As i sit down to another session of job search,
having recently seen the end of
another temp contract due to
project closure, i realise blogging
and job search are not mutually exclusive.
Yes, I can do both, perhaps not at the
same moment but certainly in the
Guess i must be 'multi-tasking', that thing that we, as men, are often
told we can't do or certainly can't do well. This immediate period after
working makes me look at my Curriculum Vitae and all the further study
and varied work that i have done in the past. It seems i either end up
travelling during these times or signing up to
adventure. It is these forays into further education that i want to talk
I may have mentioned in previous
pieces, (see grass is greener) (see
is rip-off) my favourite 'bugbear' these days is the term 'life-long
learning'. You see, I have had it up to the eyeballs in further education.
You may read this and be saying “what a grumpy old man” or “this is
just sour grapes” and maybe that is true. At one time my parents
believed and i certainly believed
that education was key to a bright
future. The mantra of “get a degree and the world will be your
oyster.” These days there's a lot of hoo-hah about graduate
employment prospects and average salaries, you can read a few of
them here and make up your own mind. The truth is theres
quite a few
us with degrees in particular fields who are not working in those
fields. I have met a number of graduates, even those with multiple
degrees who are working temp jobs in data entry or retail because
they feel they can not get jobs in their industry for whatever reason.
While at University, we were often told “oh well, you can always
come back and do more study.” From one university that holds itself up
as the 'international university', selling itself to the world, this really is
not a bad little scam is it?
Given the cost of a university education and
that universities are 'packing them in' in some courses, it is what i call
a 'factory', big business these days. We come out the other end, having
paid our money and done our time with a piece of paper in hand and a
lot of expectation. However, if theres not the jobs in the
few then why are these courses still running? Generally, a
university education is a good thing, it teaches you not just what to
think but how to think, how to problem solve and how to prioritise.
There are some that do this better than others just as there are some
graduates who do better than others. I know of examples of
done very well from having a degree but i also know of those
that have no degree at all and succeed. First, let me go back to the
beginning...this is just one man's story.
I came through
The school of hard knocks
Just scraping by
With an attitude that hardly rocks.
Got a leaving certificate
From confinement solitary
And felt the loneliness
Of being sent to coventry.
Completed some courses
In a business-like manner
Whereupon I entered the works
And threw in the proverbial spanner.
How to get that job
Saw me working like a tool
Till I’d had enough of the grind
And got out from mis-managements rule.
Chose a Bachelor in bulldust
From a second rate university
Only to be surrounded once more
By injustice and adversity.
Threw in the towel at the first sign of teaching
But somehow made it back on the treadmill
Gained a Masters in misery now
I’m just a postgrad with a bitter pill.
the time i was 25 I already had several certificates to my name but
no degree. I had gained these certificates from business colleges or
business academies. I had left school with very little idea and not great
results. So I began with a 22 week course in Business Administration
from one of these colleges and then took on a year-long Clerical
Traineeship. For the traineeship i did both on-the-job and off-the-job
training as required. During that traineeship i was awarded a couple of
certificates such as Customer Service Skills and other workplace
specific skills. Given that i was a trainee customer service
time, this learning was particularly relevant wouldn't you say?
In college I was given a 'Student Achievement Award' and yet banned
from spelling bees in Business Communication class as i was
10 out of 10 or 9 out of 10. The students/trainees around me
were barely getting 5 or 6 out of 10. The prize was just a chocolate
frog but still.. doesnt pay to be too good at something? This is not
arrogance on my part, far from it, just a recognition of the little things
that i do do well. Unlike the arrogance of the college
such pearls of wisdom as 'the best form of revenge on an old
boss or bitchy ex-colleagues is to succeed'. Of course, 'success' being
measured by the car you drove or your new job title and your annual
salary. These same principals would, at times, have important guests or
international visitors and they would have to come and go
by the same
that the students used to get to class. Given the lack of elevators
in the building, the principals would demand that the students packing
the elevator leave the lift to make room for the visitors. It happened
at both colleges I attended and I saw it happen several times. These
people were paying students,
why should they be told to move just
because it was inconvenient for the the principal? Heres a poem i
wrote about the courses i attended.
You say you’ll see us at the top,
If not, then you should get the chop.
However, you run the whole
which you constantly crow.
Oh dear Miss Sarina,
Everybody has seen ya.
Especially on the telly,
Causes a pain in my belly.
You’ve got your own institution,
Where you talk about the best retribution.
They say you are a life-saver,
Well, it's attention and you’re a constant craver.
You get into the buildings lift,
And tell the huddled masses to shift.
You've got visitors and want to be right,
So, paying students should stay out of sight.
Well, there was no job at the end
of this traineeship, just an offer of
some 'on-call casual' work in another location which I declined. I
decided to keep looking for the next full-time step and was full of
hope. Subsequently gaining a couple more certificates in things such as
Telephone Skills and various workplace inductions which included
workplace health and safety
along the way. It became clear over time
that I was competing for better positions with people who had
Bachelor degrees already. So, after much moving around and no
permanent placements, I was convinced to do a degree.
I applied for tertiary admission as a 'mature age student' and was
accepted given my certificates and work history.
During all this lead up
to entering the undergraduate course, I had travelled around Australia
see my posts titled 'Joy of travelling..albeit domestically (pt1)' and
'(pt2)'. I still had some money saved and paid my fees up-front gaining
the discount for doing so. However, it was still a hit to the wallet and
buying all the set textbooks every semester didn't help this situation.
The convenors of these courses tend to set new editions
texts, saying that previous editions are not applicable. Guess
what, this makes you purchase the new edition but then you can't
onsell it as the next semester they change the edition.. funny that?!!
The longer you wait to offload these texts the less you can even give
them away to secondhand book sellers. Otherwise they just
a book shelf at home. Strangely, most of the editions are edited or
written by the convenors or associates of the convenors within the
university. Who pockets the money for this?
I got my first preference, which was a 3 year full-time bachelor degree
in a social science, choosing that because i had a long-standing interest
in the field. It must be said, I did not necessarily choose it as a career
thought that if i did a degree in an area of interest then i
might have a chance at keeping the motivation during assignment and
study times. Generally my theory worked, i did keep my motivation till
near the end of the course, though i soon realised i was not a high
distinction student. I remember a fellow student who use
to say “51
percent is 1 percent too much effort”, strangely he disappeared after
the first year?
folks attended my graduation along with a couple of family friends
and they were proud of my achievement. I would say, I wouldnt have
done it without them. After graduation, I found myself a job with an
employer I felt sure would look at the degree favourably and that my
future was assured. I again entered
the public sector as an
admin/civvie, (see my post on 'Gun culture' ). In this and subsequent
workplaces, as soon as I would say i have a degree, colleagues and
even supervisors would say “What are you doing
here then?” or
something similar.. as if having a degree was a guarantee to get better
paid roles and faster promotions. So, what was i doing in the mail
rooms and working as a filing clerk or data entry jobs? In this
environment, i soon learned it wasn't what you know but who you
know. Unfortunately, i didnt really know anybody
(see my post on
'philosophy' re circle friends versus ladder friends).
Skip forward several years, after leaving that job due mainly to
dissatisfaction, partly due to my own expectations and more
specifically to not meeting mine and others expectations. I did think
about further study but quickly discounted it a number of
study is like an addiction, the more you have the more you
think you should get. Eventually after several more changes of jobs and
personal development periods such as travel etc.. I came to the
conclusion that I was competing with people who had honours degrees
or even a Masters degree. Of course, i had gained several
during that time, mostly to do with workplace specific
skills and computer packages. But this wasn't enough and with the
mantra of life-long learning in my head, i applied for a Masters degree
in Commerce with a focus on Accounting. How i came to this course is
a long story but the short of it is: I was convinced that
since i did well
in basic bookkeeping in college and other business studies that I should
be good at Accounting. I also thought i could combine it somehow with
my justice administration degreee and move into some interesting
Its a numbers game,
That wont bring you fame.
You might always have cash to your name,
But all your clothes will look the same.
You have studied the form,
It seems like the norm.
You are just one of a swarm,
But have never lived in a dorm.
The time spent learning,
And dreams of future earning.
Into what are you turning,
With no passion burning.
Of course, I was accepted back into university with a degree behind
me and I took on the challenge of mastering accounting. Not an easy
thing for me to do but two years later I graduated with the Masters,
which is where I met my partner. I really struggled with this course and
the same motivational measures
were not present during this time, it
just wasnt a field of real interest to me. I did it simply in the belief
that it would expand my horizons and give me much wider choice in a
career than the social sciences. I graduated with hope that I had
chosen correctly and was keen to start a new career path.
attending to my studies in Accounting, i learnt that after you
finish your degree, you have to undertake further studies and
mentoring period before you can qualify as an Accountant. At the time I
didnt really think about it, but it has been an issue since. Just simply
joining the professional associations such as CA or CPA is pricy enough
but the cost of further study combined with the lower pay of graduates
and intermediates is enough to put some off that idea. You
it simply 'sorts the wheat from the chaff' but equally you could say
that 'accountants know how to eat their own!' If the associations think
that the education you get at Uni is not enough then why dont they
work with the universities to develop more practical subjects/courses
within the degree? For one
thing, we never really learnt practical skills
in the various computer packages that most businesses and accounting
firms use. Why is there not more MYOB, SAP etcetera in university
accounting courses?? Instead, we concentrated on Excel!! Does
Microsoft have a monopoly on universities?
I can honestly say that I have only had 1 job over all these years where
I was directly employed because of the degree that i gained. Given my
struggles with the material
during my studies it is not surprising that i
struggled in this position and after a trial period it was not continued.
So, what am i to do now? Getting older with an ever-increasing filing
cabinet full of certificates and very little recognition of these by
prospective employers? (see A workin stiff) Now that i've hit 40, i've
realised that there's 20 or more years left of my working life given the
increasing retirement age.
Of course, my thought process now begins with 'should i study again?'.
If so, what should i study? Since the Masters i have gained several more
certificates in workplace
specific skills and had several more changes
of employment. I've said it before but if i won the lottery, apart from
travelling wider and volunteering I would probably study Philosophy.
Since that hasnt happened and i have begun to think that the lottery is
rigged then i guess i'm back to square one. Prior to and
since, i have
thought “I should have just done a trade”. Even my parents said
this subsequently and they were such fans of further education. I see
the positives to this such as getting paid while you study and the
practical manual skills that
you can still use even if you go on another
Feels like the case of Sisyphus, the ancient man pushing a ball up a hill
only to get near the top and have it topple down the bottom again. A
more recent uphill battle has made me think 'Honesty is not
policy'... stay tuned, i will explain why in my next post. In the
meantime, if you have any comments or if you have some suggestions
for me then please dont hesitate to put it in the box at the end of this