“We writers tell our friends and children, there is nothing more sacrosanct, more vital to our intellectual and emotional well-being, than writing time. But we writers have a secret. We don’t spend much time writing.”—The truth about writers / via The Rumpus
How to get an entry level job in the creative industries
1. Know someone. It helps if your dad is friends with the editor, or if you went to school with the assistant director. 2. Happen to be doing work experience the month they’re hiring and make a really good impression.
There’s also 3. Be qualified for the job and really, really lucky, but it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t rely on that one.*
I’ve writtenbefore about how much those first few months (should that be years?) after graduating from college/university can suck, and one of the main reasons they suck is because it can seem damn near impossible to get a job.
When I first left university, five years ago now, I had a pretty good CV. My grades were good, but more important than that, I already had a lot of experience behind me: countless (student) publications, a raft of volunteer positions I no longer list, and even a couple of paid jobs in the industry. I didn’t expect things to come easily - throughout my degree, the running joke amongst my friends was that we’d be lucky to ever get a job, let alone earn more than $30,000 a year - but my early success rate in the employment market was pretty abominable nonetheless.
As I moaned, in true White Wine style, to my (decidedly more attractive to employers) boyfriend back in 2006 “Unemployable is the new unfuckable.” (Incidentally, I think Frankie published something along those lines, albeit less crass, recently.)
But here’s the thing: entry level jobs suck. And when I say that, I’m not saying you’re above doing the tasks required by them - I would have been happy to photocopy and answer phones at the offices of [insert the many publications I applied for here] - I’m saying that the way in which they’re distributed often doesn’t make much sense, and usually seems to rely on the first two points I mentioned in my post.
This isn’t bitterness talking. Like the famed new 23-year-old Monthly editor, Ben Naparstek, I made a habit of applying for jobs I wasn’t really qualified for (don’t read that as an insult - he applied for the position at 18. He was clearly underqualified!), along with all those Editorial Assistant and Junior Writer roles. And the weird thing was that my interview rate for these positions was actually higher than it was for the positions you would think a recent university graduate would be qualified for.
I never got a call back for any of the Editorial Coordinator roles I applied for, but like Naparstek, I did get an interview for Editor. I never heard back about the Junior Writer position my clips were ideally suited to (I figured, at least, although now I suspect part of the reason I didn’t get it was because that magazine and I didn’t 100 per cent mesh - see point 4), but I got through to the second round for a Senior Writer position at the same magazine. I got an interview to be Deputy Editor of a national magazine when I still hadn’t held down a mainstream media job.**
All this might suggest I was underselling myself in applying for those entry level jobs, but I don’t think I was - keep in mind I was 22, 23, 24 at this time. The real issue, I think, is that the number of applications for these positions is so high that it’s difficult for the people doing the hiring to distinguish between them or give them their proper due (a friend of mine who’s now in the hiring seat says it’s hard to find the best person for them for this reason). Add that to this the fact that a lot of the people applying could do these jobs fairly solidly - that one applicant might be able do them better than another isn’t as important as you might think it would be.
That’s not to say you can just walk into a higher level interview either - to even get a look in, you need the equivalent of entry level experience and beyond. My point is that you need to go out there and get that entry level experience yourself. Submit stories to your favourite publications. Start a not-for-profit. Make a film. Put on a play. If major galleries won’t exhibit your artwork, put on an exhibition of your own. The main reason I started freelancing was because I realised the only way I’d ever get to write the stories I wanted to write - or get a job in the industry, for that matter - was if I proved I was capable of doing it by, uh, Just Doing It.
I tend to be cynical of the fawning over young high achievers - mostly because I’ve gotten to know so many of them over the years. They’re clever, sure, but they’re not superhuman, and rather than being lauded as such (“OMGZ! What a genius!” etc) I think they’d serve better as How Tos.
So if it interests people sufficiently, I’d be happy to start a semi-regular series here profiling Self-Made Twentysomethings in non-traditional job who are doing pretty amazing things - not so you can “oo” and “ah” over how great they are, but to demystify how they got there. And so that you too can get your ideal entry level - or not-so-entry level - job.
* Thinking on this further, I can also genuinely recommend applying for dedicated cadet and scholarship programmes (which, in Australia at least, usually offer more than one position).
** This raises a raft of questions in itself, such as the disposability a number of 30-somethings in my field have warned me about once you command a certain salary. But that’s not the point of this post, or an area I have any expertise in at this point in time. Wait 10 years for that post.
The general gist of the piece is that “hooking up” isn’t just something college and high school students do, but something people partake in all the way up to when they’re ready to find a serious partner (or, alternatively, find someone who inspires them to get serious). Like many others before it, it worries that without the practice of dating, young adults will be incapable of forming strong, lasting relationships when the time comes, opining:
Young people during one of the most sexually active periods of their lives aren’t necessarily looking for a mate. What used to be a mate-seeking ritual has shifted to hookups: sexual encounters with no strings attached.
This state of affairs is positioned in stark contrast to the very serious affair of dating:
The expectation was that dating, as with courtship, would ultimately lead to a relationship, the capstone of which was marriage.
Except, well, no. It wasn’t. Young people in the 1920s and 1930s - when dating hit the US big time - may not have been allowed to have sex without reprieve, but in many ways they weren’t all that different from their contemporary counterparts. Check out what Willard Waller had to say about the college dating scene back in 1937:
Whether we approve or not, courtship practices today allow for a great deal of pure thrill-seeking. Dancing, petting, necking, the automobile, the amusement park, and a whole range of institutions and practices permit or facilitate thrill-seeking behavior. These practices, which are connected with a great range of institutions of commercialized recreation, make of courtship an amusement and a release of organic tensions.
Sound familiar? The college students of the 1930s, like the young people of today, were taught by their parents that partnering too early would limit their social and economic opportunities. Waller writes:
For the average college student, and especially for the man, a love affair which led to immediate marriage would be tragic because of the havoc it would create in his scheme of life. Nevertheless, college students feel strongly the attractions of sex and the thrills of sex, and the sexes associate with one another in a peculiar relationship known as “dating”. Dating is not true courtship, since it is not supposed to eventuate in marriage; it is a sort of dalliance relationship.
Much like hooking up today - the only differences are that we stay unmarried for longer and there’s not the same taboo against sex (and it’s worth noting here that three quarters of US college hook ups don’t end in intercourse, and around a third don’t get past second base).
Nor, as most young adults will tell you, are hooking up (or “making out”, as Jeff Schult pretty accurately translated it on Alternet) and relationships mutually exclusive: as sociologists Kathleen Bogle and Paula England have noted, hooking up is the main path through which young people enter relationships these days, just as dating was in the past.
In fact, you could view the lack of dates the research indicates young adults go on (and I thought it was just me!) as an indication we take relationships more seriously - most of us apparently only ask people out on a date if we’re really sure we’re interested (although this has its own set of potential downfalls, as I noted in CLEO back in January).
“What that means is that you have contact with many, many more people, but each of those relationships takes up a little bit less of your life. That fragmentation of the social world creates a lot of loneliness.”—
I had a similar conversation with my dad on the weekend. He wondered if perhaps young adults were becoming more flaky in their relationships (we were talking about friendships, not romances here) because they were conducting more of their interactions online.
I argued that it wasn’t that online interactions themselves were devoid of intimacy - to the contrary, they can be extremely effective at facilitating it - but that social media allowed us to experience emotional and intellectual intimacy with a far greater number of people.
This is great for all sorts of reasons, but it also means that we’re left with less time to devote to each person we care about. We get so many emails, so many Facebook invitations, so many articles recommended to us that it’s simply not possible to pay attention to them all.
And when we do try to pay attention to them all - attend the birthday party of every person on our Facebook friends list, read every article on our Google Reader, post to Tumblr the requisite 20 times a day to maintain our “Tumblarity" (or hell, even once a day, if it’s a decent post!) - it means sacrificing a deeper level of engagement, with our nearest and dearest most obviously, but also with our work. The time spent writing this post, for instance, would probably have been better spent working on my thesis.
POTS, for example, equals Parent Over The Shoulder.
When I was a teenager and talking to friends on the phone (OMGZ, old school), we’d just throw the word “Heather” into the conversation when a parent came near. “Oh my god! Can you believe what Heather did the other day?”, etc etc.
It wasn’t exactly subtle. I think my mum picked up pretty quickly that she was “Heather”. One friend would even say “Heather is hither”.
Sexually assaulting women with your friends doesn't make you gay, it's a way to prove that you're *not* gay.
One of the most annoying threads to emerge from the whole NRL/Cronulla/Matt Johns/Clare/group sex/gang rape discussion a few weeks back was this whole idea that big, bulky, hyper-masculine football players bonding with their friends over group sex was somehow “gay”. (HAHAHA! Because being gay is lame, you know. And girly! And no one wants to be girly.)
In fact, if this article by Nicholas Syrett is anything to go by, it seems to be the opposite.
Syrett argues that the culture of sexual exploitation and assault associated with US fraternity culture (and Australian football culture) grew out of a historically specific to view any closeness or intimacy between men as indicative of latent (or not-so-latent) homosexuality. Thus, men who reside within these cultures began to trade in agressive displays of heterosexuality. Syrett writes:
because fraternities remain organizations made up exclusively of single men, organizations that choose to haze their initiates in explicitly homoerotic ways and that foster an intimacy among men not common in society more generally, they compensate for what might be perceived by outsiders as either feminine or gay behavior by enacting a masculinity that takes aggressive heterosexuality as one of its constitutive elements. This often has adverse effects for the women with whom they interact.
In its milder forms, this might mean trying to date and bed as many women as possible. (And, as Michael Kimmel notes in his excellent 2008 book, Guyland, making sure that those women you do date/bed are desired by your friends. Lest you think this last, rather superficial point, is simply a “guy thing”, rest assured that women do it too, and have for as long as men have.)
In its more offensive forms, it means heavily discouraging ongoing relationships and privileging casual sex, throwing large parties designed to get women drunk and throw them off their guard (making them more likely to have sex with you), and not paying attention when they say (or indicate otherwise) “no”.
But racking up the notches on the bedpost isn’t really about pleasure, or even internal self-esteem - it’s about display. That’s why frat boys gossip about and monitor one another’s “conquests”. It also explains why, like their Australian NRL counterparts, they also sometimes like to watch or join in:
Some fraternity men take pleasure either in watching their brothers have sex with women or in being watched as they do so. One brother interviewed by anthropologist Michael Moffatt for his book Coming of Age in New Jersey put it this way: “When my friends pick up chicks and bring them back to the fraternity house everyone else runs to the window to look at somebody else domineer a girl and I tell you what you almost get the same satisfaction. Some of the guys like to put on a show by doing grosser things each time… . Watching my friends have sex with other girls is almost as satisfying as doing it myself… . By the same token I enjoy conquering girls and having people watch.”
“Miranda Kerr is the ultimate symbol of unattainability. Men can’t have her and women can’t look like her. I came to this conclusion after a particular lingerie shot was displayed on bus shelters around Sydney…absolutely ridiculous.”—Tim McIntyre, commenter on Mama Mia.
“This thesis will investigate, through an analysis of media, popular culture and personal discourses, the relationship between sex, social status and selfhood amongst young Australian adults aged 18 to 29 years. Employing a mix of in-depth interviews, an online survey and analysis of discussions on blogs and other online forums, it will examine the “common set of symbols and understandings” (Patton 1990: 88) young women and men employ to make sense of their own and others’ behaviour, and how these symbols and understandings impact their self-perception and presentation of their own views and behaviours to their peers.”—Four hours until uni assignment due. Fortunately, what hasn’t been written is all inside my head. (I think.)
The Sydney Film Festival starts tonight and, as my Facebook status puts it, I’m kind of ‘amped’. Like most festivals, it always seems to fall at a busy time of year (perhaps because every time of year is a busy one), but it also offers an opportunity to see a calibre of interesting films that normally only screen around Oscar season.
As you’ll see below, my picks are kind of mainstream as far as film festivals go. If you’re after something on the more esoteric or experimental side of things, try my film critic buddies here (no pun intended) and here.
OMFGG, WILD HORSES WON’T KEEP ME AWAY FROM THIS The September Issue Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue for 20 years, is the most powerful and polarising figure in fashion. Larger than life and more complex than fiction, Wintour embodies a fascinating contradiction of passion and perfectionism as she reigns over a dizzying array of designers, models, photographers, and editors. Director R.J. Cutler delivers a rare insider account of the nine months leading up to the printing of the highly anticipated September issue of the magazine, which promises to be the biggest one ever.
OTHER FILMS I’M HOPING TO CHECK OUT The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Wright Penn delivers a rounded performance as the eponymous Pippa: happily married to a legendary publisher 30 years her senior (Alan Arkin, in scene-stealing form) she embarks on a journey of self discovery when circumstance transports her from urban Manhattan to a Connecticut retirement community. Wry, funny and emotionally charged, this adult love story — cited by Screen International as tantamount to a female take on a Philip Roth novel – features a stellar ensemble cast including Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore and Monica Bellucci.
Food Inc Discover the truth about the US food industry; the chemicals, the hidden truths and the hope for the future.
Cleo From 5 to 7 Cleo, a deliciously frothy chanteuse, kills a couple of hours on the streets of Paris, banters with her maid, jams with fellow musicians and bickers with her older lover, all the while waiting to receive test results for cancer. Romance blossoms at her most despairing moment and everything that seemed terminal suddenly begins to breathe again. Blending her keen documentary shooting style with pop aesthetics and editing techniques that would come to define the French New Wave, Varda turns her portrait of a ditzy ingénue inside-out, revealing a more complex character than the pretty, pampered surfaces imply.
Cedar Boys Sydney’s western sprawl, alien to many harbour city-dwellers, is home to a trio of youthful Lebanese-Australian mates. A panel-beater with dreams of more under the bonnet, Tarek (Chantery) is the least confident of the three, while Nabil (Dannoun) seems, at first, a steadier sort. Drug dealer Sam (Sari) is definitely the hotheaded one. Clubbing in the city, Tarek meets a hot eastern suburbs girl (Taylor) and their east-west relationship triggers his shift into crime. Caradee, in his feature debut, has crafted a forceful city drama that provides an insight into Sydney’s multicultural underbelly.
We Live In Public At the turn of the millenium, [internet pioneer Josh] Harris… created an artificial society in an underground bunker in the heart of New York City. More than 100 artists moved in and lived in pods under 24-hour surveillance in what was essentially a human terrarium. On January 1, 2000, after 30 days, the project was busted by FEMA as a ‘millennial cult’. Undeterred, Harris struck again, this time as his own subject. Rigging his loft with 32 motion-controlled cameras, he convinced his girlfriend to allow him to record streaming video of every moment of their lives… Sundance award winner Ondi Timoner chronicled Harris for a decade, culling through thousands of hours of Harris’ own footage and coupling it with rousing vérité of her own. The result is a fascinating, sexy, yet cautionary, tale where we all become Big Brother.
The Girlfriend Experience Combining a relaxed, freewheeling style with a fragmented temporal structure, Steven Soderbergh breathes out after the grand scale project of Che Parts 1 & 2 with this nimble, deceptively sophisticated film. Chelsea (adult film star Sasha Grey) is an expensive escort with taste and intelligence to match. Focused on her business success, she aims to provide her clients with the true, well rounded ‘girlfriend experience’. For most of her stressed-out customers she functions as therapist more than sex toy and indeed very little is seen of their physical encounters. Wedged in a particular historical moment just prior to the 2008 American elections (stay until the end of the credits for the post-election payoff),the onset of the Global Financial Crisis permeates almost every scene. The savvy and energetic script (co-written by the writers of Oceans 13 working in a very different mode) parallels the nature of transaction and exchange — alternately consequential and meaningless — in both the worlds of fi nance and the high-class sex trade. Soderbergh’s own fluid camerawork (using the digital Red camera) vividly captures the pulse of New York City.
An Education Lone Scherfig (Italian For Beginners, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself SFF03) astutely directs this celebration of intuitive intelligence from Nick Hornby’s sprightly script, itself an adaptation of a short memoir by British celebrity journalist Lynn Barber. Heralded by critics at the Sundance (where the film won the Audience Award) and Berlin film festivals as the new Audrey Hepburn, Carey Mulligan is sparkling as 16-year old Jenny, a schoolgirl whose thirst for knowledge strays from the academic to the experiential when she falls for David (Sarsgaard), a charming scoundrel twice her age. Flaunting her new-found adult style in the schoolyard by day, and eagerly consuming the education David and his dashing (if somewhat dubious) associates dish-up by night, Jenny begins to neglect her goal of an Oxford scholarship, much to the concern of her uptight teacher and stuffy parents. It’s 1961, and post-war conservatism is about to give way to the swinging sixties, and it’s a London bristling with the promise of change; there can be no doubt that with a few lifelessons under her belt, our heroine will be leading the charge.
Reviewed before read: Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape
I’m only three essays into this anthology, but I can already tell it’ll be the kind of book that will have me bubbling over with excitement, “yes!” moments, and enthusiastic shilling to friends.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise - those who pay as much attention to my thoughts as I do will remember that I listed one of the works in it as one of my top four articles of 2008. But it’s good. And the only reason I didn’t pick up a copy sooner was because the Australian dollar prohibited me from making any purchases on Amazon.
One such “‘yes!’ moment” I’ve had so far came in the foreward, by Margaret Cho. Cho writes of her first sexual encounter - non-consensual, with a man in his twenties, at age 14:
Before I knew it, he was on top of me. Then he was inside me. No ceremony, no foreplay, no warning, no consent. It never came up. He was the kind of guy who thought he had some kind of “YES” carte blanche. Entitled by his physical beauty and status in the upper classes of high school society, he thought he didn’t need to ask for consent, especially from a nobody like me. Who was I to turn him down? It hurt and hurt and did not stop hurting, and it still hurts now when I think about the fact that I didn’t say anything because I was too scared.
I didn’t say no, because I thought he was beautiful and popular and grown up, and I was none of these things. I didn’t say no, because I didn’t think I had the right to say no. He rescued us from the sinking ship of gthe party. His girlfriend was a popular cheerleader. He was gorgeous, and I was a fat, gothy nerd. I thought I should have been grateful. He finally came inside me in a globby mess, pushed me off the bed, and was soon asleep. I sat on the floor, my striped tights around my ankles, sick to my stomach, too scared to move. The next day, all the kids at school heard about it. They told me, “The only way you would get sex is if you got raped, because you are so fat and ugly.”