The last year or so has been one big whirlwind of job hunting, interviews, rejection letters and more job hunting. And I was beginning to feel quite despondent and deflated about the whole situation. I have worked in retail since the age of 16 and I really wanted to leave that world behind in search of something bigger - especially with a university degree under my belt. But I was fast learning that in today's day and age a BA degree does not mean jack. I mean who cares if you travelled all the way to another country for a year to become fluent in a foreign language anyway?
The big storms of disappointment settled a couple of weeks ago, when I got accepted for internship I applied for (which was unpaid, other than the £10 a day for travel expenses the company was kind enough to bless me with!). Anyway, a week into the internship, I received an e-mail from The Guardian saying that they liked the article I had sent to them and wanted to take me on as an intern for two weeks. "Wow", I was thinking. "Two acceptances within a week and a half? Not bad at all!" After a lot of pondering and mentally going around in circles though, I decided to send them an e-mail to decline the offer. Considering, I have always wanted to go into journalism, and had recently taken a strong interest in publishing, it is mad that I would turn down a journalism internship, in favour for the PR one I already had. But If I had taken it, the two would have clashed. So being a woman who always like to follow through with what she has already started, I decided to stick with what I already had and to keep on stepping.
So, week two of my three week internship, and I have an interview with Penguin Books, for another internship which would have lasted two months. (Can I please add that I didn't think there was a chance in hell I was going to get shortlisted for an interview with Penguin seeing as the CV and covering letter I sent to them was a slap-dash, half hearted effort that I submitted hours before the deadline.) I thought the interview went well, but after a year of chasing a full time graduate job, I have learnt to not get my hopes up too high.
Anyway, after the interview with Penguin, I went straight back to the firm I was interning for to finish the day as usual, and was even allowed to leave half an hour early. The next day at work however, I notice the MD looking at me in a strange way the whole day. "Why is she staring at me? Is my top too low? Do I smell funny? Do I have toilet roll stuck to my shoes?" Just as I thought I couldn't take it anymore, she called me into the office. "Oh no. This is it. She thinks I'm terrible, and she is cutting the internship short". So I sheepishly follow her into the meeting room trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do for the rest of the week.
Once in the meeting room, we both take a seat and she begins. "We have enjoyed having you here, and the others really like you. Not only that, we think you have been making a positive contribution to the team, and we would like to offer you a job here on a permanent basis." Huh? Did I miss that? Did she just say she is offering me a job? Seriously, I had been waiting for a year to hear those words, and finally my time had come and all I could do was stare back at her with a stupid expression on my face.
"Err...would a full time job here be of any interest to you?" Oh my goodness, the long hunt for full time (meaningful) employment has come to an end! (For now anyway, until I decide to move on)
"Yes! yes! Thank you so much. I am so grateful. I would love to work here!". Looking back now, I think she was a bit taken aback by my explosion of joy. But seriously, I cannot describe how good I felt at that moment. My internship had not even ended and I had a job already. Yippee!!
Fast forward to this week, yesterday to be precise. I missed a call from a number I was not familiar with. So, I called back and was directed to the answering machine of none other than...Andrew Smith! The guy from Penguin! I left a quick message while I attempted to breathe in and then out again calmly. But an hour or so later, I realised I had missed another call from him. Gaddamit! Although I have managed to secure a job, I just had to know what he had to say. So I called back right away and this time he answered. Yes!
"Hello. Andrew Smith's office"
"Hi Andrew, this is Afrocentric. I am just returning your call. How are you?"
"Hi, Afrocentric. You were just playing hard to get, weren't you?"
"Not at all. I am sorry I missed your calls"
"It's OK, never mind. So, Afrocentric. Will you be free between the 28th June and the 20th August? Cos I'm pleased to say you have been successful with your application."
Let me cut in here. At that moment, you could have knocked me with the proverbial feather duster. I had been selected by Penguin??!! Anybody else would be more than ecstatic to work with one of the biggest publishers ever. Hell, a couple of weeks earlier I would have! Except now, I had a big dilemma. Publishing is were the party's at as far as I am concerned but this was just a two month internship with no promise of a full time permanent position afterwards. And I already have a job with a PR company. GRRR!!! So, what did I do next? I kindly asked Andrew Smith if I could call him back later with an answer (needless to say, he wasn't too pleased) and called the one person I always bother with my problems when I am totally lost. Mama Afrocentric.
I explained the situation to her, while she listened calmly. When I was done, she made me understand that after a year, I had finally bagged a job by the skin of my teeth, and I couldn't afford to be thinking about job satisfaction just yet. Especially since the internship did not guarantee a job afterwards, and the job I have now is damn near close to what I want to do anyway. She also explained that maybe after a year or so of experience at where I'm working now, I can probably apply for a proper job with Penguin.
So I called back Mr. Smith and kindly declined the offer and thanked him for the opportunity. I had a big lump in my throat as I knew I was turning down something major. I know you are probably thinking "Afrocentric, you are full of crap! Why are you getting emotional over a two month internship when you already have a job you enjoy?". But what you don't know is that I applied for this same internship last year and didn't even make it through the first round! So being selected this time round is something major to me.
Oh well. Now some other kid is probably thanking their lucky stars and getting ready for work with Penguin in a couple of weeks time. I honestly can tell you that a year ago I seriously did not believe I would find myself in this predicamnet. I am grateful for the job I have, and I love it so much, but having to turn down Penguin was seriously close to a heart breaking loss. Anyway, as I settle into my new job I can't help but hope I am faced with the same "dilemma" on the other hunt. *Wink wink.*