Friday, 26 July 2013

Tell me about yourself.

So, job interviews.

I’ve had a couple of these recently, because I’ve been sending out my CV left right and centre looking for internships. I’ve always had mixed feelings about interviews. On the one hand, I feel I interview quite well. On the other, I sometimes get a bit nervous, causing me to ramble a bit until I realise what I’m saying and dear god, did I really just say that? If I was going to say that, I shouldn’t have bothered turning up.

Saying that, I’ve seen bad interview etiquette on the other side. For example, after I sent my CV to a small company for a work experience or internship opportunity, I was invited to have ‘a chat’ recently. Let’s remember that internships and work experience come under the more relaxed end of employment opportunities, and ‘chat’ just screams casual. The way I saw it, they may as well have asked me to ‘hang out’. Message received: this is definitely not a job interview.  So I turn up to the offices in a fairly smart dress but sans blazer because a) I was melting and b) this wasn’t a job interview, to a proper job interview for a proper job, across a huge desk in a meeting room and with not one but TWO people, making notes and everything. Didn’t know what I was interviewing for. Still don’t know really.

The lead interviewer just wasn’t the friendliest chap really, although he did compliment my writing. He did seem like he was trying to be a bit intimidating. It was his company (a very small outfit, only four of them working there) and he was both fiercely protective over who he threw his hard earned money at (rightly so), and a little bit defensive about the size of the company. It was like short man syndrome.

We did disagree a bit when discussing social media, however, the conversation did start with him leaning forwards over the desk towards me slightly, widening his eyes, to tell me very emphatically ‘we do check people’s Twitters, you know.’ Great! I don’t hide my Twitter because there’s nothing to be ashamed of on there. Later on we had a bit of a debate about swearing on social media. Basically he hates it, I’ve got nothing against it. I asked him if he uses Twitter. ‘No, can’t stand it. Don’t really get it.’ Oh.

We’d obviously both decided before the interview was through that I wasn’t going to be working there. If they’d asked me back I would have had to say no. I’ve never felt good about being rejected before, I didn’t know it was possible, so at least I got something out of the experience.

Good interviews are great though. I had a couple of cracking interviews recently with a multi-national advertising agency. I knew exactly what I was interviewing for, who with, what I needed to prepare. The interviewers were lovely. They wanted us to get to know each other, instead of just firing questions at me across a table. In my telephone interview the lead interviewer offered me some advice after discussing salaries.

‘Okay, off the record and away from the interview for a moment, I’m going to tell you that you should never undersell yourself, Emma. Now again, what salary are you looking for?’

In my final interview the Managing Partner again offered me some advice.

‘You don’t need to talk yourself down. I shouldn’t tell you this – please remember this in no way reflects on the outcome of the interview – but you are very very good. You know what you are talking about and you are our kind of person.’

In terms of my performance though, I always prepare but nervousness can be an issue (if I have a genuine interest in the job). I either talk myself down or say something ridiculous. Last year I had a group interview for an IT sales company (ugh) Down South. We had to present to the group (all twenty-odd of them, plus the three interviewers), talking for 2 minutes about why we’d be good at the role. My suspicions had already been confirmed that I didn’t want the job but even so, presenting to the group wasn’t something I fancied. As we moved around the room to me I gradually got more and more nervous. My palms were sweaty and my mouth was dry and reading over my notes just wasn’t helping.

When I stood up, my legs were shaking. I hoped they didn’t notice. When I spoke, my voice was a little hurried, but it was okay. I sounded good!

‘Hello! I’m Emma, I’m from Manchester, and I just graduated from Lancaster University with a 2:1 in English Literature. I don’t know how I managed it really, ‘cause I pretty much spent the entirety of the three years partying…’

Oh, fuck.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Not your Summer Girl

For me, summer is a time of very mixed feelings. Sunshine, light evenings and ice lollies are things that I’m a big fan of, but every other very fibre of my being cries out for winter. I’m just going to say it: I miss jumpers. I miss tights and winter coats and boots. I am not one of those naturally summery gals, the kind that look like they were made to advertise Pimms and tennis and make up free skin.

I’ll start with the heat. It’s great. I love it. What I don’t love is how makeup sweats right off my face to reveal the red faced lobster I am underneath. This is only emphasized by my hayfever: endless sneezing and watery, itchy, swollen eyes for days on end. The skin on my nose will be rough and sore, and the skin outside my eyes is inflamed and burnt. Occasionally this might bring on a chest or eye infection. Oh, the joys! I can’t sleep at night because I’m allergic to nature.

My fringe doesn’t play by the rules anymore and clumps together, makes me sweaty and just generally gets in the way. I can’t get rid of it because my forehead deserves a postcode. Clothes are another problem. I’ve already expressed my love for winter warmers – I’m terrible at summer dressing. I don’t like getting my legs out without at least a day’s notice, I hate my arms, and if there’s ever a time to feel self conscious about being a Pale Gail, it’s when bronzed beauties are drifting about in shorts.

The tanning. Oh god, the tanning.

I come from a family of tanners. I’ll be sat outside with my Dad and he’ll tell me ‘you want to slap some false tan on, girl.’ Mum goes on the sunbed (not cool!) religiously. There is a ghost in our house, and it is I.

I don’t actually mind that I’m not tanned, but it’d be nice to have something to show for my days in the sun. I sat in the shade (with sensible SPF) and still come away pink and peeling. I tried gradual tan, but found the difference so minimal it wasn’t worth the effort. I bought St Tropez. ‘At last!’ I thought, ‘the holy grail of false tan is sure to liven me up!’ I exfoliated, moisturised, applied. The next day I mentioned my efforts to a friend. ‘You’re wearing false tan?! Mate, I’m sorry but I honestly can’t see a difference.’ Back to the drawing board. Recently I’ve given it a proper go, sitting in the sun (of course, wearing a sensible SPF). I’ll lay on a sun lounger for hours, turning over as appropriate, as much flesh on show as possible without neighbours alerting the authorities. I look exactly the same. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m so pale, I actually reflect the sun.

So no, I’m not a summer girl really. Summer for me is spent constantly looking like I’ve just run for the bus. I’m too pale, with a red face and a messy fringe, and I break into a light sweat after sneezing.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

On Dating

It's a misleading title because generally speaking, I'm not a dater. I've been single a little over 6 months now (I think) and I'm quite enjoying being on my own, which is much to the dissatisfaction of my Nana, who is rather vocal about her aspirations for my wedding finger. (I think it's important to note here that I'm only 22. I was only 21 when my last relationship ended, but my Nan's immediate response to the news was 'you've just wasted two years of your life!')

Meanwhile, my Mum is much less vocal about it. I feel like she's a bit torn: she wants grandkids, but she also wants me to be young and free for as long as possible. She wants grandkids, but she knows I'd rather shave my head than get married any time soon. But she wants grandkids. Not on my watch, Mother.

Every now and again I might have a date. I don't really know why, because I'm usually sat there thinking about where I'm up to in The Office. I have also now promised myself I will never mention any future dates to my Mum. The barest hint of any romantic possibilities and she gets this odd little tone in her voice, like she's talking to a dying relative. Nice and positive, without being too committal. Essentially, in her eyes, my love life is terminally ill.

(Incidentally, I got the dying relative voice this morning as I have a date tonight. He seems like a nice enough chap, but uses 'pants' as an adjective. I'll keep you updated with that one.)

I could tell you a bad date story if you like, but he follows me on Twitter. Sod it. To be fair, it wasn't the date that was bad. He's half German but tells people he's half Swedish because he's textbook Aryan with the blonde hair and blue eyes, but he doesn't want to get mixed up with white supremacy. That just rings alarm bells to me from the off. That was in March, and it's only taken me 3 months or so to be open to the idea that perhaps they're not all convinced they'll be mistaken for Nazis.

Something else that concerns me is that all of a sudden, everybody's online dating. Not even just on the free sites! A friend who I would have never have anticipated getting on board with it is on It seems like all of a sudden everyone's graduating, and moving out, and they're all in this huge hurry to get everything ticked off. Job, tick. Flat, tick. Other half, tick.

I considered it for about 10 seconds after hearing my friend's exploits (I was going to make a cheap pun, but you know where I'm going), but I've not even got the energy for listing myself as 'single' on Facebook. In writing this post I've been considering why I'm enjoying it so much. It's not because I'm a particularly popular singleton, because I'm not. I've not got a different booty call for every night of the week. I'm much more a 'get my jamas on and cuddle up with the cat' type, and it's just hit me, why I enjoy being by myself so much. It's because I'm selfish. I'm totally okay with this.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Lifestyle Diet

I was always a fan of karma. It was appealing to me, the idea that if I'm a nice person karma would ensure I stayed out of harm's way, and hopefully got a little luck thrown in there, but after a while I've realised that karma doesn't work like that. The positivity I get back is from the gratitude of others, and the good vibes from knowing I've done some good. My theory is that feeling good can only ever attract good things.

Along the same vein, welcoming the positive stuff means shunning the negativity. I've found this to be a little more difficult, but reminded myself that everybody makes mistakes, and issues don't come from making these mistakes, but in how I deal with them. It's also been about removing any bad influences that can bring about negativity. I've had to let go of some friendships because they did me more harm than good.

It's so easy to let things fall into disarray and take no responsibilty for my actions. Recently I made a conscious decision to stay out of something as it wasn't anything to do with me, and my lack of action invited a backlash. I don't think I could have done anything differently, but it seems the thing that saved me was that I held my hands up and said 'this is what I did and why I did it. I understand that you're upset with me, but please understand why this happened.'
If I'd acted differently though, how would things have panned out? There probably wouldn't be much change at all to be honest, but don't think I'd have as much respect for myself.

We are only human and it's impossible to keep everybody happy all the time, but I can at least try and keep my conscience clean with the knowledge that any active choices I make are undertaken with the best intentions. Karma doesn't just reward the good and punish the bad. Bad things will still happen to good people, and vice versa. I've just got to go looking for the good and ensure I don't take things for granted.

Looking for the good means different things for different people. I'm trying to spend more time with people who make me happy. I'm actively looking for another job (I want to get my career going) and trying to always have something to look forward to. I'm having a real go at accepting myself for who I am, instead of pointing out my flaws all the time.

This has been a rather rambling post, but come at me, karma. I've got more positive vibes than you could shake a stick at.