I realise that over the past few weeks I have been waiting until I have a ‘proper job’ or ‘something exciting’ sorted out before writing a post, but that actually goes against the ethos behind this blog. As we’re all aware, getting into research and conservation is incredibly challenging, and we all still need to earn money and have lives in the interim. So this is what mine looks like at the moment.
Having returned from an amazing three months in Costa Rica I’m just not in a position to go into another full-time unpaid role. I’m also starting to realise that getting a Master’s degree is going to massively improve my employability/is probably the only way I’ll ever do a PhD if I decide I want to take an academic route, which is a definite possibility. With the UK postgraduate loan barely covering tuition fees, that means I have to be saving up until next September to afford living costs when I go back to university.
At the moment that translates to working two part-time jobs. I’ve had one of these since April, a flexible home-based role editing business documents. I’ve been so lucky to have this job as it allowed me to continue earning a little money while I was in Costa Rica, it pays well (or better than anything else I’ve ever done) and I can fit it completely around the rest of my life. It also meant I could go straight into earning on returning to the UK when I needed to most. Unfortunately there is no guarantee of work being available and it doesn’t provide full-time hours, so I have also taken on a cleaning job in a shop, which I do in the mornings, from 6-10am or 7-11am. To my surprise, I still find this preferable to working in an office.
Obviously the ideal would be to get a relevant paid job, and I have been applying to all and any that I find. Some have been long shots, while others I have felt I’m perfectly qualified for, but I know that many other extraordinarily qualified people are applying to all of them. My list tells me I am still waiting to hear from four of the 12 jobs I have applied to in the past few months, but I’m not especially hopeful about any of them. I also can’t remember which ones said to assume you had been unsuccessful if you didn’t hear back, so maybe there are a couple more I should cross off.
I hope this doesn’t read as self-pitying, or too self-pitying anyway. I have always known the position that I am putting myself in by pursuing this career path and by taking a year ‘out’ to volunteer. I also know I’m incredibly privileged to have been able to do any of the things I have done, and I wouldn’t take them back for the world.
It’s impossible for anyone to remain positive 100% of the time, but if not positive I am at least remaining motivated. I am improving my CV as much as I can within my current time and money constraints, such as by taking the online course GIS for Biologists and having booked onto an ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor Course.
I have also reached out to (and had a positive reply from!) a potential supervisor who I would be beyond thrilled to work with. I really hope I can shape a project that excites me and hit the ground running when I (fingers crossed) start a Masters next year.
I apologise if this isn’t a very interesting post, but that’s because my life at the moment mostly revolves around fitting job applications, exercise and laundry into the gaps between four to nine hours per day of honest work. It’s not feeding seals or tagging turtles, but it’s what I need to be doing right now, and I think I should be honest about that.