Tag Archives: unemployment

A rant about landing a mediajob

I’ve talked a lot about work, my work, other people’s work, the importance of work and difficulties of getting work on this blog. And in fear of both repeating myself and sounding very frustrated, which I am to be quite honest, I’m going to talk about challenges of getting media work when you’re blind.

 

First things first. Getting a media job is hard for anybody. The competition is fierce wherever you are in the world and even in supposedly uncorrupt Norway, nepotism rules in the media industry. So it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that is the key to land that lucrative job.

 

I have been trying for quite a while to both work freelance and get a media job here in Norway so that I can make money tow work more freely with my music, although my situation on that front is slowly but surely improving. Working freelance has its own challenges and I’m not going to discuss them in this post, but applying for media jobs is a bit like hitting my head against a brick wall.

Today a journalist is supposed to be able to do everything from writing and sub editing to photographing and creating video content. This is good in one way I guess. Media houses everywhere are cutting costs and thus jobs and it makes sense for them to employ multi-talented people. But the truth is that leaves out some good talent. And not just blind media professionals who are talented on the writing and the audio side of journalism. I have come to understand that just because your eyes work, it’s not synonymous with being good at creating visual content.

 

Ironically, I am quite good when it comes to visual content, because I have an intuitive understanding of what illustration work with what story. And I’m not the only blind media professional who have these skills. However, looking at most media jobs and seeing “Good eyes for pictures” or “Video editing skills” as a description of most of them, I feel like the world is trying to mock me and I take it personal. Most of my sighted journalist friends have to work with visuals in their jobs, even for radio. So the visuals seem unescapable.

 

The really sad thing is that instead of looking at my talent and ask me how to get around the visual challenges; I am just told that I don’t meet all the qualifications. And in some cases, I’ve been told right out that I’d not be able to do the job because of the visual skills required.

 

In Norway there is absolutely no reason not to employ someone on those grounds. Government funded assistance and secretary funds make it possible for a blind person with the appropriate skills to operate efficiently within any media organization. And in England there is Access to work which helps with similar things.

 

I wouldn’t apply for a job as a photo journalist. But I could instruct a work assistant or secretary to film certain things for a documentary or news report and they tell them how to edit it. I would still be the one creating the content. They would just press the buttons of the most likely, inaccessible software for me. Because that’s another thing. only the BBC in my experience have software I can use for audio editing. However, with today’s technology it’s possible to make audio editing programmes screen reader friendly. And in case of getting a job, it could be fixed. At least with some software.

 

My journalist friends in the UK often ask me why I’m not doing more journalism work, since I’m a good a journalist. My only answer is that I haven’t been able to show my talent to someone who matters and that I don’t know the right people. I have made full length radio documentaries, presented live current affairs shows and worked for one of the world’s best mediahouses, so I’ve got to know journalism, a little, right? But these days I’m wondering whether I’m kidding myself that I have journalism talent at all.

 

Again, it boils down to one thing. Attitude. There isn’t something wrong with me, but with the society who produce employers who don’t want to give chances to people who have to work a little bit differently, but who can work just as good and efficient as any of their other employees. I’ve talked about me, myself and I in this post. But I dedicate this rant equally to any visually impaired media professionals who are facing similar challenges. And wonder sometimes whether they do have talents. I don’t blame you if you’ve lost sight of it during your jobsearch. And if you’ve been lucky enough to land the dream job and keep it. Cudos to you and your hopefully liberal thinking employers.

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The shame of being unemployed. Part 2

Here’s the second article I wrote on being unemployed.

Being unemployed really isn’t fun and the days can easily get long and very boring. It doesn’t have to be like that. I personally started off my days as newly unemployed after losing my job due to its relocation by sleeping in, watching TV and generally being quite lazy. It was absolutely wonderful for the first couple of weeks. I did have a social life to, so it wasn’t too bad, but suddenly I found myself moody, restless and getting more and more depressed every day and I figured that something had to change.

First of all, I sat down to identify what I missed about my working life and my main points were:
-Routine.
-social interaction.
-the feeling of having achieved something and being counted on to achieve it.
-Relax after a long day of work.

So, I came to the conclusion that I somehow needed to recreate this in this temporary stage of my life. And I highly recommend these tips if you are currently looking for work and need some purpose to your day in the meantime.

In my previous article I praised volunteering because it gives you a sense of having a job even though you don’t get paid. To get some ideas on what you can do, please read it:

Get a morning ritual. Yeah, it may sound funky and a bit new age, but it really works. I am a Christian, but realised I don’t know the bible that well. So I set myself a challenge to get up no later than 07:30 every morning to do some reading, reflection and praying. And I had a deal with one of my working friends to text and see if I was up. That way I was accountable to someone and this morning ritual has given me lots of positivity plus more time to do job hunting, writing, record my music etc. Also, I know a lot more about my faith which is very helpful in my position as a Christian youth leader.

Your morning ritual can be whatever you want. It can be writing a diary, do some exercise, anything as long as you feel like it gives you a boost. And if it includes some kind of self reflection, it’s even better. Reflect on things like your goals, your dreams, how to reach them, how far you have come in reaching them, anything, but keep it positive. Otherwise this is counterproductive. Having someone in the beginning to be accountable to is also good because it will motivate you to see it through.

Take up a new hobby. I like the feeling of accomplishing something new and therefore I decided to learn a foreign language. Audible have many good ones if you find classess inaccessible, or there are plenty of other things you can do out there. A Thai cooking course, singing lessons, or learning to play an instrument. You might be unemployed, but the good thing is that now you have the time to get good at something you’ve always wanted to learn, maybe even something you can add to your CV? And it inevitably makes the day more fun.

Socialise. You are not the only one who is unemployed and chances are you have a friend in the same situation. Why not meet at each others house and do applications together? You can help each other along the way and two is always better than one.

Finally, get organised. Sure, you’ve got the whole day, but taking breaks in the activities you are doing or not planning them will result in you only doing half the things you planned to do. So write a timetable or a to do list including how much time to spend on each thing that needs doing.

These are all simple little tips that will make a massive difference to your day and your purpose, confidence and security.

Life as an unemployed is not something you should seek, but do all these little things and your days may not be so bad after all.

The shame of being unemployed. Part 1

The follwoing piece is one I originally wrote intended for a website ained at blind people from the time before I decided that freelance writing was the way to go for me. However, I don’t think it ever got published and because it does contain some sound advice, I’ll put it up here. And although it’s written with a blind audience in mind, any sighted person can also find some advice here.

There’s hardly anything in life that’s more humiliating than becoming unemployed. And for a young professional woman like me, who is born blind, losing my job to a great extent also meant losing my pride, since it meant joining UK’s 80% of working aged blind people who don’t have a job for one reason or another.

Sadly, the average sighted John and Jane Doe’s perspective of a blind person is of somebody with a guide dog who has the supernatural ability to do everything a human can do including helping the poor blind person to get dressed in the morning. And we of course have carers cook, clean and feed our dogs. Or do the dogs to that too? Blind people are not able to hold down a job and now basket weaving and piano tuning and working on switchboards are out of fashion, what is there to do for them?

I could write a book about the questions I get both with regards to why I don’t have a dog, and who does my hair every morning, (I do that myself by the way, sssssshhhhhh) and about my employment. I won’t bore you with all of them, but I will include one story I found utterly hilarious. Old woman: “So do you stay at home with your parents then?” Me: “no madam, (I hate the word madam and reserve it for women I can’t stand) I am a journalist. “Old woman/madam: Oh, so you sit in the office and type and then somebody comes in to tell you a story?” It may be rude, but I burst out laughing because I got this video in my head of people queuing up at my desk to feed me readily researched stories for me to write down.

The point of this little anecdote was to illustrate just how embarrassing it would have been to say “No madam, I don’t live with my folks, but I am unemployed.” It would fit her expectations too well. She would have said something sympathetic and started talking about her friend’s sister’s husband’s cousin who died in 1864 who was blind too. And I would have nodded and smiled while doing my best to block her out and wondering if I had to stand her on the bus as well.

So how then, do you re-establish your sense of pride and belonging to something in the time you have to wait for a new job?

Live your dream: I know. Applying for work is BORING! So in between the countless cover letters and application forms, do something you’ve always wanted to do. The fact that you have chosen one career field, doesn’t mean that’s the only thing you’ve wanted to do? Maybe you are an accountant, but always wanted to work with children. Or maybe you are a television producer with a secret passion for counselling.

Stop dreaming and start working voluntarily with children by for example becoming a scout or girl guide, write for a magazine. It doesn’t matter if it’s your local church magazine or your friend Joe’s blog. What matters are exposure and that you enjoy doing it. Become a counsellor with the Samaritans, a volunteer who visits disadvantaged people with the Red Cross, only your own imagination can stop you.

If you’d asked me to do any volunteering as a fresh graduate I would dismiss it immediately. I don’t get paid, so what’s the point? Plus, it’s probably boring. But volunteering can be quite fun, I have learned from experience. If you work for the right organizations, you can be involved in exciting travel, working abroad, making a change in someone’s life and last but not least, when that curious old madam prods into your life, you can honestly say “I’m working with children, elderly people, I’m a counsellor” etc. Only you know that your (salary is paid by the welfare system.

What are you waiting for? Start finding out how you can contribute to something you enjoy today and get that pride and sense of having a job that matters back.

In the next article I will give you tips on how to structure your day to give you some sense of purpose.