Friday, 11 November 2011

A glimmer of hope

Blue boat waiting on the beach
The last few days have been quite a roller-coaster ride; I've been up and down like a yo-yo. I've been making much more coherent attempts to put together a plan towards employment rather than waiting for my job applications to bear fruit. This was partly prompted by the opportunity from Coeliac UK to run store tours, and then assisted by sister D who made it her business to help me find, or create, work opportunities.

I finally persuaded two well-known supermarkets in a not-very-nearby town to let me escort people with coeliac disease and family members around their stores. I had no idea this would be so difficult, given that absolutely no input is required from the supermarkets except 'permission'. If I was thinking of working with them in some way that required them to actually DO anything, then based on this experience I would think again.

To start with, neither of the supermarket employees I spoke to had work-based email addresses that I could use. So I sent one letter by post, which the employee claimed had not arrived after a week. The other said I could use his personal email but he couldn't access it from work, so an evening had to pass between me sending him messages and him being able to discuss the contents. And he said he didn't receive the first message that I sent.

No work-based email? Two of the Big Four supermarkets in the UK? It seems unbelievable that they can be expected to do their jobs in this way. Anyway, the dates and times for my tours are set, and now I have to recruit participants.

The contact that sister D found for me has also borne fruit, in the form of an offer of three days of 'work experience' in a hospital not too far away. I've asked what this might consist of, but as yet have no idea. I've been given a very long form to complete and post back, which will enable an 'honorary contract' to be created after they've done a full Criminal Records Bureau check. All for three days, which may or may not be related to dietetics. We'll see what comes of this effort.

I've kept in touch via Facebook with a very few students, all of whom have now got jobs and started work. On Monday I was so despondent about this, and about the number of job applications I've made (23) in comparison with interviews awarded (three, and only one since July) that I appealed to my course tutors and referees - who are dietetic managers - for help. My plaintive email was rewarded by wonderfully helpful responses, going to the length of reading and commenting on an example of one of my 'personal statements'. The consensus is that it is much too long, so I followed their advice with the application I submitted yesterday, and brutally shortened it down to just over 2 pages, making sure to include the bits that they suggested were the most interesting.

Immediately following this, but clearly not in any way consequential, messages came through offering me two (count 'em, TWO) interviews for jobs where the closing date for applications was long, long ago, and in one case we had passed the stated date for interviews to have taken place. So either that information was wrong, or they held interviews and failed to appoint on the first round, which seems extremely unlikely, but you never know.

While this is very welcome news, it leaves me with a potential dilemma. The first interview is on Monday, for a job that is only part time (19 hours per week), temporary (until the end of March 2012) but too far away for commuting so I'd have to stay overnight for at least two nights a week, and possibly three. Costs would be almost as high as for a full time job, but for only half the money. The second interview is a much more desirable job, full time, permanent and well within commuting distance, but the trouble is that this interview is not for another three weeks.

If (and it's a big if) they offer me the job after the first interview, what should I do? Ask them to wait until I know about the other job, which will be up to a month for a contract that would only be four months anyway? Or accept the job but still go for the other interview and break the bad news only if I get that job? Or can you think of another option?

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