enough? How many of us believe the old adage ‘find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’? I love my job. But I also love switching off my laptop, muting notifications on my phone and re-watching Sex And The City for the 74th time.

How many of us feel that working as much as humanly possible is the only way to get ahead or be deemed successful now? How many of us, and I’m definitely counted in this one, feel like a day off work is a day wasted? Maybe its the nature of freelance work. Don’t work, don’t get paid.

I’ve officially adopted my laptop. You know the way people in the US can marry door knobs or classic cars? My HP laptop is now my fourth child. It’s not even my favourite (that’s Cleo) but it’s the most needy and dependent. Or is that me? Is it lazy to be satisfied with one job and simply, get by? Is it not enough to boast about on social media? Should I be spending every waking moment trying to be ‘successful’?

Juggling is great. I think I’m really good at it. I have glowing references and it pays alright too. I’m going to give acrobatics a go next. You know, as a side hustle. That’ll look good on Instagram.

 

 

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I’m a Story-teller, whats your superpower?

It turns out I don’t have super powers in the traditional sense, I mean I can’t fly, nor can I become invisible, although I can turn into the HULK when my kids really try my patience!

I do have some super skills though, in the form of being able to turn my hand to a number of jobs which over the years have kept me afloat and helped me to turn situations into stories that engage with readers.

When I was studying to be the next Stella McCartney, I cleaned toilets at Broadgreen Hospital at the weekends to afford bolts of Calico for my first ever clothing collection. I’ve been a call centre operative, a kitchen assisant, a merchandiser, a sportswear sales assistant, a facilities manager, an administrator, a auditor, a receptionist and an exectuive PA.

Throughout all of these roles, I’ve stored the memories and drawn on them when looking for inspiration for characters and searching for examples to give to clients. Plus interviews no longer phase me.

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I’ve also juggled full-time parenting during these roles as my little brood expanded from 1 to 4 in just 10 years. Being a mlti-tasker comes as standard.

Being a Journalist is all I ever wanted to do. I worked hard during my NCTJ course, juggling classes, work experience and my children. Just a year since I started out I’ve picked up a tremendous amount of experience, some incredile contacts and ultimately my dream role.

What I love about freelance work is that its so unpredictable, the absolute opposite to how my home life works. Everything is regimented at home. From packed lunch boxes to bedtime routines, it’s all done to the letter……because it’s the only way I can get us all out of the house by 7:45am.

The other aspect of freelance work I like so much, is the relationship building. Some clients I work with on long projects that involve developing and implementing strategy over a number of months. Some I work with for just a day. No two days, nor clients are ever the same.

I absolutely love hearing people’s stories. How they came to be in business, what they sacrifice for the sake of providing a service or developing a product and being their own boss. The long hours, taking work home, never being able to switch off. It’s an exclusive gang that only those who are self-employed, or closesly related to those who are, really understand.

Helping people is second nature to some, and being able to support businesses with their admin, marketing, social media and advertising makes me happy. Whether its turning my hand to tax preparation or writing advertorial articles……or even hand writing 100 company Christmas cards, to know I’m relieveing a little of the workload gives me great job satisfaction.

Can I help you? Drop me a line katereillyjames@gmail.com

 

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Pen For Hire

I’m finding it really difficult to concentrate today what with minute by minute social media updates from all my favourite journo’s at London Fashion Week.

But in order to join them, I must develop my own empire….sleeves rolled up…

“No-one can be successful for you.”

The world of work is a fickle one, and how to go about securing employment has mutated into an unrecognisable beast since I was last looking for work.

I fondly remember leisurely activities such as leafing through the paper, circling the job ads I thought I had a good chance of getting and posting (yep people, actually going to the post office and posting) a CV and longhand covering letter……and waiting weeks for a reply.

Do you remember how the job centre used to be? Those wall-mounted boards with all the hand written job ads placed on them? You’d write down the reference number and talk at length with an advisor about your chances of getting the job and how a role in nuclear physics at Sellafield might not be the most suitable position. (Genuinely applied, must have been feeling particularly optimistic that day).

Fast-forward to 2016 and applying for jobs, contracts, gigs, whatever you want to call it, is most likely done from the comfort of your sofa, bed, kitchen table with a response likely within hours rather than weeks.

Turning recruitment on its head entirely, apps and sites such as LinkedIn encourages employers to find you! Interviews conducted via Skype and Face-Time are common place and ensuring your online presence is as squeaky clean as your interview outfit is paramount.

Networking has taken centre stage when it comes to self-promotion in the jobs market. Liverpool is more like a village than a city, as a population of incessant talkers (I was told I can talk for NATO earlier this week…adding that to my cv) just a friendly conversation can lead to all manner of connections as everyone seems linked somehow?!

I love nothing more than getting to know people and hearing about their work, which should stand me in good stead being a journalist, right? Well the time has come for me to test that theory as I step out of the ‘trainee’ shadows and make good on all the conversations and training I’ve had over the last few months.

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My first contract has been confirmed this week and I’m absolutely delighted to have been welcomed into the fold at The Guide, Liverpool. Joining a team that is dedicated to brining you the best ‘What’s Happening’ guide to our amazing city is a brilliant first step.

You can read my recent professional work in the Show Reel section of the site here.

 

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Educating Caroline

The beauty of having a blog is being able to write and share the things I’m passionate about and topping that list is family. Earlier this week my extended family got together at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to celebrate my younger sister Caroline and her graduation from John Moore’s University….with an impressive 2:1 in Psychology. Although she switched degree from Journalism after year one, I’ve no doubt Caroline will utilise her junior hack skills and psychometric testing methods to become the North West’s answer to April O’Neill (She watched a lot of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Diagnosis Murder as a kid)

Caroline & Kate

          Congratulations Caroline!!

I wish I’d known what I wanted to do from a young age, I’m envious of those who transition from school or university on a career path they are dedicated to and focused on. It’s taken me turning 32 to really knuckle down and decide what I want to do and more importantly what I can do with my future. Ultimately I want my kids to grow up seeing me work hard to meet my goals and for them to be proud of me. The greatest gift my Mum has given me is my work ethic, she too is a grafter and I want my kids to have that attitude towards getting what they want through hard work and effort.

Caroline, the youngest of three is the only one to complete a degree, as my older brother and I left education at HND level to pursue very different paths in the Civil Service and overseas. Typically we’ve come full circle and found the only way to truly get the work/life balance right is through ongoing learning and development and not by chasing the elusive 6 figure salary. The cost of education is soaring, and bursaries and grants are almost none existent for our age bracket making it practically impossible to take a career break to retrain. With yet more changes to the welfare system scheduled for the next academic year, the time to learn is now.

After much soul-searching, a number of Open University short courses and hundreds of emails to The City of Liverpool College, I am officially a proper, 100% student again in September as I embark on the NCTJ accreditation course and the first step to becoming a fully fledged Journalist. I’ve not been this excited since my friend Graeme told me Tom Hardy was in Size? on Bold Street! I’m already learning Teeline Shorthand and trying to get my head around McNae’s Law in Journalism tome….and despite it being challenging, it’s the most fun I’ve had in ages. AND…..the icing on the cake? Caroline and I are classmates……cue ‘You can’t sit with us’ meme’s a plenty on our Facebook accounts.

I’m ridiculously proud to say my brother is also returning to college in September to show the world what a truly gifted artist he is…no really we’re not just being supportive in that way families do….if he was crap we’d have told him by now! His earlier work in super car design,  still life and wicked comic illustrations are effortless and we’re all sick and tired of harping on about how he should do something with his talent. Finally, after 14 years in London, the daily slog of the civil service has ground him down to appreciate his natural flair and he’s raring to go. Watch this space for updates on his work…also if you want a 9ft tall My Little Pony/Marvel mural painting on your bedroom wall….he’s your guy!

So here’s to Caroline, so proud of you and love you very much. You’ve inspired me and Andy to try again x

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